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Work Ethic: Lost Cause For Millenials?

You aren’t sure you want to hire those lazy Millennials, so why should you worry about keeping them productive? Well, Millennials will be 75% of the workforce by 2025. So, the truth is, if you aren’t recruiting and engaging with Gen Y, you won’t have to worry about keeping them at all. And that will be an even bigger problem for you.

First, you are not alone if you’re under the impression that these kids are just lazy. Even Millennials have a low opinion of their generation’s work ethic. I was surprised recently to find myself in a heated debate with a group of Millennial friends about kids these days and how they don’t want to put in the hours at work.

Whether they do or don’t want to be in the office for 40 hours a week, Millennials are looking for jobs, and you’ll need to hire some eventually if you haven’t already. So, let’s discuss how to keep them engaged and productive once you have them. Millennials might get distracted easily, but…wait, what were we talking about…right, give them a few years and the right encouragement, and you won’t have to argue about work ethic anymore; it’ll be clear that Millennials’ productivity drives progress.


Yes, I said to encourage us. I know, everyone else puts their noses to the grindstone and doesn’t need any stinking trophy. But, Millennials like trophies. We were getting them to participate, just showing up. We didn’t even need to win. However, we were always participating. They don’t need to be shiny trophies. Find ways to give your Millennials positive feedback. If they do a good job, tell them.

Although Millennials like trophies, we are adults now; we want to earn them and will not accept insincerity. Giving feedback doesn’t always need to be positive. Millennials seek continuous feedback to learn from mistakes and identify ways to grow. Suggesting ways to grow engages them and benefits you.


Of course, you don’t have to do all the work when it comes to feedback. Millennials also like to give feedback, and they want you to listen. Ask for their ideas; show them you are paying attention. Giving them your ear creates “a cycle of kindness that becomes the foundation for loyalty and retention,” according to Chanelle Schneider, the founder of GenYChat on Twitter.

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Millennials are most productive in non-traditional, flexible work environments that leave room for fun. Let them surf the Web. It might seem like a waste of time, but people who surf the Web at work are more productive. According to Cisco’s Connected World Technology Report in 2011, 40% of Millennials think access to the internet is even more important than dating (could personal online time reduce distracting workplace romances? Maybe!) The report also shows that 56% of Millennials won’t even accept a job that bans social media.


To keep Millennials engaged, you need to keep them moving forward with fluid job descriptions. Allow them to pursue interests and grow professionally with you. Only 1/3 of Millennials have jobs in their prospective careers. With you, they want to engage in growth towards their desired career. While this might not mean you keep them forever, it does mean that while they work for you, they are productive. Allow them to take on projects that interest them, which can beef up their résumés and benefit your organization. They might even find their niche with you and stay.

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If you can’t keep them, be prepared to lose them. Capture what they know by documenting it along the way. Gather what you can from them in exit interviews before they’re gone. Use it as an opportunity to learn, and don’t take it personally. As we’ve established, millennials love to give feedback, and they are a valuable resource for you to learn how to engage and keep the next Millennials you hire.

What do you do to engage your Millennials? Are they worth it? Go ahead, tell me; I love feedback!


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