Millennial stereotypes debunked as research confirms they display a full range of personality types

Millennial stereotypes debunked and they might even have a variety of personality typesWith a plethora of reports around that generalise the behaviour of an entire generation of people, yet another exploration of the Millennial has to be approached with caution. But for this latest study, “The Millennial mindset: Work styles and aspirations of the most misunderstood worker”, Deloitte Greenhouse analyses the Business Chemistry types of millennials and (thank goodness) dismisses some of the most common stereotypes. Among the key findings, 60 percent of millennials identify with two of the four primary Business Chemistry types: Guardians, detail-oriented pragmatists, and Drivers, who focus on outcomes and goals. It also found that 59 percent of millennials identify with a workstyle that is more introverted and less comfortable with ambiguity in the workplace—very different from traditional thinking about millennials. In contrast, the study reveals that baby boomers are represented by millennials’ opposing Business Chemistry types – Pioneer and Integrator, the two most nonlinear, ambiguity tolerant and networked work styles. Twenty-nine percent of baby boomers identify as Pioneer – with an equal number identifying as Integrator – while 22 percent identify as Driver and only 20 percent as Guardian.

“Intriguingly, millennials, the cohort often referred to as ‘generation me,’ are most likely to identify with the pragmatic, detail-oriented Guardian; and least likely to identify with the outgoing, spontaneous and imaginative Pioneer,” said Selena Rezvani, who led the study for the Deloitte Greenhouse Experience group. “It seems some of the most common stereotypes associated with millennials – being wide-eyed idealists and networked social creatures – are at odds with the Business Chemistry types that characterize the majority of this group. Improving generational intelligence by understanding the work preferences of millennials – the largest share of the labor force today – may be the key to unlocking their commitment and engagement.”

Business Chemistry types can be broken down into another dimension, across introversion and extroversion. Guardians are joined in the introverted category by Dreamers, a subtype of Integrators, and Scientists, a subtype of Driver. Meanwhile, Pioneers are joined in the extroverted category by Teamers, a subtype of Integrator, and Commanders, a subtype of Driver. The study found 59 percent of millennials are introverted Business Chemistry types, significantly more than Gen Xers, at 46 percent, and baby boomers at 43 percent. Compared to older generations, millennials are inclined to be more restrained, quieter thinkers.

 Millennials’ approach to work

Deloitte’s research explored whether there are pronounced behavioural traits that are shared among millennials – regardless of Business Chemistry type – that inform their approach to work. Millennials’ scores on 68 traits that make up Business Chemistry were compared to those of the older generations. Statistically-significant differences were found in several traits, one of which is tolerance for ambiguity. Millennials are significantly less likely than their older counterparts to be comfortable not knowing all the answers.

Additionally, millennials are more likely to:

  • Take time with decisions
  • Enjoy planning details
  • Be less trusting of others
  • Prefer to have all of the relevant information when beginning a project
  • Be less comfortable tolerating conflict
  • Prefer to work with colleagues who have strengths similar to their own, rather than those with diverse strengths

 Generation stressed

In analysing stress levels among generations, the study revealed that millennials experience the highest levels of stress overall compared with other generations, though not by a large margin. Millennial Integrators and Guardians – the types most likely to tolerate risk rather than embrace it – report the highest stress, with approximately 40 percent saying they’re stressed much of the time. On the other hand, millennial Drivers and Pioneers – the types that take charge – report less stress, with just over a quarter saying they’re stressed. This pattern mirrors findings from a previous Business Chemistry stress study which reports that Guardians were most likely to report experiencing stress, followed by Integrators.

“Collectively, these findings point to a millennial that is more deeply layered than stereotypes may lead one to believe. For example, a millennial active on social media may appear to be stereotypically extroverted, but offline they may actually prefer solitude to socializing. Further, our analysis shows that millennials are often more likely to read more deeply into issues and situations, versus simply taking them at face value,” commented Kelly Monahan, Ph.D., Deloitte’s Center for Integrated Research. “Perhaps millennials, as the digital natives that they are, understand that there are limits to what you can glean in tone or intent merely from the surface.”

To read more about the study see the full report.