CEB Blogs


Human Resources

HR: The Millennial Myth

Conflicting advice and opinions about millennials that dominate media headlines can leave HR leaders confused; we dispel three critical millennial myths

Social Media Millennial Mind 2Businesses today are waging a war for millennial talent—also known as Generation Y, or those born between 1980 and 2000. Millennials are highly educated and organizations are eager to put their unique skills and knowledge to work.

At the same time, organizations have major concerns regarding this fast-growing talent segment, including:

  • As the oldest millennials become leaders, how do we pass down organizational knowledge?
  • Because millennials have lower intent to stay versus other employee groups, how do we retain the best of the best?

CEB HR undertook a large quantitative study to separate fact from fiction and ultimately address two areas of focus for our member companies:

  • What common assumptions about millennials are true?
  • What are the most common myths about millennials, and what does it mean for management?

The data showed three critical myths of millennial management, and importantly three proven strategies for effectively managing millennials in the workforce.

Myth #1: Millennials are more collaborative than competitive

Myth Busted: Millennials are actually more competitive than other generations.  They are more driven by relative performance than absolute performance.

Indeed, millennials are 10% more likely than other generations to compare their performance to their peers’ performance. What’s more, they’re 16% less likely than other generations to be competitive with themselves.

The best companies motivate millennials by providing comparison opportunities.  This involves increasing visibility of millennials’ impact.


Myth #2: Millennials rely on their peers to get work done

Myth Busted: Millennials are more connected outside of work than non-millennials (78% of millennials use social networking compared to 34% of non-millennials), but their internal networks are actually slightly smaller than those of non-millennials.

More important, millennials don’t make sufficient use of their peers at work.  They have the connections, but they don’t trust peers’ input. As one member put it to us, “Millennials don’t trust people at work inherently, [since they] are taught to be skeptical from a young age.”

The best companies increase millennials’ trust through greater understanding of the value of peer input.  When employees, millennial or otherwise, have peers they can trust and rely on, it drives enterprise contribution more than simply having connections at work.


Myth #3: Millennials want to organization hop

Myth Busted: Millennials want to experience hop, not organization hop.  It just happens that millennials look externally for these opportunities more than non-millennials.  They are though just as willing as non-millennials to look for these opportunities internally.

Some organizations try to retain millennials by promising fast career progression.  But according to our research, such a strategy yields less than 1% impact on intent to stay.

The better approach is to help millennials identify opportunities for lateral career moves within the organization.  When done effectively, this can improve millennial’s “intent to stay” by up to 23%.


Visit for more insight into this talent segment.  And hear more about millennials and STEM talent (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) at the upcoming CEB Summit for HR Executives 2014 (17 September, Chicago; 7-8 October, London).  The summit represents a unique opportunity to access best practices and insight-based benchmarks for tackling key human capital challenges, network with a broad peer group, and gain innovative approaches to lead HR into the future.  Timed to coincide with strategic planning season, the event allows you to confirm your 2015 priorities and plan and evaluate strategies with peers.  The summit is exclusively for global heads of HR at large enterprises and members of his/her leadership team including heads of Learning & Development, Recruiting, Talent Management, Compensation, Benefits, and Total Rewards.  Request Your Seat For Chicago | Request Your Seat For London

One Response

Leave a Reply



Recommended For You

The Compensation Moments That Matter

According to CEB’s latest Global Workforce Insights report, compensation remains the top driver of employee...