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Millennials in the Workplace
ILLUSTRATION: MARK FISHER
Q.
Several marketing associates on my team are Millennials, and many members of my staff (myself included) don't really understand their mindset. What are some key things we need to grasp about Millennials to ensure that we all mesh as marketers?

A.
Millennial's aren't just your company's customers; they're your co-workers, employees, and sometimes your bosses, too. To help bridge that generational gap, here are some expert findings we hope will bust some myths about Generation Y.

➤ Millennials rarely job hop. Stereotyped as fickle employees who flit from job to job, Millennials are actually staying with employers longer than Generation X workers. Probably as a result of the Great Recession and aggravated by their debt burdens ($1.2 trillion in student-loan debt alone), Millennials are more likely than members of Generation X to stick with an employer for three to six years.

➤ They work 24/7, not 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. According to Cisco Systems Inc.'s Connected World Technology Report, Millennials might be described as an "all work, all the time" generation. About one quarter of Generation Y professionals say their employer allows them to work from home – at least to some degree. That malleability may come with a price, as more than half consider themselves available for work 24/7 by phone and email. Additionally, more than four out of every 10 Millennials view themselves as a so-called "supertasker," which is defined as one who can effectively accomplish more than two things at once. And since half of Millennials believe supertasking can result in heightened productivity, 56 percent of Generation Y believe they boast greater efficiency than their older Generation X office mates.

➤ Casual is the status quo. Where Generation Y diverts from its predecessors, however, is blind allegiance to tradition. When it comes to dress codes, casual is the new black, as stiff and formal office attire went out of style with "Mad Men." Nearly 80 percent of Millennials believe jeans should at least occasionally be allowed in the workplace.

➤ Social media is sacred. Loyal and hardworking they may be, but when it comes to their employers policing social media, Millennials think rules are made to be broken, as 56 percent won't work for a company that restricts social-media access. Even if they are employed by a business that has a more up-to-date view on social media, cultural rifts can still exist. For example, nearly 40 percent of Generation Y believes blogging about workplace issues is acceptable, while just 28 percent of baby boomers do. Not surprisingly, it follows then that about 70 percent of Millennials don't always comply with their company's social-media policies.

➤ Instant recognition trumps standard performance reviews. Formal performance reviews are also considered as much a relic of the past as telephone books and landline phones. A study by Achievers Corp. and Experience Inc. found a whopping 80 percent of Generation Y respondents said they prefer on-the-spot recognition/critiques over formal reviews that might only occur at traditional intervals of six months or more. Indeed, 35 percent said they desired short bursts of feedback several times a day – think tweet-long emails or verbal comments running just a sentence or two.

➤ Mentors are mandatory. Another way Millennials flout the past is their attitude toward mentoring. A study from UrbanBound Inc. found that 75 percent of Millennials want a workplace sensei to guide them through the corporate jungle. Of those Millennial workers not receiving regular mentoring, 35 percent plan to search for another job within the next year. Additionally, Millennials need a chance to grow their skills and expand their knowledge. According to research from Millennial Branding, more than twice as many Millennials as baby boomers – 33 percent to 15 percent – view training and development opportunities as vital when they consider working for a company.

As you can see, there are some stark differences between Millennials and the generations that came before them. But recognizing the six aforementioned truisms can help foster understanding, and hopefully some mutual respect, between all members of your intergenerational team.


— EXHIBITOR Staff
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