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Busting millennials-in-the-workplace myths

Sharon Florentine | Feb. 6, 2015
By 2020, nearly half of the U.S. workforce will be comprised of millennials. Instead of buying into the negative hype, forward-thinking organisations should start working to better understand this generation and leverage their strengths or risk being left behind.

"As a generation, they have a high level of confidence and a very strong desire to contribute, right away, on the job. They don't like the notion that to get ahead, to be a leader, a worker must first 'pay their dues;' they are well aware that they have these incredible technology and critical thinking skill sets from day one, and they want to put those to work," says Pollak.

Millennials Crave Continuing Education, Training and Growth
Millennials also are honest about their shortcomings, says Pollak. As much as they have confidence in their technology and leadership skills overall, they know they need training, coaching and mentoring to be able to apply those skills to the workplace, according to Pollak.

"They really have a lot to share, but it has to be give-and-take. Millennials are more than willing to put their skills to work for their workplaces, but they really crave mentoring, coaching and continuing education and training to help them better develop their communication skills, workplace etiquette and other 'soft' skills," Pollak says.

If an organization is willing to provide these types of continuing education and training resources, the reward will be an incredibly loyal, productive and engaged employee, according to The Hartford Research.

Millennials Want to Collaborate
Despite their reputation as loners whose main concern is their smartphone, millennials are huge proponents of collaboration, says Pollak. While they may not love to work in groups, they excel at collaborating with peers to achieve a common goal.

"Millennials grew up with collaborative technology: Skype, Google Docs, Wikis. They don't like working in groups, but they do like contributing to a shared project or goal and they gain great satisfaction from seeing how their individual contributions affected the sum of a project," Pollak says.

With that comes incredible frustration when this generation is prevented from communicating and collaboration because of technology shortcomings, she adds. Companies must make collaboration easy, secure and easy to use or risk alienating these younger workers.

"Millennials much prefer to use social media and social applications instead of email to communicate," says Pollak. The idea of using internal social media and chat or collaboration apps like Yammer is much more appealing to this generation, and that can take some getting used to, says Francis Li, vice president of IT at communications and collaboration solutions firm SoftChoice.

Millennials also want to have a clear voice in deciding what technology they will use, and if it's not up to snuff -- forget it, according to Li. That's why businesses must invest more time up front with millennials to make sure any technology decisions are geared to the way they work.


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