Millennial’s have the perceived reputation in the workplace as being lazy. I’m not totally convinced that is an accurate assessment on this world-changing generation.

I’ve worked with many Millennial’s, college interns and students, and have invested a lot of time and energy with them.

I think they’re fantastic.

There’s a discrepancy in opinion about them (I believe), because of a lack of understanding of their context. I myself am a borderline Gen x and Millennial.

As my generation and above have entered the workplace,  we’ve been desperate for jobs to keep us afloat and later on, our families. We worked hard in the workplace to keep our jobs to climb the ladder, and ensure long-term job security.
The biggest difference between Millennial’s and other generations is not that they’re lazy, but the desperation and drive to maintain and hold a job is completely different for them. Almost every Millennial has the option to go home and live, long term. Growing up, I remember many of my friends and I discussing how this was not an option. Either by choice or by her parents desire!

So what makes you stand out as a Millennial when you are not as motivated to keep a job because you have more options?

Initiative.

What sets the Millenial’s I have worked with apart from anything else, is there driving initiative. Some people call it ‘self-starting.’ I find this simple concept of initiative is foreign to this generation. What does initiative look like?

-Constantly asking for wisdom with project you’re unsure of.

-Asking for a new task when the one you are working on is completed and not waiting until someone realizes you need a new task.

-Taking initiative for your responsibilities or on behalf of someone else (when someone is sick, or out of the office, offering to pitch in).

Many millennial’s are willing to do the work and they are hard workers, but they don’t ever ask for responsibilities or ask for what is next or asked to be assigned a task. I have found many in this generation to wait for instruction, or wait for someone to tell them what to do. This feels like inaction and is usually interpreted as laziness, when actually they are hard workers. I know for my parent’s generation and especially my grandparent’s generation, you didn’t wait to ask for instruction, you sought after it, asked for new responsibilities, or asked for a new task because you wanted to keep your job.

The workplace is delicate and challenging, especially in these times were so much of it is virtual, living in a silo, and online. Consistently showing that you are interested in taking on responsibilities when yours are finished, or helping out when it isn’t your responsibility, not only shows that you’re a hard worker but that you can take initiative and leadership. If you put 10 millennial’s in a room and nine of them sit there and wait for instruction, but one goes to the door and asks what they can do to help, that one individual is set apart, setting the bar far above everyone else. It isn’t that the other nine don’t want to work, or aren’t interested in helping, or participating, but the one individual took initiative and is the one that stands out.

Initiative sets you apart in the workplace and makes you stand out.

What ways are you standing out at work? What does initiative look like for you, in your workplace?

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