Entitled! Lazy! Narcissists!

At an estimated 76 million strong and comprising of approximately 33 percent of the U.S. workforce, millennial workers are experiencing some less-than-desirable labels and stereotypes from their more senior counterparts. However, much of this hype may not necessarily be accurate and many of the issues cited may simply be “stage-of-life” issues versus characteristics indicative of this generation.  

Also referred to as generation Y or the net generation, the earliest cited year of birth for millennials is 1976 and the oldest is cited as 2004. It is certainly not uncommon for older generations to display less tolerance towards the younger generations during this “learning stage of life.”

Instead of wasting our time complaining about the supposed weaknesses of these young hospitality and tourism workers, it would behoove us as an industry to embrace them during the early stages of their careers and mold them into hospitality super stars. 

Too Critical

Common criticisms of the millennial worker include being overly dependent on technology and never being able to disconnect. However, this quality is not necessarily a challenge for operators, but perhaps a strength: Advanced technology and 24-hour connectivity are a part of today’s world, and we need workers with these skills and personality traits to cater to similarly connected consumers. This would also apply to the criticism that millennial workers are quick to change and lose focus, but this means that they are able to adapt to change more quickly and readily. This may also speak to their ability to multi-task; a quality that may benefit companies and offer greater performance and efficiency.   

But they are lazy! The millennial worker has a tendency to bleed the lines between work and play. This usually looks like a worker who spends company time updating social media statuses or watching YouTube videos. The upside: These are the workers responding to company emails 24/7, resulting in an endless workweek. This is also a generation entering a less-than desirable economy, necessitating the need to work two, sometimes three jobs. That doesn’t sound very lazy now, does it?

But they are so entitled and have such unrealistic expectations! Of course they feel a bit entitled. This is a generation of people who grew up being told to follow their dreams and that they can do anything they want because they are special. Although this carries some negative impacts, this has also created a confident, optimistic and enthusiastic generation of workers with qualities that have been historically and continually linked to workplace success. 

Other strengths include being goal- and achievement-oriented, civic-minded, resourceful, entrepreneurial and collaborative. Their most notable strengths may be tolerance and support of diversity. Operators that shift their focus from criticism and toward capitalizing on the strengths of these workers will reap the benefits of all the potential that this generation holds. Viva la millennial! 

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