By Jonathan Wilson

Millennials are lazy… Gen Xers are Debbie Downers… Baby Boomers are entitled workaholics…

We live in a world where people like to categorize everyone. It’s a normal human process, to find patterns and similarities. It’s our way of understanding the world around us. But when it comes to people, we slap on a label for a huge subset of birthdays, and expect everyone with one of those birthdays to possess the same characteristics. 

This is especially true for millennials. In fact, there’s so much negative press out there about millennials that it’s almost become a derogatory term. We’ve all heard it: Millennials don’t want to work hard…  Millennials just want to live off their parents forever… Millennials want to take the easy way out. 

These stereotypes are simply not true. The millennials that I work with each and every day are smart, creative and hardworking.

So what value do these generational stereotypes have? In the best cases, they reflect the collective experiences of a generation and can highlight the attitudes and beliefs that explain shifts in our culture over time. But unfortunately, some employers get so caught up in these generational stereotypes that they lose sight of what’s most important. They spend their time working from these preconceived notions about the type of staff they have rather than taking the opportunity to actually learn from their employees’ unique perspectives.

At Spectrum, rather than focusing on the years in which our employees were born, we value the diverse ways they approach challenges, how their ideas can ignite powerful strategy and the ways they see our organization playing a crucial role in the future of the health ecosystem. We do not assume to know how each generation acts, what each wants or how each will work. Rather, we believe each generation is composed of a plethora of individuals, all with distinct attributes and talents.                  

Spectrum is focused on building the agency of the future. For us, this means seeking the best people rather than the best generation and recognizing that our people need flexibility. For over a year, we have offered a Flexible Time Off (FTO) policy, allowing all employees the ability to craft their schedules and take paid time off as needed. In addition, we have invested in technology that allows our people to feel connected when working remotely – facilitating the 10% of our employees who work remotely full-time. Our collective philosophy of flexibility, accountability and personal responsibility allows for these opportunities while also empowering our people to do the best work for our clients. 

Recent articles suggest that these benefits only attract the millennial generation; however, we argue it simply attracts great talent. Great talent wants to work hard and play hard – they want to integrate their personal and professional lives as much as they can, and they want to own those decisions based on their individual value systems. We believe the idea of flexibility at work will become less of a benefit and more of a fundamental shift in the way we culturally think about the future of work.

This past week, at the Washington Business Journal’s 50 Fastest Growing Companies Awards, I was honored to accept the award for “Top Millennial Company” from American University’s Kogod School of Business on behalf of Spectrum. I am proud of this accomplishment because it does not solely symbolize the importance of the millennials in our workforce – it symbolizes that we are an agency for all current and future generations.

Millennials… Gen Xers… Baby Boomers… Individuals… All are welcome at Spectrum.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Jonathan Wilson, Spectrum President and CEO.