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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Generation Y - Millennials in the Workplace

By Pat Meehan
April 7, 2010

Dubbed Generation Y, Millennials are the new adult generation born after 1982. The term “Millennials” is so new that the word has just recently made its way into Microsoft’s spell check dictionary. Millennials, however, are very in tune with Microsoft and all other forms of high technology. In their world of high technology and higher education, Millennials are becoming quite a question mark for the employers they work for and the employers who are considering them for hire.

The word Millennials has been assigned to this generation by employers. This young new generation grew up in an era of being rewarded just for being present. They started playing sports at the age of 5 in an environment where the score was not kept and everybody wins. At the end of the season participation trophies were given just for wearing the uniform and not for achieving excellence. They grew up on Nintindo, followed by a large variety of high tech video games. Their fist car was not one they saved up for, but in most cases, an expensive car that was given to them by their parents. Facebook, MySpace, texting, IM and other instant communication technologies may explain Millennials' reputation for being peer oriented and for seeking instant gratification.

In a survey of executive recruiters, Millennials are becoming a frustrating group of people to work with. The common frustrations are as follows; Millennials respond to job ads by email, however they don’t answer their cell phones or emails when contacted back by recruiters. If and when they are reached, their level of interest is minimal in many cases. They don’t portray warmth and energy in a conversation and they lack basic people skills. It has been discovered by some recruiters that Millennials will respond quickly if sent a text message. Recruiters say Millennials go on job interviews and do not send thank you notes or follow-up letters. When presented with written job offers they often respond very late or not at all. They simply lack etiquette when presenting themselves.

These frustrations have spilled over to employers who say that Millennials are not company oriented employees. They expect the company to be oriented only to them. As a result of participation trophies, having had cars given to them and their experience of constant praise in childhood, Millennials struggle with poor employee performance evaluations. It is not unusually for the parent of an adult Millennial to call a human resource manager and complain about their child’s performance evaluation, just as parents of other generations would complain to the school teacher. Companies are finding they have to provide fun in the workplace to keep Millennials happy. Whether it be food, costume day, or flexible hours day, Millennials continue to expect more and more from their employers and struggle with conformance to a corporate structure.

Older workers who are retiring are being recruited back as contract employees by their former employers because of the knowledge and work ethic that employers are starting to miss. New hires in their mid to late 50’s are rapidly on the rise as life expectancy increases and people are choosing to work longer. Companies want people with maturity, people skills, and a sense of responsibility, as well as loyalty to the company.

Millennials are a new wave generation of the post baby boom called the “baby bust.” This generation is a product of a 7-10 year slowdown in which the numbers of children born after 1980 were at the lowest in U. S. history. This phenomenon is correcting itself as the volume of children born after 1990 are in much greater numbers. This may cause future problems for the instant gratification seeking Millennials as more employees become available behind them and as competition becomes more of a factor to them. As time unfolds it will be interesting to observe the blending of generations in the world of employment.

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