Unwilling to Work? OR... Unwilling to Pretend?

I mentioned in a previous article that I often come across individuals in my networking groups who have negative biases towards Millennials. One of the most common misconceptions I hear about the entire generation is:

Millennials are unwilling to work.

I call BS.

This is not only about my personal experience of the hard work and dedication that goes into what I do, though that firsthand experience is valuable. This is about all of the individuals I know who are hard-working, diligent, dedicated, and incredibly well informed. Millennials. 

We are a generation of people who are passionate about a great deal, who strive to do and be more than is expected of us (admittedly, that isn't much), and who desperately want to learn and grow and be of value to the people around us.

So where does this stereotype come from?

The more I am interacting with people (mostly Baby Boomers) who have this misconception, the more I am coming to understand that this stereotype stems from our unwillingness to pretend.

Let me explain.

A supervisor enters the cube farm to check on her employees. She walks around and notices that her her Millennial staff are doing a range of activities. Some of them are typing away, but many of them are on their phones, some are laughing on their desk phones (maybe talking about the upcoming weekend), and a few are standing together doing seemingly nothing of value.

She is frustrated.

Why is this happening?

Her staff is unwilling to pretend.

Part of what is going on may just be a difference of work style. That group standing together may be having an informal meeting. Those laughing on their desk phones might be chatting with clients in the informal way that makes sense to them. Possibilities abound.

But it is also very likely that these individuals are talking to friends, chatting about nothing, or playing a game on their phone. God forbid one of them is checking his Facebook!

The reason, though, is not that these people are lazy.

They are bored.

They have nothing to do.

They don't feel anything valuable is waiting on their desks to be done.

You have not shown them why their work matters.

And they are not willing to pretend, for your sake, that the reality is any different. They may even hope that if they are clearly without work you will give them something of more value to do.

When I hear someone complaining that their staff member is always on Facebook, I wonder why their supervisor hasn't given them work.

When I hear someone complaining about Millennials showing up late for work, I wonder whether the beginning of the day has any value.

When I hear about Millennials completely skipping work, I wonder why those Millennials don't feel their work is valuable enough to be there for. 

Because I know that we are willing to work. And work hard.

But we are not willing to pretend.

Life is to short for that.

What struggles does your company have with Millennial staff and what might those problems stem from?