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Millennials –The Misunderstood Generation

All across the country I hear a call of desperation from leaders “millennials are a different breed, how do we lead them?” They aren’t like the Baby-boomers or the Gen-Xers, they require employers to adapt and evolve their leadership styles as well as organizational culture. And with the looming shortage in talent, it will be imperative for employers to understand how to communicate, manage, develop, and engage with millennials.

According to The 2020 Workplace by Meister and Willeyard, Millennials or Gen-Yers, will make up more than 50 percent of the workforce by 2020. This generation is the future and it is up to corporate America to create and implement workforce strategies, which will drive high engagement and productivity with Millennials while not disengaging the rest of your workforce.

So what a makes these young workers unique?  These workers were born between 1977 and 1997 and basically grew up with the Internet. Thus they, more than any other generation in the workforce, embrace social networks, actively contribute to social media, and are hyper connected. In addition, they grew up with “helicopter parents” who continue to be very involved with their adult children’s lives. Schools put an emphasis on volunteer work and “winning” for all. All of these factors have influenced the Millennials in the workplace.

According to Advocates for Youth there are a couple of things that are unique about this generation:

▪    54% of Millennials have some college education as opposed to the 36% of baby boomers at their age

▪    75% have created a social networking profile

▪    92% of all Millennials use the internet on occasion

▪    And 59% of Millennials say that the internet is their primary source for news

The ever-changing technology has greatly improved the workplace, but it is not free of faults. According to Susan Heathfield, a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), Millennials are dependent on feedback, even daily. She says, “Millennials are connected all over the world by email, instant messages, text messages, and the Internet”. It is this constant connection that has created the idea of constant communication.

So what do Millennials value that impacts their decision to join a company and remain with a company?

Heathfield believes that leadership and structure is a must. Millennials seek work at all times and anticipate challenges presented to them. It is essential that as a leader you provide a solid foundation for the future generation.

It is important to make sure that communication, development, and engagement with millennial employees is constant. Do not try to lump them together and expect to get results. Instead of trying to build up certain weaknesses, capitalize on their strengths. Adaption is key and if you can utilize the individual strengths that this new generation provides you will be able to take your company to new heights.

We spoke in a previous article titled “Don’t let your organization become a rotating door” about the decrease in skilled professionals in the workplace. Well in the next ten to fifteen years, Millennials will be the skilled professionals and it is important that you keep your employee retention high.

How are you as a leader adapting to the values and needs of the Millennial Generation?

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  1. Jeremiah Griffith

    January 16, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    There has been a trend of corporations “dialing down” the needs of the worker for at least as long as I have been in the work force (22 years). This trend isn’t slowing down. It is still an employer’s market (reference the current unemployment rate.) in most cases. I really don’t see employers adapting to this generation. Not when they have people that are willing to adapt to the employer lining up.

  2. Donny Wallace

    January 16, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Hey any group that can play with their Smart Phones throughout a meeting with the boss, wear sandals to work and work on what they want to on the job is dailing down the boss. Gen. X didn’t figure out how to get away with any of this and the Xers I know work way longer hours. So they must be doing something right. Twitter on dude! May you have 1,000,000 friends…


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