An employer can’t work with Millennials anymore

A business owner hired a couple Millennials to do entry-level work. They didn’t do their jobs well. The experiences led the business owner to write a Daily Views piece for the New York Daily News exclaiming that he’ll never hire a Millennial again.

First, it’s probably not beneficial for him to publicly announce his soon-to-be ageist hiring practices. He’s liable to be sued by a Millennial who thinks he unfairly hires by age, which should open an entirely new can of worms.

That aside, this is the kind of piece that comes after years of defining a generation through mostly anecdotal evidence. The hard data about Millennials shows they care about their jobs when they feel like a member of the team, and that they seek work-life balance because life isn’t about burning yourself out at a job.

Those are both entirely agreeable sentiments.

But traditional anecdotal evidence says Millennials are lazy, want recognition just for showing up and try to take advantage of workplace rules.

The anecdotes cited in the New York Daily News piece paint these workers as terrible, but let’s cut the opinion out and state the facts:

  • Employee is chided over sloppy work; later that day, she reminds (later he says requests) employer that she has a vacation to take in Florida. Apparently she’s soon fired (not sure what for, as sloppy work can be fixed, and the vacation thing isn’t even clear), but was going to come back to work anyway on Monday. When told flat out that she was fired, the employee asks the employer if he knows of other ways to make money, then asks him if she could list his company as a reference.
  • A second employee announced she was leaving “effective immediately.” So she left, not sharing any passwords, etc.
  • A potential employee was rejected for a job after “compromising” photos of her on a website called “sexilicious.com” (that when I looked it up, doesn’t seem to exist) popped up in a search. Also she didn’t have great grammar in the photos. The employer writing the piece wanted to note that she had dreams of being a plus-size model.

To me, it seems as if the first employee was a bit of a problem, but I’m not sure why she was fired. Did the employer work with her to fix the sloppy work? Did he train her further? She committed a small faux pas with the vacation thing, but then again, maybe she did mention it upon hiring (or even in interview) and was simply reminding him. It’s not clear.

And the employee asking about other ways to make money, etc.: quite honestly, the employee may have been embarrassed. Who knows. This is an employee who, again, had a bit of a problem, but maybe she was salvageable.

As for the second employee, that’s a small bit of information with no context. Why did she leave? It leads me to wonder what else the employer knows about the situation, and why he isn’t writing anything more about it.

And the potential employee – look, a lot of Millennials have stuff on the internet. Now, I couldn’t find what he was talking about here, so I can’t tell what it was or how it was presented. Otherwise the grammar thing? Okay … a lot of people have bad grammar. The plus-size model note has no place in this piece.

In the end I can understand why this employer was angry and doesn’t want to hire Millennials anymore. He maybe feels burned and frustrated by this small cohort, leading him to make a bold statement that can be perceived as ageism.

That said, how do I know this guy isn’t a bad employer? He didn’t write about working with the first employee, he didn’t disclose anything about the second employee other than “she left abruptly” and the potential employee … well, why did he bring up the plus-size thing?

Moreover, why is he going out of his way, writing to the New York Daily News about a couple bad experiences?

“People who study these matters suggest that millennials grew up in a culture where everyone was made to feel special.

“You didn’t have to put forth an effort to win a ribbon or even a trophy.

“Just showing up was good enough.

“What a terrible lesson to teach young people.

“I don’t mean that adults should pace Patton-like in front of small children and inform them that the world doesn’t owe them a living.

“And yet, the world owes no one a living.”

Data shows that Millennials do put effort into work, but they’re simply doing work differently than other generations. Raised on the internet and evolving quickly with changing technologies, they’re not conforming to the same traditional workplace standards. Now, yes, there should be an understanding of good grammar and communication, plus how to act in a workplace setting among peers, but maybe there needs to be some give and take here.

Maybe employers and non-Millennials should be working with Millennials to achieve workplace harmony. Instead what I see in this piece is an employer angry that Millennials aren’t conforming to what he knows, his traditional workplace standards.

Every generation has brought something new to the table. How come it’s such a fight with the Millennial generation?

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