We've all seen the headlines. Millennials are ‘entitled’ at work. They’re the ‘Me Me Me Generation’ and want success handed to them on a plate. As I wrote in my last post “The New Working Order” this stereotype does not reflect reality and perpetuated by a lack of understanding from people from different generations.

Perhaps employers should step back and ask the question “how do we maximise the potential talents that the next generation can bring to our business?”

I’ve been reading “The Multi Hyphen Method” by the author Emma Gannon. It’s about what the workplace might look like in the future. She says millennials get labelled "entitled" because "they get frustrated" by outdated and rigid workplace environments which aren't open to doing things differently. Because Millennials grew up online, its enable this new generation to experiment from an early age, teaching themselves new digital skills and shortcuts as they go.

When it comes to transferring these skills to the workplace, Gannon goes on to say millennials get frustrated when they find themselves in corporate organisations that aren't as open to change, and that are reluctant to break with the status quo - it jars because this new generation that is used to finding shortcuts and finding different ways to solve problems.

Work culture has changed and the focus of millennials is different to their parents. The traditional career ladder doesn’t exist any more and in fact millennials would rather take a salary cut to work in an environment that affords a better quality of life according to Gannon. Millennials want to work for organisations that show good corporate citizenship, communicate in an open and transparent way, with leaders who are authentic and values driven. Perhaps to older generations, millennials sense of integrity can be misconstrued as a sense of entitlement.

Differences in education could be another reason for the disconnect - older generations were taught to do "their own research, show their workings," and explain how they reached their answers. For millennials, the education system has been entirely different. Group-work is encouraged, research is no longer conducted alone in libraries, and debate and discussion form the basis of lessons, lectures and seminars. 

In the context of the workplace, older generations can find this way of working incredibly alien, they were taught to think for themselves, find their own facts and stand on their own two feet. Through this lens it's easy to understand why millennials can seem entitled to older generations. They’re not – they’re just different.

As technology continues to evolve it is rapidly changing the way we work and embracing the difference between the generations will become a necessity. In fact it will be critical for older generations to learn from millennials and their approach to work.

We’ve got millennials with so many talents and nickel skills that aren’t being fully utilised because of outdated structures and ways of working, in order for these unique talents to be fully harnessed. Perhaps its not the millennials who are the “me me me generation” and its time for organisations to really reflect on creating a workplace for the future.