The latest sign of the workplace apocalypse

CareerHMO.com CEO J.T. O’Donnell on why your newest employees are from the worst workforce generation:

Recently, I wrote this article explaining why Millennials aren’t getting promoted. In response to Millennial readers’ requests for a deeper understanding of how being misperceived can negatively affect their careers, I’m taking it a step further and outlining exactly what’s getting them fired.

Employers are seriously fed up

To get a sense of how heated this has become, read this article by one irate employer and his prediction of the backlash that will soon ensue from the Millennials’ attitudes toward work.

Additionally, this survey by SmartRecruiter of 28,000 bosses detailing where Millennials are falling short is just one example of the data to support the huge disconnect costing some Millennials their jobs. Here are the key takeaways Millennials need to know.

1. Employers don’t want to be parents

Growing up, Millennials were coached their entire lives and they unknowingly assume employers will coach them too. However, the relationship isn’t the same. An employer pays us to do a job. We are service providers. Expecting extensive training and professional development to do the job doesn’t make financial sense. In many employers’ minds (especially, small to midsized businesses with limited budgets and resources), Millennials should foot the bill to develop themselves and make themselves worth more to the employer.

Tip: Millennials should do their best to proactively seek resources on their own to help them close gaps in skills and knowledge in the workplace. There are plenty of online tools and resources to help them put their best professional self forward. Additionally, they should seek out a mentor to privately ask questions and get guidance on how to make the right impression.

2. The anti-work attitude isn’t appreciated (or tolerated)

As explained here, Millennials tend to work only the minimum time expected–and will push for flexibility and a reduced work schedule to create more time for other pursuits. Being demanding about when and how they want to do their job can be viewed as disrespectful. A great way to look at how some employers feel is the way the dysfunctional phone/cable companies work. It’s annoying when they announce they can come out only on a certain day. They can’t tell you what time, and then they say they’ll call the day of and give you a four-hour window when they’ll arrive. While the phone/cable companies have us trapped, employers don’t feel the same about Millennials. They’ll fire the Millennial worker and find someone who can work when they need them to–and without the attitude.

Tip: In the early days and weeks of a new job, Millennials can make up for what they lack in skills by being consistently on time. When an employer sees their commitment to their work, they will earn her trust and respect, resulting in her being comfortable with their taking time off, and even providing them with a more flexible work schedule. When Millennials prove they can deliver on their company’s terms, their company will give them more of what they want.

3. Millennials’ happiness isn’t the employer’s responsibility

Millennials are pretty vocal about wanting work to be a “fun” place to go. Besides career development, they also desire lots of cool perks and benefits to make their job feel more rewarding. Besides nice work spaces, amenities like gym memberships, healthy meals on-site, in-house parties, etc., are being used in an effort to attract and maintain Millennial workers. Unfortunately, this is backfiring on employers–and that makes them angry. In spite of all the perks to keep them happy, Millennials are getting to these jobs and quickly showing visible signs of disappointment and dissatisfaction within months of joining the company.

Why are Millennials so tough to keep happy?

Part of the problem is how much external motivators were used on Millennials growing up. In the book Punished by Rewards, Alfie Kohn argues that Millennials have an addiction to praise, perks, and other incentives to learn–better known as bribes. Thus, when they get to the job and the newness wear off, they think it’s the company’s job to fix it with more incentives. But, this is where the cycle of bribing has to stop. A company can offer only so much in the form of compensation and benefits. The reality is thatMillennials (like all workers) must learn to find intrinsicmotivation (internal drive for work), so they can find real satisfaction and success in their careers. SinceMillennials haven’t learned this yet, they’re experiencing sadness and confusion in the workplace. Unfortunately, their unhappiness is transparent to employers who have no desire to pay for what they perceive as a bad attitude at work.

Tip: Millennials who feel confused and unhappy in their job should not blame the employer (yet). First, they should seek some career coaching. Many Millennials just need help understanding some of the basic elements for finding an internal motivation for work. They need to know their professional strengths and workplace personas, and the defining skills they’d like to grow so they can build up their specialties and find direction and motivation at the job.

The comments probably demonstrate that bad attitudes are not just part of the millennial generation — claims that all employers screw their employees, that it’s abusive to have to work after 5 p.m. or before 8 a.m. or, horrors, on weekends, etc., etc., etc. One article actually claims that “This article – and every other like it – is boarding age discrimination.” Another started with “Like it or not, the future of the workforce belongs to Millennials,” and then proceeded to validate every stereotype of millennials as thinking they’re smarter and more special than you are.

