Entitled. Whiny. Lazy. Resentful. Millennials have heard these accusations about our behavior in the workplace ever since we entered it. Our bosses fear our inevitable demands for participation trophies, organic snacks, and poor office etiquette. Millennials, of course, have always known that's nonsense, and finally there's evidence that the higher-ups are catching on.
Business Insider spoke with the research firm 747 Insight about its new study on employer relationships with different age cohorts. Titled "Generation Nation," the results are behind a steep paywall, but researchers have shared one validating finding: All those hyped-up fears were just that, hype.
Millennial workers work hardest when they believe in the value of their work, not just to the company, but to the greater good and to themselves. If an employer supports them, they're more willing to let work bleed into personal time, which may feed into millennials' strong belief in their own work ethic (57 percent said they considered themselves hard workers). A lot of that ties into a fundamental hopefulness about the future and their place in it.
But millennials also need to watch out for themselves: It's easy for employers to turn that belief in a shared project into overwork and burnout. Netflix engineer Jacques Favreau recently took a job posting to task for bragging about team members devoting more than 70 hours each week to their tasks. "For the record: That's not a 'strong work ethic,'" he wrote in a Twitter thread last week. "That's exploiting young unattached engineers and spinning it as 'team culture.'"
While employers can recognize the strengths of millennials in the workplace, it's important for workers to understand their rights and their limits. If you believe your boss has unreasonable expectations for you, given the time and resources at your disposal, talk it out in a clear, evidence-based way at a meeting you schedule. Know how to ask for a raise if you determine you're being underpaid for your labor. Being firm about your needs is self-care in every sense of the word. Toxic and inflexible workplaces with no room for growth aren't just harmful to your career, they're harmful for your health as well.
It's easy to forget that you have power as an employee. Miscommunications are often the root of problems at work, which makes them resolvable. But if you need to walk away from a position, that's okay too — after all, your employers know what drives you and what you can really do.