Who are millennials?
By now, you most likely have heard of the millennial generation or, perhaps you ARE a millennial. Either way, this is a generation that continues to be a huge influence on the way we work in the 21st century.
Dubbed “millennials” by authors William Strauss and Neil Howe, this generation follows Generation X and generally includes people born between 1982-2000. While the date parameter that defines the generation is broad, there are common characteristics that the members share.
Millennials are broadly marked by their familiarity with technology, media, and more. Why is this noteworthy? Millennial workers, ages 18-36, compose the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, according a Pew Research Center survey. In fact, by 2025, they’ll make up as much as 75% of the global workforce. With this in mind, it’s important to adapt work processes to help them be the best employees they can.
What do millennials want from a job?
Flexibility is key. Not everyone works best from 9-5. The idea of flexible schedules may alarm some people who are used to the traditional work schedule, but given how connected millennials are to technology, they’re able to work whenever their minds are most active. As a matter of fact, a Bentley University study on millennials in the workforce revealed that 89% of millennials regularly check work email after work hours. The study has also shown that 77% of millennials said flexible work hours would make them more productive at work.
Flexibility doesn’t just mean hours either. Millennials work differently than the previous generations, but work-spaces have been slow to adapt to these differences. They expect areas ripe for collaboration in order to make their ideas into reality. In general millennials are well-suited to an open environment that facilitates communication and teamwork.
How do millennials use technology in the workplace?
Born into an age of ever-emerging technology, millennials have a unique comfort with new gadgets and gizmos. To illustrate, Nielsen reports that almost 83% say they sleep with their smartphones.
Their affinity to social media shouldn’t be underestimated as well, 51% of the older millennials (age 25-34) said they take time out of their day to use social networking at the office. Younger millennials, aged 18 to 24, are nearly twice (40%) as likely to use social media in the bathroom compared to the average of 21%. Regardless of where they’re using social media, old and young millennials both are checking in socially about 20-21 hours each month.
Besides gizmos, gadgets, and social media, millennials are also changing the stage for workplace communication. Statistically speaking, millennials are averse to phone calls. In fact, it’s even affecting society as European telecom O2 has found that the ‘telephone’ app found on smartphones is only the fifth-most-used app among the general public.
Why is this happening? There are several reasons. Most millennials were gradually introduced to ‘instant’ types of messaging, including IMs, texting, and emails. These tech communication tools gave the ability to think over words and offered gave a sense of comfort as replying was done at the recipient’s leisure. It’s important to note that while the modes of communication are changing, the fundamentals of communication -- listening and conciseness -- are still as important.
Why do millennials crave structure at work?
While flexibility is valued, millennials also appreciate structure. Knowing the organizational role is critical, so as a manager it’s important to explain objectives or goals to your millennial team members . A recent Gallup study has shown that 44% of millennials who have regular meetings with their superiors are more likely to be be engaged.
Transparency is vital. Millennials feel better when they know what’s happening around them. When it comes to a workplace communication, face-to-face is the method of choice. According to Bentley University, “51% of millennials say they prefer to communicate to colleagues by talking in person.” Email (19%) and text (14%) are next in line as the preferred means of communication.
What does all this mean?
As a modern business, it’s imperative to cater to the changing times. As projections point to millennials making up the majority of the nation’s workforce by 2025, it’s crucial to begin implementing ways to engage and retain them.
If you currently employ millennials, focus on adapting to their needs to create an environment where they can do their best work. This includes being flexible and tech-friendly, with clearly defined job goals and transparent communication . There’s not a perfect science to it, so listen to your employees and refine as you go.
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