Those Damn Millennials: Why Won’t They Just Do Their Jobs?


There’s a lot of grumbling going on around the world about those “damn” millennials. Employers wonder why they won’t just do their jobs and stop complaining about Every. Little. Thing! But, typically, there’s a generational and communication gap between millennial workers and their supervisors. Beyond these gaps, what are employers to do with these lazy subordinates of theirs?

My business is based on creating more efficient workflows and systems that produce results with reduced chance of error. (Also, for full disclosure: I’m a millennial, myself. But, just barely!) So, I can identify with many traits that have been used to describe this generational group: I like change, I want flexibility and I need respect. 

What is a millennial?

According to Wikipedia, who always has the answers (lol!), demographers and researchers generally categorize individuals into the millennial generation by birthdates starting in the early 1980s. Ending birth years range from the mid 1990s to the early 2000s, usually catching the children of baby boomers and old(er) Gen Xers. Currently, millennials are the largest living generation. 

According to the Center for Generational Kinetics, millennials don’t like their stereotype, knowing that society considers them lazy, entitled and always needing their parents to pay their bills. Those societal generational biases make it extremely difficult to bridge the divide, causing even greater challenges between groups as they attempt to work together.

Millennials are hard to work with

Many corporations find that millennial employees are a challenge to their well-oiled systems. Punching a time clock, performing mundane tasks and doing things “the way they’ve always been done” don’t work for millennials. They don’t fit into this sort of corporate climate! 

Here are some messages you need to keep in mind for millennials when you hire them as part of your corporate team:

  1. Stop trying to change everything! They are always trying to change things that are simply not broken. The old processes have been working forever, and they think they can come in and develop new ways of doing old tasks. It’s pretty frustrating. But, consider how it feels from their perspective. They’ve come into your organization and may have seen other ways of doing things. Or, may know shortcuts to save time on those mundane tasks. Telling one of your employees that they need to just hush up and never attempt to solve problems will not develop workers who EVER take initiative or work on creative strategies to remove obstacles and meet challenges. The attitude you are begrudging may be just the mentality you need to create leaders in your corporate culture.

  2. Why are they so lazy? Seriously, those millennials are always trying to get out of hard work. They don’t want to perform all of the steps that it takes to do a task. They try to cut corners. But, what if a job could be done quicker and more easily? Much of the time, millennials’ work ethic is viewed as lazy only because they are focused on trying to make things easier. The philosophy of “work smarter, not harder” applies to them in every way. And, to be honest, everyone can learn a lesson from that theory. It makes sense to utilize your time wisely and develop systems that make tasks easier. Who wouldn’t do that? It’s not just millennials -- it’s good business sense.

  3. Why aren’t they loyal to a company? They never stay in a job for very long at a time and hop from company to company. But, there is a perfectly good reason many millennials “job hop.” Layoffs are a VERY common thing nowadays, so even if a millennial wanted to work at a company for 40 years, like their parents or grandparents, there’s a solid chance it will never be possible. Additionally, millennials are always looking for a corporate environment that welcomes and accepts them. With attitudes about “lazy” millennials and inflexible perspectives, many millennials choose to move on to other prospects, in hopes of finding a corporate culture that appreciates them.

  4. Why do they always need technology? Back in the “good ol’ days,” 10-key adding machines were the most advanced thing in an office and people were able to complete their jobs. Technology is for the lazy. However, millennials have grown up with technology. From videogames to cell phones, they know how entertaining and useful technology can be. To them, they can’t imagine doing jobs without the use of it. Because they are adaptable and can easily learn new technology (it’s only second nature), they understand it can make their lives easier and reduce the time it takes for common tasks. Any employer should be interested in increased efficiency and time available for additional projects.

  5. Why are they clock watchers? For traditional work places, it’s commonplace to expect employees to arrive early and stay a little late to ensure they give their “40” each week. Those millennials are always watching the clock, ready to head out the door as soon as the clock hits 5 o’clock. While it may be really irritating to employers who value the time their employees are present, it’s even more frustrating for a millennial to sit and wait for time to pass when he’s already completed all of his work for the day. Millennials thrive in a results-only work environment (ROWE), where their performance levels are measured, not their physical time at their desks. What should really count most? How effective an employee is or how much time he can spend sitting on company time? Employers who value their employees should reward for work well done...not just filling a time slot. 

I know that for many employers, it’s difficult to see the positive traits the millennials bring to the table. But, in many ways, they are the answers to many of your problems with efficiency and effectiveness. Their values mirror what it, often, takes to streamline mundane tasks and “find” time for extra projects.

Keep checking back for more information about how those “damn” millennials could bring a reality check to your organization.


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