1982 witnessed the birth of the first batch of Millennials. Alongside its human companions, the Internet was born that very next year. The Internet matured alongside the Millennials and the effect their constant sibling-like association has had, and will have, on the workplace as Millennials enter the business world is the focus of this article.
The Millennial Generation or Generation Y (individuals born between 1982 and 2004) has been scrutinized perhaps more thoroughly than any other generation. It has accumulated many names throughout the past 34 years, including the “Look at Me” generation, the “Net Generation,” and “Generation Whine.” These nicknames can be attributed mainly to characteristics developed through the treatment they received from their parents throughout their youth and the existence of advanced technology in their day-to-day lives.
Parental pressure is a significant factor in the demeanor of this new wave of workers, parents placing high value on their children from a young age. They also pressure their children to take upper-level classes in high school, and apply to prestigious colleges. These tendencies are shown to intensify as Millennials pursue their first job. Due to the constant presence of the regular dictating force of their parents in their lives, it is not surprising that Millennials tend to desire a relationship with their first boss or supervisor, intending, no doubt, to replace their parents. This unique desire to form strong professional relationships is one of the benefits of growing up a Millennial, as it is expected to cause more sturdy organizations as a whole.
A flaw in the rearing of Millennials is the increasing prevalence of high self-esteem due to parents placing an exceptionally high value in their children’s future. Millennials’ self-esteem brews a desire for leadership roles. Though at first, this may seem like a positive characteristic, Millennials, unlike previous generations, are interested in leadership roles for more selfish reasons. Millennials are shown to desire to become leaders because of that role’s merits on a resume, and because of its favorable implications in society; therefore, they are less likely to be interested in advancing the lives of their charges. These negative driving forces may be shown to cause strife and ineffectiveness in the workplace.
Millennials are often begrudged due to their almost constant contact with social media and the Internet; however, researchers Myers and Sadaghiani take a new perspective. They view this unique characteristic as being a practical new skill in the workplace. After a quick look into the possible adverse outcome of exposure to high levels of technology, we will discuss its benefits.
Millennials’ ability to collect an easy answer instantaneously causes a lack of motivation for them to delve deeper into the question posed. Therefore, they miss nuanced explanations of phenomena and alternative perspectives that may cause them to consider explanations of their own. This tendency is the fatal flaw in the Millennial Generation, bred at a young age to depend on Spark Notes, Cliff Notes, and Wikipedia. Additional research, commenced by Hershatter and Epstein, maintains that “If Millennials are going to become valued knowledge workers; they must learn not only what information to gather, but also how to verify and understand it in context. In order to analyze, synthesize, and represent that information in a way that is relevant to the problem at hand, they will need to know more than how to scan; they need to learn to read deeply and between the lines.”†
The shortcoming of instant information can easily be remedied if Millennials are open to the idea of “getting out what you put in” and garnering a higher respect for the resources available to them.
Millennials’ attitude toward teamwork is a positive characteristic, caused in the main by computer-mediated communication, and communication and information technology. Because geographical separation has less effect, hierarchies within businesses are seen to diminish, therefore increasing group participation. Additionally, the aptitude for creating online content displayed by Millennials is an attribute admired by most hiring organizations. Myers and Sadaghiani found that 28% of teens age 12–17 are likely to create a blog, as well as 20% of 18–32 year-olds. They assure the readers that employers are eager to manipulate this ability, almost unique to the Millennial Generation, to their benefit.
It is possible that Millennials may find that their computer-mediated form of communication may not be as productive as traditional face-to-face interaction, leaving them disabled. Millennials must make it a point, therefore, not only to practice modern forms of communication, but lend themselves to the nuances of personal interaction, as well.
Blessings and curses accompany each generation; the Millennial Generation has been blessed with technology beyond the dreams of previous generations and has been cursed due to the previously unexplored implications of this phenomenon, in addition to being substantially affected by particular parental rearing techniques. As millennials, we must hone the abilities that come with being raised in our generation, so we can be contributing members of the world we have been born into. We must also, however, be aware of our shortcomings and take steps to incorporate the expertise of previous generations into our way of life.
† Hershatter, Andrea, and Molly Epstein. “Millennials and the World of Work: An Organization and Management Perspective.” Journal of Business and Psychology, vol. 25, no. 2, 2010, pp. 211–223.
Myers, Karen K., and Kamyab Sadaghiani. “Millennials in the Workplace: A Communication Perspective on Millennials’ Organizational Relationships and Performance.” Journal of Business and Psychology, vol. 25, no. 2, 2010, pp. 225–238.
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