More than a few HR professionals have combed the Internet, consulted their peers, and examined their own experiences as they search for a crystal ball capable of revealing the future of the millennial generation in the workplace. Some HR pros see enormous potential in well-educated, confident, passionate, energetic, and collaborative team players, while others see the youngest employees as high maintenance—workers who are inexperienced but still feel entitled to high salaries, generous perks, and constant feedback.
With all that’s been written and discussed about the youngest generation in the workforce, it’s easy to forget that generational groups are made up of individuals and that not all characteristics assigned to a particular group apply to everyone in the group. It’s certainly possible—maybe even common—to find Millennials who don’t fit the stereotype, but stereotypes persist nevertheless. It’s also tempting to think that some of the workplace inequalities affecting older generations are no longer an issue for today’s youngest workers, issues such as equal pay for men and women in the same jobs. A few recent studies shed some light on where Millennials stand in terms of pay and opportunities as well as the stereotypes they face as they take their place in the workforce.
An analysis of Census data conducted by the Pew Research Center indicates that Millennial women are beginning their careers “at near parity with men” in terms of wages. “In 2012, among workers ages 25 to 34, women’s hourly earnings were 93% those of men,” the Pew report states. “By comparison, among all working men and women ages 16 and older, women’s hourly wages were 84% those of men.”
The report also notes that women in the young age group were more likely than men in the same age group to have completed a bachelor’s degree. Thirty-eight percent of women and 31% of men had completed the degree in 2013.
In spite of progress on the wage front, the research points out that the near parity may not hold out. “Recent cohorts of young women have fallen further behind their same-aged male counterparts as they have aged and dealt with the responsibilities of parenthood and family,” the Pew report notes. “For women, marriage and motherhood are both associated with less time spent on paid work-related activities. For men, the onset of family responsibilities has a reverse effect on their career.”
The Pew Research Center in December reported on a survey it conducted of 2,002 adults, including 810 Millennials (ages 18-32). The survey found that 75 percent of Millennial women and 57 percent of Millennial men believed the country still needs to focus on gender equality in the workplace. But just 15 percent of the Millennial women polled said they have experienced gender discrimination in their work.
HR attitudes on Millennials
Beyond.com, an online career network, released a survey in May showing major differences in how HR professionals view Millennials and how the young workers see themselves.
Loyalty was the most conspicuous difference identified in the survey of 6,000 jobseekers and HR professionals. In the survey, just 1% of the HR professionals felt Millennials would be loyal to an employer for the long term, while 82% of the Millennials identified themselves as loyal.
The survey found 60 percent of Millennials called themselves good team players, with just 22% of the HR pros believing Millennials make good team players. Eighty-six percent of Millennials identified themselves as hard workers, while just 11 percent of HR pros thought of Millennials that way.
The survey also found that 40% of Millennials called themselves leaders, but just 9% of HR professionals believed the age group had the ability to lead. Technological expertise was another area showing a difference in attitude. Eighty-six percent of the HR pros said they consider Millennials tech-savvy, while just 35 percent of Millennials labeled themselves that way.
Tammy Binford writes and edits news alerts and newsletter articles on labor and employment law topics for BLR Web and print publications. In addition, she writes for HR Hero Line and Diversity Insight, two of the ezines and blogs found on HRHero.com.