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Are You Still Using “Millennial” Like It’s a Bad Word?

by Kathy Kurnyta on

The senior leaders in your organization will, at some point, be Millennials. While some might be inclined to think this trend applies primarily to the startup/tech industry (e.g., Pinterest, Instagram, Dropbox, Airbnb, Facebook, Snapchat, Lyft, etc.), this is not the case.

Given the growing number of Millennials not just entering but surpassing other generations in the workplace, it might only be a few years before the top tier of the organization sees its first Millennial teammates. For others, it has already happened.

But when we talk about Millennials, I find that people are surprisingly quick to share unfavorable impressions and experiences (sometimes without realizing they are speaking to a Millennial themselves), without much thought for the upside. The term “Millennial” seems to carry so many negative connotations these days, it made me realize that leaders, parents, colleagues of different generations, etc., are not always aware of the benefits that this group brings to the workforce.

While of course not everything on this list will be true of every Millennial, it’s still worthwhile to bring balance to our perspective. Here are some benefits to share about Millennials at your next staff meeting, selection committee, or summer party:

1. They are ridiculously savvy with technology.

This is the first time in history in which the younger generation is teaching the older generations in the workforce because of their expertise and savvy with technology. And this is likely a trend that will continue for a while; I experience it with my five-year old niece, who is more technically savvy on her iPhone and iPad than me.

The impact is that Millennials tend to be more innovative in their ideas and able to find different ways to streamline processes. They are certainly not content with, “well, this has always been done this way” because they can probably find a quicker, more efficient approach to getting things done.

2. They actually want to make an impact.

Millennials were raised to value driving impact in their jobs, and as such, they tend to take their time when looking for job opportunities. It is important for them to find meaning in their positions and once they find it, they are more likely to devote the time, initiative, and energy into the work they produce. Meaning for them is also not solely based on financial means, but on their personal motivations, values and drivers.

3. They value strong relationships.

Millennials like to make friendships at work. They see work as a large part of their social life. As a result, they tend to dedicate time to relationship-building and value authentic and genuine interactions with others. They are also able to accomplish more in group settings given their focus on frequent communication, feedback, and establishing trust. Where previous generations followed the notion that “no feedback is good feedback,” Millennials think quite the opposite. They appreciate frequent feedback on their performance so they can enhance their skills and make themselves more marketable.

4. They’re not only driven by money.

Millennials are intrinsically motivated and they want to make an impact. Where previous generations were willing to put in long hours in exchange for more money, Millennials are not motivated in the same way. As such, in some ways they can be financially cheaper as employees. At the same time, they are catalyzed by flexible work schedules, the ability to learn, and by being successful in their work.

5. They are very comfortable with social platforms.

The ability to advertise and communicate through various social media outlets has also drastically increased in the workplace over the last several years. In fact, many leaders now describe to me the importance of using social platforms to attract, recruit, and hire good talent into their organization. Millennials can be a great source of utilizing these methods to take full advantage for current organizational needs, as well as to position the organization for success in the future.

 

What other benefits have you seen with Millennials in your workplace? How has this age group impacted your organizational culture, hiring practices, and retention methods?

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