LAST_UPDATEMon, 16 Jul 2018 2pm

“Narcissistic, Overconfident, Entitled And Lazy” – Are These Really The Attitudes Of Malaysian Millennials At Work?

Constantly on Facebook, Snapchat, taking selfies and posting them on Instagram, never “connecting” with the world anymore, only cares about parading Chanel bags or dressing from top-to-toe in Prada, never bother about buying a house or car, constantly job hopping – this best exemplifies millennials, otherwise known as “The Me Me Me Generation,” as TIME magazine puts it.

The generation born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, often hear these stereotypes about them, especially called narcissistic, overconfident, entitled and lazy. “They’re narcissistic. They’re lazy. They’re coddled. They’re even a bit delusional,” according to TIME, making them the “worst generation of all time”.

Despite the fact that millennials do view themselves as a bit more narcissistic than generations before them, but not to the extent that older generations do, according to new research presented Jan 29 at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) in San Diego, millennials have very fresh, unadulterated outlooks on projects, ideas, and on life, in general.

When it comes to work, they get bored with routine, and demand a more relaxed and less rigid management style and work culture. They also expect rapid progression, promotion and love special recognition. “They will be the most high maintenance workforce in the history of the world, but they may also be the most high performing,” says Bruce Tulgan, consultant and author of 'It’s Okay to Manage Your Boss.'

Now, Malaysian Digest asked several millennials to find out if those labels are true, especially in embarking on their ideal career in life. Their responses? Spoiler alert: Mostly, as how you would expect it to be.

Attitude Towards Work

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) has conducted a survey on millennials regarding their attitude towards the workplace, exploring five data stories; individual compromise, factors that make an organisation attractive, importance of shared values, advancement opportunities and work schedule based on numbers collected from several countries including Malaysia.

According to the results, 77 per cent Malaysian millennials feel that they had to make multiple compromises with their current job – from accepting lower salary, lower work benefits, working outside their sectors and job roles, to having limited opportunities for advancement, and working for an organisation that was not their first choice among few others. And surprisingly, these numbers are higher than the world average of 72 per cent who feel the same way.

A.Ross, 23, a management trainee for a large international banking and financial service organisation based in Kuala Lumpur is one of the majority of millennials here faced with this problem.A. Ross A. Ross

“Yes, I do compromise a lot when I look for jobs. But if I feel that I have given in too much, I would continue searching for other opportunities while working at my current job.

“But the global economic outlook has led me to find ways to preserve my current job instead of searching for new ones,” he lamented.

Ben, 26, also shared similar views regarding making sacrifices in the wake of the current economic downturn.

“I am a contracted staff and in these trying times, I would want a more secure job,” the mechanical engineer stated.

When it comes to loyalty to his workplace, the millennial who is currently working at a large German tech-based corporation added, “To me loyalty works both ways. To know my contract will not be renewed doesn’t instil any loyalty to me.”

Meanwhile, there are also those who have no problem with the amount of sacrifices they have to make to secure their career.

Syaza Abidin, 23, feels that working in the field of her choice is more worth it than the salary that is given.

“I am an engineering graduate and I really want to apply my knowledge in the engineering industry.

“I don’t mind having a small pay because I feel lucky to have found a career of my choice and I am very satisfied with it,” said the network engineer from a local telecommunications company.

And as for changing employers in a short career span, Keri Hanipah, 24, disagrees up to a point.

“Personally, I don’t recommend changing employers in a short term. Having different jobs in a span of two years could negatively affect your employment, especially when it is written in your resume.

“There are many millennials that keep switching jobs but I believe that we should only jump to another job if we can no longer see our career progression within the company,” expressed the executive of RHB Bank. 

Generational Tension: Young Vs Old

The common consensus is that many older fellow colleagues and employers do not relate well to the ways of the millennials as their outwardness in handling problems are considered intimidating and controversial to the older generations.Keri HanipahKeri Hanipah

Mufa M, 24, agrees: “The biggest thing with millennials is that they are more willing to just plough things through,” he stated, noting that this particular group are most likely to not think before they act while they do have pure intentions to learn.

While the older ones tend to have doubts on the younger group’s attitude in the workplace, the millennials do more commonly express their wish to be mentored by the employers and older colleagues.

“I would make the older and more experienced figures in the workplace as my mentor and I would want them to teach me all the things that are important for the millennials to have,” he added.

