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Why Do Millennials Still Get a Bad Rap at Work? SNL Adds Fuel to the Fire

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Erin Cushing
on October 08, 2015
Let me introduce myself: I am a millennial. I love my job and am actively invested in building my career. And I don't like being the butt of jokes about being lazy and entitled at work.

The latest example? Last weekend, Saturday Night Live celebrity guest host Miley Cyrus participated in a sketch for a workplace drama entitled "The Millennials," showing a group of 20-somethings in an office space and the two beleaguered older managers who must put up with them. The jokes aren't anything new; the millennial employees can't bother to look up from their phones to address their boss, speak in slurred monotones, and generally act like the world's worst human beings. Just take a peek:

"Erin, this is clearly satire. Aren't overreacting a little bit?" you might ask me. It stops being a parody and starts being a problem when these stereotypes become entrenched in business think pieces and actual managers have a hard time correlating the workforce of young professionals they actually interact with to the caricatures that have been painted of their employees.

But now, I can do something about it. Data from PeopleFluent's original research report, "The Digital Generation in the Workplace" is here, and it will help me take down this SNL sketch piece by piece. Here we go!

Problem 1: "I don't want a promotion, I deserve it."

A brand new millennial employee who has been with the company for 3 days walks up to her seasoned boss and demands a promotion. While this is surely a play on the view of young professionals as "entitled," it also suggests that millennials aren't willing to work for advancement, or that they shouldn't desire to advance at work at all; they shouldn't be ambitious - they hardly know anything!

In fact, young professionals are willing to work hard in order to  progress their career, and they openly seek out jobs that offer career advancement opportunities; according to our survey, it's the 3rd most important reason a millennial decides to take a job at 39.6%. The Digital Generation is ambitious and entrepreneurial, and wants to progress in their careers - but not after 3 days on the job.

Problem 2: "Oh great, we're talking about gender again."

Remember that advice your mom gave you about never talking about politics, religion, or sensitive topics at work or on a date? The Digital Generation wants to smash that taboo - and already started to. Millennials are the most diverse generational demographic in American history - and they want to see that diversity reflected in their workplace. 1 in 6 millennials in PeopleFluent's survey didn't feel that their workplace was inclusive enough, and that group was 1.7 times more likely to be looking for a new job opportunity based on that exclusion. While the sketch uses an extreme example in Miley Cyrus's "gender-lazy" identity, the Digital Generation recognizes that a more diverse workforce is a better one - and the market does, too.

Problem 3: "Stop yelling at me!"

Miley Cyrus's character asks for an indefinite amount of time away from work in order to "gain perspective." While this assumption that young professionals actually don't want to work is silly and problematic, I'm more interested in her manager's response. He calmly tells her that she needs to be on site to perform her job, to which she replies, "Stop yelling at me! This is an assault!"  Over-reaction aside, the assumption is that members of the Digital Generation never want to hear anything from their bosses, except for praise. However, this simply isn't true.

Millennials LOVE feedback of all types, both positive and constructive. In fact, according to the PeopleFluent report, almost 60% of the survey takers thought reviews and other performance management feedback is effective at boosting their own performance. Young professionals also want to hear from their managers more often - 50% want monthly feedback at the least. Knowing where they stand and what they can be doing better is a critical priority for this group at work - not sabbaticals to France.

Problem 4: "I've been planning a break from social media - I just can't even!"

Alright, SNL, you got me there. I do love a good Instagram.   

Check in to see if your talent management strategy needs to evolve to fit the Digital Generation by reading our report here.

How are millennials interacting within the American workforce? What insights do you need in order to build the best talent management strategy for 2016? Find out on October 29th with our webinar featuring millennial expert Dan Schwabel, "The Digital Generation in the Workplace: Management Strategies for the Digital Generation." Register now!

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