Did you decide to read this because the headline promised salacious details about what you find to be a difficult demographic? Is engaging and motivating the Millennial workforce a struggle? How’s your company’s ‘Gen Y’ retention record? Had enough of this generation? Read on, my friend!

In the interest of full disclosure, Solutions 21 is a leading Millennial advocate. Why? Because we’ve seen example after example of ‘emerging talent’ stepping up and successfully tackling big responsibilities and accomplishing more than what their leadership thought was possible. That’s our experience anyway. Your perception may be a little different.

Here’s a simple test we’ve used to predict a company’s success with Millennials: Ask company leadership (or yourself, if that’s you) to write down 3 words that describe this cohort. We’ve literally asked that question of business leaders around the world. ‘Tech savvy’ comes up a lot and then it typically goes downhill from there. After we get past ‘pierced and tattooed’, the most frequent responses are slackers, instant gratification seekers, disloyal job-jumpers, self-centered narcissists, pampered and spoiled, disrespectful, and entitled. Not exactly descriptive of your perfect employee.

However, we’ve found a different set of beliefs in client companies that are ‘killin’ it’ with Millennials:

These kids today… don’t equate time with money. They are the most educated and skilled workforce ever, more so than the incumbent workforce. Given a compelling reason to perform, they’ll do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to get the job done; you just might not ‘see’ them doing it! Location independence is an important component. If you value butts-in-seats more than quality results, well, good luck with that…

These kids today… aren’t afraid to ask. As digital natives, they carry the world’s knowledge in their pockets (or on their wrists) and they know how to use it. They’ve been bombarded with advertising their whole lives so they tend to see through and question superficial responses. They’re used to fast answers (‘Google’ is now a verb) so when they ask for information or direction, they do so to accelerate a result.

These kids today… see a career ‘lattice’ not a career ‘ladder.’ Most Millennials hit the workforce with a diversified experience and knowledge base. Early accomplishments in music, dance, writing, and sports are not uncommon. International travel, a second language, and a broad social network are hallmarks of this generation. So, why would work be any different? Challenging, high-profile projects in a different discipline, working with a compelling leader, joining a start-up team, or fighting for a worthwhile cause all work to build strong leadership skills and an exciting career.

These kids today… volunteer at a record rate. Millennials have the highest volunteer rate of any generation ever! So, the next time your applicant asks about your vacation policy, ask them why they want to know. It might be to fulfill a commitment they made to a relief agency in Haiti…

These kids today… were valued by their parents. But it wasn’t a Millennial idea to give everyone a trophy, that notion came from Boomer parents. I’ll guarantee you that the kids in that T-Ball game knew who won…

These kids today… ask ‘why’ out of purposeful curiosity. Boomers were known for rebellion so, when we asked ‘why’ it was from a ‘who-do-you-think-you-are’ perspective. Not so with Millennials. Their question comes from trying to connect a request to a ‘big picture’ outcome.

These kids today… were told they could be anyone. Do you have cool ‘apps’ on your smartphone that make you more effective (or help you escape when stressed)? The explosion of smartphone apps started around 2007-2008. Remember those times? The ‘Great Recession’ taught Millennials resilience in the face of weak job prospects as they came out of school. Sure, some whined but some also assessed their assets and became ‘Dorm-room Millionaires,’ using what they knew (tech) to spark a new entrepreneurial wave.

These kids today… are looking for organizations that ‘get it.’ And if they can’t find it, they create it on their own.

What do you believe to be true about these kids today? Your answer will determine your organization’s future. Hey, no pressure…