The Millenial Employee


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An overview of the generational personality of the Millenials, also known as Generation Y. Although there is danger in stereotypes, this presentation summarizes some of the tendencies of this group who are now playing a significant role in the U.S. workforce. Something for managers and supervisors to think more about.

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  • Mention that Howe and Strauss did their research on American Students
  • Parental supervision: “They’re the ‘Babies on Board’ of the early Reagan years, the ‘Have You Hugged Your Child Today’ sixth graders of the early Clinton years, and the teens of Columbine,” say Neil Howe and William Strauss in Millennials Rising
  • Focus on children and family. In the decades right before and after the turn of the Millennium, Americans moved the spotlight back onto kids and their families. That spotlight has swung like a pendulum over the last sixty years. During the post-WWII era, children were all the rage. It was a popular time to be having kids and to be a kid. Then, when the Gen-Xers were growing up, the spotlight had shifted. Latchkey kids, children of divorce, and kids with two working parents found themselves growing up on their own, in the shadow of the Baby Boom. * The early 90s saw the spotlight swinging back. Las Vegas and Club Med went family . Parents and grandparents took the kids along on trips across the country and to destinations all over the globe. Eating out—once an adult thing —became a family matter. Ninety percent of fathers attended the birth of their children. Scheduled, structured lives. The Millennials were the busiest generation of children we’ve ever seen in the U.S, growing up facing time pressures traditionally reserved for adults. Parents and teachers micromanaged their schedules, planning things out for them, leaving very little unstructured free time. They were signed up for soccer camp, karate club, and ballet lessons—and their parents were called into service, shuttling them from one activity to the next. Multiculturalism. Kids grew up in the 90s and 00s with more daily interaction with other ethnicities and cultures than ever before. The most recent data from UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute shows that interracial interaction among college freshmen has reached a record high.  Terrorism. During their most formative years, Millennials witnessed the Oklahoma City bombing of the federal building and the Columbine High School shootings. And their catalyzing generational event—the one that binds them as a generation—is, of course, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.  Heroism. Emerging out of those acts of violence, Millennials watched the re-emergence of the American hero. Policemen, firemen, firefighters, and mayors were pictured on the front page of the newspaper, featured on TV specials, and portrayed in art and memorabilia (FDNY baseball caps). In the 10 months following 9/11, the word hero was heard more than it had been in the entire 10 years before.  Patriotism. During the post-Vietnam and Watergate era, patriotism was at an all-time low. Displaying the American flag, always and forever the right thing to do for members of the WWII Generation, had become less and less common—particularly among disillusioned Boomers and skeptical Xers. September 11 changed all that. Stores that carried flags sold out within 24 hours, ordered more and sold out again. Every other home and car seemed to fly the old red-white-and-blue. Businesspeople sported the stars and stripes on their lapels, and kids wore T-shirts with flags on the front, on the back, and on the shoulder. It seemed that national pride had been tested, and the overwhelming verdict was that patriotism was alive and well. Parent advocacy—”Helicopter Parents” . The Millennials were raised, by and large, by active, involved parents who often interceded on their behalf. Parents challenged poor grades, negotiated with the soccer coach, visited college campuses with their charges, and even went along to Army recruiting centers. Then, too, Millennials actually like their parents. In the Generation 2001 survey, conducted by Lou Harris on behalf of Northwest Mutual Life Insurance, Mom and Dad were most often named when young people were asked whom they admired. Globalism. With e-mail pen pals in Singapore and Senegal, Millennials grew up seeing things as global, connected, and open for business 24/7.
  • Optimistic & Hopeful: They’re optimists, not pessimists. Surveys show that—compared to Xer teens a decade ago—today’s teens are more upbeat about the world in which they’re growing up. Nine in ten describe themselves as "happy," "confident," and "positive." A rapidly decreasing share worry about violence, sex, or drugs—and a rapidly increasing share say that growing up is easier for them than it was for their parents. Teen suicide rates are now falling for the first time in decades. Hopeful. They believe in the future and their role in it. They expect a workplace that is challenging, collaborative, creative, fun, and financially rewarding.  Cooperative Team Players: Group learning activities were emphasized during their school experiences. From school uniforms to team learning to community service, they are gravitating toward group activity. According to a recent Roper survey, more teenagers blamed "selfishness" than anything else when asked, "What is the major cause of problems in this country?" Unlike Gen Xers, they believe in their own collective power. By a huge ten-to-one majority, they believe it’s their generation—and not their parents’—that will do the most to help the environment over the next twenty-five years. Accept Authority and are Rule Followers: They accept authority. Most teens say they identify with their parents’ values, and over nine in ten say they "trust" and "feel close to" their parents. The proportion who report conflict with their parents is declining. Half say they trust government to do what’s right all or most of the time—twice the share of older people. Half believe that lack of parental discipline is a major social problem, and large majorities favor tougher rules against misbehavior in the classroom and society at large. They’re rule followers. Today’s kids are disproving the experts who once predicted a tidal wave of juvenile crime during the late 1990s. Over the last five years, the rates of homicide, violent crime, abortion, and pregnancy among teens have all plummeted at the fastest rates ever recorded. A teen is now less likely to be a victim of a serious violent crime than at any time since Lyndon Johnson was president. Even including the Columbine massacre, there were only half as many violent deaths at schools nationwide in 1998-99 (twenty-five) as there were in the early 1990s (over fifty per year). Tolerant of Diversity. They were taught to be inclusive and tolerant of other races, religions, and sexual orientations.  