It’s not easy being a millennial. We don’t always have the best workplace reputation. We’re thought of as entitled, always looking for the next best thing, distracted by technology….
…Hold on, let me send this quick tweet….OK, done!
But are these qualities really that bad? Paired with the right workplace environment, all of our “self-serving” millennial qualities are not only positive, but exactly what will help us grow and thrive.
Millennials in the Workplace
The millennial stereotype just won’t go away, even though many of us millennials are in our early 30s by now! Just Google “millennials in the workplace” and you’ll see what I mean: Why Millennials Don't Want To Work For You, 8 Reasons Millennials Seem To Be Lazy At Work, and Do Millennials Make for Bad Employees? are just a few of the headlines. (And, yes, I did just use Google search results to make a factual point. Reliant on technology? Check!)
These headlines exist, however, because the approach of many companies to integrating millennial workers is to make them a round peg, rather than helping them transform themselves into the square hole. And by doing this, these companies are missing an opportunity to actually leverage the qualities of millennials that are exactly what they need to do business in today’s rapidly changing environment.
Working in the Millennial-place
As a millennial who has been working at Dell for almost four years, I see it differently. I have found that all my “millennial” qualities have supported, even promoted, my success in the company. (And a Facebook poll I sent to my peers this very minute confirms they agree.)
So why, if millennials are said to be hard to work with and never settle down at work, have so many found a home at Dell?
As the good millennial I am, when in doubt, Google it. So I did a little research and found 5 prominent millennial stereotypes. I then turned these sterotypes on their head, and found that, in fact, these traits are exactly the characteristics that have made my professional life at Dell effective and fulfilling.
1. We’re easily sidetracked by technology
Guilty as charged! But, really, use of technology is a productive. As a Dell marketer, technology is all around me, and it’s my job to stay on top of the latest developments. From tracking social media performance, to managing sales leads, to communicating with our customers, none of these tasks could be accomplished without the aid of marketing technology. At Dell, I am expected to attend tech conferences, read articles, and, yes, even engage on social media (during work hours!) to understand that latest happenings in marketing technology.
2. We’re job hoppers
It’s true. Millennials probably have a shorter attention span than some generations before us. And this may bleed into what we see as appropriate job tenure. At Dell, this need for constant change is welcomed — because it’s going to happen, like it or not. We work in a world of constant change, and to stay ahead of the market, this means departments, teams, and job descriptions cannot remain stagnant. Even within my short time at Dell, I have had three job titles, and many different roles and responsibilities within each of these. I love the constant change and opportunity to experience different areas of the company: from product launches, to regional marketing in Mexico, to working on social media campaigns. It keeps me engaged, on my toes, and constantly learning (see #4).
3. We want special privileges
Who doesn’t want special privileges?! But in all seriousness, it is a prevalent stereotype that millennials are entitled and self-serving. But what this really means is we have high standards for what we want out of our job and our employer, and we are not going to settle for less. Ok, so at Dell we don’t have unlimited cereal, granola bars, and M&Ms (HR, are you reading this?). But we do have excellent health benefits and, in many locations, education reimbursement, an office gym, and cafeteria. Not to mention the seemingly limitless opportunities for personal and professional development. For example, Dell marketers have access to hundreds of courses through Dell Marketing University.
4. We lack experience
This is the old chicken-and-egg that many millennials face: But how can we get experience if no one will give it to us!? Dell is willing to take on that challenge. Our Legacy of Good goals targets that by 2020, 25 percent of new hires at Dell will be new grads. Dell is a place where you learn on the job. It is my experience that Dell hires for cultural fit, motivation, ambition, and hard work – if you have the right attitude, the job can be taught to you. I have experienced this in all of my jobs at Dell (see #2).
5. We work on our own schedule
Are your most productive times at 9pm or 6am? In many positions at Dell, this is ok. Live in Alaska, or Prague? That is likely ok, too. Dell is a huge believer that the best talent does not always live within driving distance of a Dell office, or work 9-5. That’s why the company is open-minded about all the ways people work: flex time, compressed schedules, remote working, job sharing, and dogs barking on conference calls (ok, sometimes that’s annoying, but we’re mostly ok with it). As a woman, I am especially observant about how new mothers are treated at Dell. I know if I ever have children, I will be supported both by Dell’s policy as well as my colleagues.
It probably sounds like I am being paid to write this. Well, I am…technically. In truth, where you work and what work culture you fit into is a personal decision. And for millennials, many companies probably have not made a shift that works well with our expectations of living a full life, where work and life are not two separate things. In my experience, Dell has given me this balance – to be myself, and find challenging, rewarding work at the same time.