Lazy narcissists or energized optimists?

  • Post published:12/03/2015
  • Reading time:4 mins read

But my generation is not different!

There are three uncomfortable truths about Generation Y, or the Millennials or Me Me Me Generation, as they are also called – that is if we are to believe a newly released report from IBM called: “Myths, exaggerations and uncomfortable truths – The real story behind millennials in the workplace”.

4704_pen_pencil_cup_colorThe author is Carolyn Heller Baird, a global research leader in the IBM Institute for Business Value, and she writes that various reports have for years been predicting how Millennials (aged 21–34) would revolutionise the workplace. The reports all conclude that Millennials are somehow different from their predecessors.

Time magazine published an article in 2013 by Joel Stein, in which he admitted that he, just like what old people have done for centuries, calls those younger than him: lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow.

The IBM study reports that the first wave of Millennials is now rising up the ranks at work and shaping businesses or making key business decisions. The report continues to say that over the past few years, the fundamental distinction between Millennials and older employees is their digital proficiency. Quote: “Millennials are the first generation to grow up immersed in a digital world. Using mobile and social technologies, immediately accessing data, ideas and inspiration and instantly communicating and collaborating is second nature for these digital natives”.

To assess the impact of the Millennials and how organisations can create work environments where we can all thrive, IBM surveyed people in 12 countries working in different industries and came to some pretty surprising conclusions about how we all act.1050_globe_asia

The survey divided workers into:

  • Millennials aged 21-34
  • Generation X aged 35-49
  • Baby Boomers aged 50+

Ed Nusbaum, CEO of Grant Thornton International, recently wrote in his blog that he found the report fascinating and that he suspected at least half of the 40,000 people working in Grant Thornton’s member firms, are Millennials. He continued to stress that the Millennials, like everyone else, want to be treated as individuals.

Here are the three uncomfortable truths cited by Heller Baird:

  1. Employees at most companies don’t understand their organisation’s business strategy. That’s 54% of the Millennials, but even more disappointing is that it’s 58% of baby boomers!
  2. All three generations think the customer or client experience provided by their business is poor. 70% of baby boomers don’t think their organisation is effectively addressing the customer experience. For Millennials, 60% share the same concern!
  3. Workers of all ages have embraced the technological revolution, but they believe their employers have been slow to implement new applications. The majority believe their companies should do more to be technologically innovative.674_laptop_charcoal

The IBM report ends with five conclusions:

  1. Focus on the individual
  2. Foster a collaborative culture
  3. Make the customer experience a priority
  4. Look within
  5. Get everyone on board.

The questions you must ask yourself are how do I take advantage of the great digital competencies of my organisation’s Millennials and how do I get past the myths and overcome the uncomfortable truths described above? You can download the IBM report here.

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.