Those are countered by …

  • #4. Your bills aren’t your employers’ problem! If you need more money cause your paycheck wasn’t enough to pay your bills or your 2015 you’re sporting, find another job or get a second job or move back home! It is that simple.
    #5. You got a child or have children, you need a job? That’s why an employer should hire you?
    #6. There are many work ethics and job skills one learns just by doing chores at home during upbringing and being active in school and community! Employer/s shouldn’t have to spend time and money where your parents and schooling didn’t just to hire or keep you on payroll! However employers, businesses and companies do suffer from the lack of can’t hire affordable, educated, respectable, honest (got integrity), ‘healthy’, common sense and reliable workers these days! The very main reasons why many employers have required that their committed and/or vested employees to answer their phones and emails 24/7 and texts within minutes, notify their boss in advance (some at least a month) when and why they won’t be available, and requesting veteran employees who are up for retirement to stay a bit longer with upped bonuses and benefits!
    #7. My pet peeve, new hire who hasn’t passed a 90 day probationary/training period (a week on the job already has called-in), how in the hell he/she believes in an ‘entitlement’ to make just as much even more than someone who has been on the job 5-10 years? 10-20 years? Job Equality verses Job Experience? Or, College Graduate (Associate Degree/BS/BA) with NO experience verses years of Job Experience?
    #8. There is no misunderstanding, Millennials don’t possess self discipline, lack respect for their employers and job responsibilities once hired, (a)pathetic to the point of unable to do time management, solve daily life problems, and handle challenges and others as if they have ‘learned helplessness’, UNGRATEFUL and selfish (doesn’t know his/her behavior is wrong even baseless), and absolutely don’t possess overall common courtesy and good WORK ETHICS to get and stay employed!
  • The work has to get done. If employees don’t get the job done, it falls back on their manager. So they will hire those who will get the job done with the least complications.
  • “Millennials don’t possess self discipline”…if you’re hiring people who are apathetic, learned helplessness and a lack of discipline, I would think that says more about your hiring practices and management/HR tactics than anything.
  • I wrote an article entitled “14 Simple Rules to Getting That Promotion.” In it, I suggested what I considered to be completely reasonable rules, such as show up on time, take 15-minute breaks—not 30 or 17, stay off Facebook, and put your cell phone away. I was stunned by the backlash. I was told to “chill out,” that “I’d hate to work for you.” I was accused of “inflicting arbitrary rules that no professional would be expected to be follow,” and of being “uptight and anal-retentive, enforcing 19th century factory rules.” And my person favorite: “How many texts I send a day is no reflection on my effectiveness at my job.” I have no way of knowing if these comments were from Millennials. But based on the demographic of the website I write for, I’m guessing they were. I hate to say “I told you so,” but “I told you so.”
  • This article is #1, #2, and # 3 spot on! Millennials don’t want to work but want entitlements to a paycheck! The reason why Millennials have the highest cost of living than any other generation in history is, Millennials are a bunch of 911 zombies who can’t live, attend grade school/college, work, and drive a rimmed vehicle without a cell phone! Successful Generation-X parents dropped the baby! Millennials are brainless, spoiled sick, miseducated, “greedy”, genderless rotten brats who are ‘entitled’ materialistic do nothings!
  • … I’m one of those baby boomers.  It’s a wide range of years in that group–1946 – 1964– and thus, as you can imagine, also has a wide range of people with different experiences, likes, and dislikes. I graduated from college in 1979 when the interest rates for borrowing was around 20%. Jobs were very hard to find and none of us ever dreamed of starting our careers with big jobs that enabled us to buy homes until our early 30’s. There were no kids that were inventing apps companies that sold for billions and most of us worked while we went to school, with another large group getting their education through the GI Bill. There were several recessions that troubled America while I was growing up (though none as bad as the one that smacked us in 2008) and lots of us in my time had to worry about being drafted into war. Those who came out of college at the same time I did were not receiving big salaries, and, in fact, I cannot think of any baby boomer that did. We did, however, move out of our homes by age 18 and our parents were completely different (because most of them came from the Big Depression) than what I see now. The “love and flowers” time frame you reference was really on a couple years.  You can read up on that time frame and watch numerous documentaries that will show you a different story than the one you have imagined. Pretty much none of what you said is accurate and your defensiveness is something I see quite often with Millennials–I guess, like the article said, because Mommy and Daddy always told you how special and right you are.  We definitely thought we were right about a lot of things too, but it seems to me priorities have shifted a lot and this article points out that folks who pay wages are tired of the nonsense.
  • Add to this the open hostility expressed by Mils toward all things business and you have toxic employees. I don’t want to hire people like that or work with them. No one likes negative self absorbed co-workers. Fortunately not all mils are that way, so you have to deal with them individually like you do every other group. Some are self motivated and have strong work ethics. The process of weeding out bad mils is no different than weeding out bad apples from any other generation. Just know what to look for in bad attitudes and warning signs and avoid them. I have ran into plenty of baby boomers and Gen X that act every bit the stereotypical mil, smartphone addiction included.

I entered the workforce 34 years ago during the early-1980s recession, and the full-time workforce 27 years ago. No one had to tell me that it was important to show up on time. Whatever was “fun” about the places I have worked had little to do with work perks (largely because I’ve had almost none, other than flexibility, anywhere I’ve worked); it had to do with having challenging work, along with the people with whom I’ve worked. (In the same way that you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family, you can choose where you work if they’ll have you, but you can’t choose your coworkers.)

What O’Donnell describes appears to me to be a gross failure of parenting and possibly education as well. The extent to which schools should train students for the workplace is debatable, but schools certainly should be emphasizing those habits of successfully employed people — showing up on time when scheduled to work, working hard, focusing on work instead of other things while you’re at work — regardless of a student’s future plans. Maybe my parents did what today’s parents of millennials didn’t do by setting examples of how people are supposed to act in public. (Yes, the parents of millennials apparently are people my age, but I certainly do not want our kids to grow up lazy and self-entitled.)

There are risks of generalizing (about which I can speak from experience as part of the “liberal media”), but stereotypes always have a source. O’Donnell must at least be hearing complaints from other CEOs and those who work for her to generate these ideas. If I had to guess, I would guess that those complaints come from employers who employ a lot of entry-level people. (Which suggests, for one thing, that millennials maybe should become more creative at where they decide to work, instead of just going to a big company they’ve heard of.)

These are the sorts of things Mike Rowe has been pointing out on his Facebook page. It is not because you should be wedded to your employer forever. You should, however, be committed to work, to being productive, to contributing more than you take out of the planet. I have found in employing people that you can teach almost everything about a job except for work ethic. Either you have it, and you will remain employed (somewhere) regardless of how your employer does, or you will not.

 

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