Millennials: They’re not Lazy, Entitled Punks

by Mack Collier


By the year 2025, 3 out of 4 workers the world over will be Millennials. These oft-maligned young professionals will soon comprise the majority of our global workforce, so businesses should expend the effort to manage them in a way that maximizes their positive attributes and lets them excel.

Learning to manage Millennials will also boost the bottom line: it costs companies between $15,000 and $25,000 to replace each Millennial employee who leaves.

In the course of teaching a graduate and undergraduate classes in new media marketing, I’ve had the opportunity to observe how Millennials engage in an educational environment. Many students keep in touch after graduation, as well, and their professional experiences provide me with insight into how this generation works: their fabled strengths as well as their frailties.

Here are a few observations for companies who want to tap into Millennials’ brilliance and passion, while managing the traits that can sometimes make these workers less effective in a corporate environment.

1 – Provide recognition early and often.  80% of Millennials prefer immediate recognition over traditional performance reviews. And by “immediate,” they mean instantaneous, like your anticipated reply to their text message.

My students submit work at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday night, and by Monday morning, I routinely have several emails inquiring about grades.

Recognition also fosters competition, and Millennials love competition. Term after term, I see better quality work overall from groups that include a few standout stars: they raise the bar for everyone else, so long as I encourage them to continue putting forth the extra effort.

2 – Let them use social media on the job.  71% will anyway, and 56% of Millennials won’t accept a job at a company that bans social media. This carries over into education, as well. 19% of Millennials have said that they’ll be using social media to engage in the classroom.

My classroom is currently virtual, but having taught in a traditional classroom environment, I can attest to the fact that displaying a Twitter feed in class enables some students to participate in the discussion who would feel intimidated to raise their hand “IRL.” So long as access to social media isn’t undermining job performance, don’ t block Facebook and Twitter. (More to come on embracing a results-oriented business model!)

If you want to keep tabs on your Millennial workers, get on Facebook, which has the greatest penetration among that demographic. Nearly 2/3 of Millennials use Facebook.

3 – Facilitate giving back financially or through volunteerism.  Millennials are philanthropic. 81% have given money, goods, or services, and they place a higher priority on helping people in need (21%) than having a high-paying job (15%). Help them to help others: offer matching donations for their charities, or organize a volunteer project for your office.

4 – Get flexible, and fast.  In order to keep your Millennial talent, you’ll need to offer flexible schedules and location-independent work. 45% of Millennials will choose workplace flexibility over pay. Change your mindset from a 9 to 5 model to a productivity model. So long as your employees achieve the results you want by the time you need them, it shouldn’t matter how or when they do it.

Some of my students evenly divide their work into manageable segments, completing one per day leading up to the project due date. Other procrastinate and work all weekend. So long as the product demonstrates an understanding of our subject’s finer points, the approach they choose doesn’t matter to me.

5 – Give them a smartphone for work.  According to a recent survey, 74% of Millennial workers used a smartphone for work in the last 12 months. For coursework, students use their phones to email me, conduct research, and post to discussion boards.

If you’re planning to issue Millennial employees a desktop computer and a landline phone, you can expect them to jury rig a workaround that involves Skype or Google Voice. Make life easier for everyone involved: issue smartphones to new hires.


Whatever your opinion of Millennial workers might be, they’re a valuable asset to your company. Keep them engaged. Keep them, period! Recruiting a non-Millennial replacement is expensive, and will become increasingly difficult as older workers retire.

Note from Mack: This is a Guest Post from Kerry Gorgone, who is an instructor at Full Sail University, a lawyer, and also does an ahhhmazing podcast for MarketingProfs.  Check out her previous guest posts here on protecting yourself and your works online and on social media etiquette for brands.

Pic via Flickr.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kerry O'Shea Gorgone December 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Thanks, Mack! It’s always an honor to have a guest post on your blog.


Mack Collier December 2, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Always a thrill having you here, darlin’!


Joe Cardillo December 2, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Hey what if we like being lazy, entitled punks?

But I digress. No. 4, especially, is a good point. What a lot of it boils down to is that Millenials don’t separate work and personal life as much, which while it sometimes scares other generations typically isn’t a bad thing if you can keep us focused. To some extent it’s probably freeing for employers, who can point to the results as the benchmark for good, bad, and in-between instead of measuring by time spent.


Kerry O'Shea Gorgone December 2, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Thanks, Joe! Great point about work/life separation (or lack thereof). Employers should trust the people they hire to get the job done. If they start missing deadlines, that’s one thing, but if they produce, why sweat the details?


An December 3, 2013 at 5:57 pm

It comes down to aligning expectations. As an older millennial, I find that most of these apply to me but that some of these expectations are a bit self-centered. For example, the example you give about submitting homework at 11:59 pm and then following up with a request for grades Monday morning isn’t appropriate. A professor (and later colleague or manager) should have some time to react / respond. How would someone who has this expectation (submit + immediate feedback) feel if s/he was handed a project and the manager wanted an update and report 6 hours later?


Kerry O'Shea Gorgone December 5, 2013 at 10:10 am

Great point, An! I always chock it up to enthusiasm, though, and try to take it in the spirit of someone who’s worked hard on their project and is excited to get feedback. I do adjust expectations in that regard when I reply to their inquiry, however. ;) So long as feedback is timely and the schedule for receiving it is communicated at the outset, the result can be friendly and productive. It’s also good for supervisors (and professors) to remember that people do wait with anticipation to receive feedback, so pinging us now and then isn’t a bad thing.


J Wolfgang Goerlich December 6, 2013 at 9:46 am

Enjoyable piece. Thank you.

This one resonated with me: “Let them use social media on the job.” There are several problems that come up during the course of any workday. The traditional do-it-yourself know-it-all approach only stretches so far. I appreciate the Millennials approach: “let’s reach out and ask someone who’s done it.”

Thanks to social media, we are not simply employing the Millenial. We are employing their entire network, which many put to deft use solving problems and getting work done.


Kerry O'Shea Gorgone December 13, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Great point! Sometimes, you really do need to ask someone else who’s got more experience than you. Flailing around trying to “figure it out” can waste loads of time. Thanks for your comment.


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