Millennial Work Ethic

There’s no doubt, Millennials want to work less and expect more than hard-working Boomers. It leaves quite a division in the workplace as business owners with marginal budgets try to manage labor costs with productivity. How is the Millennial work ethic affecting small business?

Millennials have had it pretty good. They grew up with cell phones and tablets in their hands along with technological automation forcing them to acclimatize to the idea that less than desirable jobs can be performed with some degree of efficacy by robots, requiring fewer humans to be needed in businesses which can afford the technology.

We are seeing many businesses close left and right due to the huge gap between full automation (or inexpensive imports) and businesses that could maintain a profit, or at least run in the black, using human labor. Those days are gone. The millennials are pleased about this.

Working hard for a dollar is unglamorous, to say the least, but they still want the money to get the things they want, and the things they want aren’t cheap. So, they have to get a job.

While there are still some small businesses surviving and hiring individuals to work, there are many opportunities for Millennials to find a job, though the job may not be a premium position, it will allow them to pay some bills and get-by meagerly if they are frugal. But how long can you live like that?

I do a good deal of work with entrepreneurs who are always looking for good talent. They hire continuously from the available labor market at above-expected pay rates and are more often than not disappointed with the talent they have to choose from.

Their business models are based on being able to earn a return on their labor expenses to maintain their bottom line, so the need for a certain amount of productivity is imperative if they are to survive over time.

They report the Millennial labor pool is less concerned about their contribution and more concerned about doing as little as possible for the highest wage. Their opinion is that there is less work ethic and sense of being a part of the team. If something goes amiss in their department, they jump right to, “Oh well, it’s not my job,” then reach for their cell phone to check their messages while their coworker is left to frustratingly fend for themselves.

Back in the day, any of us would have pitched in to help someone else in our department, instead of using it as an opportunity to check our social media accounts (which, unfortunately – or fortunately – didn’t exist years ago).

These employers have a high rate of turnover, not for the reason you might think. If you’re like me, you think they’d be firing these low-productivity employees. No, they keep them on with the hopes of trying to eek out enough to cover the expenses. But what really happens is, when the employees get the idea that management might not be pleased with their performance, they walk off, or don’t show up the next day for their scheduled shift. Gone. No call, no show. Good luck.

There is no respect for the employer, even enough to give them notice. These complaints are common among employers all over the United States, and usually includes the mention of, “entitlement,” somewhere within the conversation.

Then there’s this: The people who own the factories which were inherited from their ancestors, have no one to take over the business because those millennials who are heirs to the industrial revolution’s hand-down have no interest in working in the manner required to take it over and run it. They don’t want it, even if it were given to it.

It’s no wonder these businesses are closing. If it’s not enough to have to compete with foreign labor markets and huge competitors who can slay your business in one fell swoop.

The answer?

Find new ways to do business, or other businesses to be in, where your reliance on Millennial labor is decreased enough to manage your business successfully, or create a businesses model that is so incredibly profitable (high margin business) affording you to pay inflated labor costs to unproductive employees.


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