Millennials’ Work Ethic & Employment Realities

By Michael Mercer, Ph.D.

Complaints about hiring millennials make big news. People say Millennials are lazy, uninterested in working, and goof-off a lot.

“It’s like déjà vu all over again!”

Yogi Berra made that “déjà vu” remark. And that quote perfectly describes current bellyaching about hiring and managing Millennials.

I feel concerned that I might projectile vomit if I see one more article complaining about how (a) difficult it is to hire Millennials or (b) hard it is to manage Millennials or (c) pseudo-impossible about getting Millennials to produce a day’s work for a day’s pay.


  1. Some Millennials are lazy bums.
  2. Some Millennials are hard-working, very productive employees.

Lo-&-behold, this is “déjà vu all over again,” because the same two observations were made about every previous “generation” of job applicants and employees.

The same complaints leveled at Millennials were made about Generation X, Generation Y, Baby boomers, and every other “generation” that had a cute, convenient label.


To overcome your millennial hiring & supervising woes, simply do the following: Hire applicants who possess high likelihood of being both

  1. Highly Productive
  2. Low Turnover

Those two factors always should be your guiding light when you consider job applicants and decide whom to hire.


First, make lists of your best employees (highly productive and low turnover) in each job in your company.

Second, make pre-employment test benchmarks on those employees. To do this, have those superstar employees take two types of pre-employment tests:

  1. Intelligence or mental ability tests
  2. Personality or behavior tests

Your best employees’ typical scores on the intelligence and personality pre-hire tests become benchmark test scores you look for in applicants when they take the same two pre-employment assessment tests.

Third, make lists of objective biographical data (biodata) of your best employees in each job. For example, you may find your best Sales Reps worked in sales-oriented jobs in, let’s say, three previous companies for three years or more in each company. Well, then look for Sales Rep applicants who did that.

Or, for instance, if you have laborer jobs for doing outdoor labor, see if biodata of your company’s best laborers included doing hard work outdoors, rather than indoors. Then, you look for such biodata from applicants.

Fourth, give pre-employment tests to job applicants who have relevant biodata. Applicants who get same scores as your benchmark, superstar employees can proceed to the next step. (See second step, above.)

Fifth, do realistic job observation (RJO). Applicants who make it through your fourth step should spend half-day observing employees doing job for which they are being considered.

Fortunately, some applicants going through your RJO will decide they do not want to do that job, and withdraw from consideration. Congratulations! That is better than putting those applicants on your payroll, training them, and then discovering they do not care to do the work the job requires.

Sixth, as appropriate, do reference checks, background checks, and substance abuse tests. Some job candidates who get through your first through fifth steps will do well on these. Fortunately, some will reveal lousy characteristics you do not want in your workforce. Congratulations! Find out before you put the applicant on your payroll.


Recommendations =

  1. Stop complaining about Millennials.
  2. Remember = the same complaints were made about every previous “generation.”
  3. Complaining will not help you hire and manage a productive workforce.
  4. Use pre-employment tests to compare applicants to your company’s superstars.
  5. Also, use biodata, RJO, and other assessments.
  6. Result = You hire terrific employees!

Summary = Hire job applicants of any age or “generation” who possess work-related qualities similar to your company’s best, superstar employees in each job.

You will have a highly productive, low turnover workforce. And you will save a lot of time, because you will not waste time (a) complaining about Millennials nor (b) reading the endless articles moaning about Millennials.


Michael Mercer, Ph.D., wrote six books, including “Hire the Best & Avoid the Rest(tm)” and “Turning Your HR Dept. into a Profit Center(tm) “Dr. Mercer created 3 pre-employment tests – the “Forecaster™ Tests.”  These tests assess job applicants for intelligence, personality, and dependability. He is a frequent speaker at conferences.  Subscribe to “Dr. Mercer’s HIRE THE BEST Newsletter,” and see info about the 3 pre-employment tests, at For additional information, please contact Dr, Mercer at  or (847) 382-0690

Print Article

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.