Syaza also expressed the same sentiments: “I am currently the youngest in my workplace and my colleagues are much older than me. I am very fortunate to have colleagues who are very responsive and helpful,” she noted.

She adds, “These people have decades of experience in the industry and I am very thankful that they are willing to entertain and answer questions from a noob like me,” further proving that these so-called entitled and selfish generation might have been mistakenly labelled by the older generations.

Although they value working and being mentored by older generations, some still feel that their superiors do not always understand the way they work, in particularly when it comes to using certain technologies at work.

Millennials are known to get tasks done in the most efficient and productive way possible. Being a generation that is more affluent with technology, they see that it frees them to work productively from anywhere. But many feel held back in their careers as older bosses who are more accustomed to older work cultures and believe in the inherent value of face time.

“I work in a large corporation with plenty of red tape. The tech has helped but compared to university where there is no red tape in type of apps that are accessible, you will just wonder if companies are using the best tools in their business. Many times they just slow things down,” said Ben.

And when it comes to voicing out your say on the matter, Ben identifies with the struggles due to the generational differences.

“Employers or bosses from older generations tend to boss you around and value little of your opinion despite them trying to do away with old habits.

“The intentions are there to change (like consider your opinions) but if the mind-set has not changed, I feel this never-ending saga will stay,” he quipped.

A Need To Satisfy Wanderlust

Based on the PWC millennials survey, more than 90 per cent Malaysian millennials believe that they need international experiences to further their career, compared to the world average being 66 per cent.

Lokini Santhirasegaran, 25, is one who dreams of working abroad one fine day.

“I have always wanted to work abroad since I didn’t have the chance to study abroad.

“My parents have worked abroad and hearing their stories about the totally different working culture abroad, motivates me to wanting to personally experience all that one day,” she wistfully claims.

Besides adding in to an impressive resume, Mufa M. also considers working abroad good for his bank account, especially in countries with higher currencies.

“Why not while you are still not attached to many other ‘adult’ responsibilities?

“Besides, the currency is good. I would do it if I have the chance,” expressed the 24-year-old.

A.Ross on the other hand will only consider that option for a short while: “I will consider working overseas but not for a long period of time as I am very fond of the Malaysian working culture.”

Dzaim AdzmiDzaim AdzmiDzaim Adzmi, 29, is one among the few who has done it and lived to tell the tale.

“I was 27. I left my job and accepted an offer to become a chef in a Malaysian restaurant in Seoul, South Korea.

“I spent roughly eight months there before I decided it was time for me to return home. Once I got back to Malaysia, I had to apply other jobs.

“If you ask me would I ever do it again, I would say ‘YES’ in a heartbeat!,” he expressed enthusiastically.

They Want A Work-Life Balance

Millennials are the unhappiest when they don’t get work-life balance. According to a recent survey by Ernst & Young’s Global Generation Research, nearly one-third of millennials say managing their work, family, and personal responsibilities has become more difficult in the past five years. And nearly half—47 per cent —are working more hours, compared with 38 per cent of Generation X and 28 per cent of baby boom workers.

Lokini agrees with the millennials’ general notion on the significance of work-life balance.

“Some youngsters may feel now is the time to earn money and tend to neglect their personal and social life.

“Sadly, they fail to realise that the work-life balance is vital. What is the point of stressing out to earn money when you are not enjoying life?

“I believe that if you have a balanced life, you’ll be more capable to perform at work,” she expressed.

Ben also agrees that although taking up work challenges is admirable, one should not neglect their well-being especially at this crucial age when it is ideal to start developing good health habits.

“Financial rewards will come as you progress but life is not all about work. Health, be it physical or mental is more important.

“At the end of the day when you lose any of the two, corporations are not going to take care of you despite the fancy tag lines during recruitment.

“Loyal corporations are a rare commodity,” said Ben.

Of course, there are those who view otherwise.

“For me, as of now, I would prioritise financial gains,” said Mufa M.

“But then, I’ve eventually realised that money is also very important,” he stressed.

“My current job has given me a lot of personal development and ideal work-life balance. I also get to explore and meet a lot of people and go to events," he concluded.

Looks like it’s true – the “Me Me Me Generation” are challenging the traditional workplace norms today and will take over the workforce one day.

But until they advance in their careers and create a new generation of managers, for now they may have to compromise their goals and ambitions, and accept the reality is that an older generation of workers still sets the standard for where and how work is done at many organisations. Otherwise, their actions might end up hurting their careers.

- mD