Millennials At Work: Separating The Myths From The Reality

By Phil Rainsberger

Stop me if you've heard this bunch of nonsense before:  Millennials are (choose all that apply) noncommittal to employers, self-absorbed, not willing to put in long hours, and are generally thin-skinned and expect to be pampered.

Beyond those baseless caricatures, what's the real story about millennials and their ability to help you grow your business?

According to the most recent Deloitte Millennial Survey, millennials want roles that offer purpose and the opportunity to change their personal and professional environment. 

How do they want to make that impact? According to The Future Workforce Study, the answer is through technology.

In the current environment, millennials appear more loyal to employers than in years prior and, in a period of great global uncertainty, stability is a key attraction.  Simply put, they would be inclined to turn down offers for freelance work or as consultants.  The study goes on to show that:

1. Millennials have a positive view of business and believe most businesses behave responsibly; but, millennials also believe the business community is not fully realizing its potential to alleviate society’s biggest challenges.

2. Businesses frequently provide opportunities for millennials to engage with “good causes,” helping young professionals to feel empowered while reinforcing positive associations between businesses’ activities and social impact.

3. Built upon a solid, two-way exchange of trust, flexible working arrangements continue to encourage loyalty and make a significant contribution to business performance.

4. Automation is rapidly becoming a feature of working environments. For some, it encourages creative thinking and provides opportunities to develop new skills. For others, automation poses a threat to jobs and is creating sterile workplaces.

For millennials, technology is one of the precious few elements that run through the cores of their personal and professional lives.  The prevailing attitude is that they expect the technologies they are provided at their workplaces is every bit as capable and flexible as the technologies they choose to use for themselves away from the job.

Is that a sign of unreasonable expectations?  Hardly.  The study shows that these “demands” result from the logical conclusion that they simply want the tools needed to do their jobs efficiently.

With this tech-dependent generation about to represent more than half of the global workforce, organizations are looking for cutting-edge tools to meet their employees’ needs. One of the most essential needs of this generation is personal and career development through learning programs.

In a recent poll by Gallup, 87 percent of millennials surveyed said professional development was an important part of their job. The desire to learn and grow is a key trait that separates millennials from past generations in the workforce.

Given that, learning management systems, certification programs and workplace training opportunities are not just attractive perks, but necessary for engaging and retaining these employees.

Learning management systems enrich training programs and help in securing much-desired certifications through video, audio training and quizzes. These strategies are crucial to retaining this age bracket of employees. Though they often carry a reputation as the “job hopping” generation, millennials have a record of remaining with companies that offer personal and professional development opportunities.

This generation has experienced the rapid evolution of communication through technology. Immediate response time of text messages, instant messengers and group chat applications are not just for personal matters, but are now an employee demand.

The workforce is transforming fast and so are the needs of today’s high-potential employees. In this era of quickly changing technology, it is important to understand how technology has become an integral part of millennials’ goals to impact and change the world. Don't hesitate. Give your millennial workers the technology they crave to innovate and change the world in ways the generations before never could have dreamed.

Are we placing too much emphasis on millennials and the need for companies to match their expectations?  We don't think so.  The numbers are simply too compelling and their importance to organizational competitiveness is too great to ignore.  But are they the only demographic worth pursuing?  Not by a long shot.  Look for more here soon about the importance of courting experienced professionals and company alumni.

The more things change  . . . .