Why Trying to Fix Your “Lazy” Millennial Marketers is a Waste of Time

marketing recruiting agency

Oh great, it’s happened again. That new young marketer with all those flashy modern skills just isn’t working out.

They don’t have the right work ethic. They’re not integrating well into your corporate mindset. They need their hand held through everything. They struggle to complete the most basic tasks.

Yet another failed Millennial hire that needs an attitude adjustment, right?

We’ve heard it all before; complaining about Millennials has become a favorite hobby of business leaders, especially in the marketing space. But a lot of that ire is misdirected, and many of the efforts invested into overcoming the related problems are simply wasted resources.

Instead of blaming your woes on the latest generation of professionals and wasting valuable time trying to fix a lost cause, update your perspective and try a more productive route.

The Truth About “Lazy”

Here’s a secret about your poorly performing Millennial: their focus and drive (or lack thereof) have very little to do with that year they were born.

Despite popular perceptions, Millennials aren’t significantly less capable than anyone else. Every generation has its share of geniuses and dunces (though it may be the case that Millennials have more opportunities to publicly put their brilliance or stupidity on display).

Here’s a little more on what I had to say about the subject at an American Marketing Association chapter meeting themed “Millennials in the Workplace:”

When you’re struggling to get a Millennial hire focused through the many distractions we often associate with them–social media, mobile devices, whatever–it’s important to keep in mind that it’s less of a generational problem and more of an individual problem.

And that’s good news if you’re a company that plans on staying in business, because you’re going to be relying on Millennial marketing talent more and more whether you like it or not. With the right adjustments to your marketing recruitment strategy, you should be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.

But it’s bad news if you’re that unproductive millennial, because it means your professionalism problem is a personal one. And those can be hard to overcome.

All the CMO’s Horses, and All the CMO’s Men…

fixing marketing staffing agency

Much like Humpty Dumpty, some things just can’t be fixed. That includes a clueless, apathetic employee.

It’s one thing to invest in redirecting misplaced ambition or training a receptive mind on a brand new subject they know nothing about. But stuffing a square peg in a round hole or teaching patience to a mule is another. At a certain point, your efforts to improve productivity become an exercise in futility.


Maybe they just aren’t a great fit for your organization. Maybe they’re genuinely incompetent. Whatever the case, they’re draining your resources and bringing the rest of the team down.

You’re usually better off cutting your losses than trying to patch a hole in a sinking ship. Instead, let them go try something else and learn from your mistakes so you make a better talent decision next time.

The Talent Worth Saving

It’s wise not to abandon all hope just because someone gets off to a rocky start. You’d quickly run out of employees that way. Sometimes your marketer has the potential to be a good employee, and just needs some refinement.

If your marketer has great work ethic but doesn’t quite “get it,” you can work with that kind of person and, with the right guidance and leadership, orient that hard work in a positive direction. Similarly, if your Millennial talent is clever and bright but not as proactive as it needs to be, that’s usually a problem that can be remedied with creative motivation.

But if they lack both an internal drive and a remarkable aptitude for the work, they’re beyond saving, at least for your job. They belong somewhere else.

Try Before You Buy

Before you purchase a new car, you always test drive it first to make sure it works properly, feels right for your driving style, and lives up to the advertised hype. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could do that with your uncertain Millennial marketing hires, too, removing a huge portion of the risk?

Good news: you can.

Contracting-to-hire serves as a great alternative to the traditional hiring model. It minimizes the risk associated with an upfront commitment to a full-time hire, while still giving you full-time access to a marketer’s expertise and work capacity.

This strategy is simple: instead of making an outright hire to fulfill a marketing need, you bring in a qualified individual on a contract basis, either independently or more safely through a marketing staffing agency. The contract for the role lasts for a “test” period with the mutual expectation that you’ll hire that individual full-time as long as they deliver a strong performance during that time.

Before you purchase a new car, you always test drive it first to make sure it works properly, feels right for your driving style, and lives up to the advertised hype. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could do that with your uncertain Millennial marketing hires, too?

If your contract-to-hire situation works out, great! You’ve got a quality new hire that’s already integrated with your company and marketing systems. And if the situation doesn’t go as you’d hoped, you can simply let the contract expire and try something else without the continued obligations of a full-time employee.


Humpty Dumpty Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

You May Also Like

Leave a Comment