Connected 24/7. They learned to be interdependent—on family, friends, and teachers. More Millennials say they can live without the television than the computer. Many prefer chatting on line to talking on the phone. Text messaging has grown rapidly. Share their lives on the world stage: Millennials like to share music, media and movies with others around the world, leading to shared experience. They place a great deal of importance on peer-to-peer experiences. Examples: file sharing on Napster, YouTube. Social Networking on MySpace, Facebook.
  • Intelligent and Value Education: During the 1990s, aptitude test scores have risen within every racial and ethnic group, especially in elementary schools. Eight out of ten teenagers say it’s "cool to be smart," while a record share of teenagers are taking AP tests, say they "look forward to school," and plan to attend college. The Most “Watched over” Generation: They’re the most watched-over generation in memory. From 1981 to 1997, according to researchers at the University of Michigan, "free" or "unsupervised" time in the typical preteen’s day shrank by 37 percent. Millennials have been the focus of the most sweeping youth safety movement in American history. (80’s child abuse frenzy, kid safety rules and devices, post-Columbine) Goal- and achievement-oriented. They have been pushed to study hard, avoid risks and take advantage of collective opportunities adults are offering. They’ve seen accountability and higher school standards as part of the political agenda. They’ve had Helicopter Parents “ride herd” on them. Confident & Ready: Raised by parents believing in the importance of self-esteem, they characteristically consider themselves ready to overcome challenges and leap tall buildings. Millenials may carry an attitude of “I’m ready for it and I deserve it now”. They may see the world as a “Web” of opportunity, rather than a hierarchy to be climbed. Managers who believe in “paying your dues” and coworkers who don’t think opinions are worth listening to unless they come from someone with a prerequisite number of years on the resume find this can-do attitude unsettling. Eager for Recognition. (Relates back to the “world stage”/social networking point.) We’re developing a national obsession that sees ordinary citizens make their mark, achieve celebrity and rise to prominence. Witness the phenomena of American Idol and the copycat shows. FaceBook, MySpace and YouTube also support this drive to be noticed. Civic-minded. At the same time, they were taught to think in terms of the greater good. They have a high rate of volunteerism. They expect companies to contribute to their communities—and to operate in ways that create a sustainable environment.
  • Feedback & Structure. They want to know exactly what is expected of them – They are used to structure and knowing what the rules are; They want to live up to the standards, but need to know what they are. The challenge is to give them enough structure to meet their needs and enough motivation to move outside the structure. High but Fair Standards. Similarly, they expect the standards to be high, but fair – they will measure their efforts and rewards against that of their co-workers and are more likely to complain about “unfair” practices. They expect the rules to be applied across the board in an even-handed manner and don’t understand the more qualitative aspects grading work. They have not been taught that “life is not fair”. Teaming Up . They are used to team projects/group grades – love group work w/technology. They enjoy collaborative work. They don’t like to be singled out, so another challenge is to find incentives for individual efforts that complement group work. Meaning in Work. Believe that “Life’s too short to waste on a job that only pays the bills” Millenials respond to being part of a larger social purpose. Service oriented careers are rising in interest. They want to solve world issues and make life better. They want to work for people and companies they feel good about working for.
  • You be the leader. This generation has grown up with structure and supervision, with parents who were role models. Millennials are looking for leaders with honesty and integrity. It’s not that they don’t want to be leaders themselves, they’d just like some great role models first. Show Respect. “Treat our ideas respectfully,” they ask, “even though we haven’t been around a long time.” Challenge them. Millennials want learning opportunities. They want to be assigned to projects they can learn from. A recent Randstad employee survey found that “trying new things” was the most popular item. They’re looking for growth, development, a career path.  Let them work with friends. Millennials say they want to work with people they click with. They like being friends with coworkers. Employers who provide for the social aspects of work will find those efforts well rewarded by this newest cohort. Some companies are even interviewing and hiring groups of friends. Be flexible. The busiest generation ever isn’t going to give up its activities just because of jobs. A rigid schedule is a sure-fire way to lose your Millennial employees. Let’s have fun. A little humor, a bit of silliness, even a little irreverence will make your work environment more attractive.
  • The Millenial Employee

    1. 1. The Millennial Employee A presentation for the Burlington Business Association Peter Straube Champlain College Division of Business Adapted from a presentation by Beth Moriarty of Bridgewater State College
    2. 2. <ul><li>Much of this material is based on a theory of generational personalities, developed by William Strauss and Neil Howe and described in Generations and Millenials Rising . </li></ul><ul><li>Basic concept: Our individual worldviews are shaped by our life experiences; Generations tend to grow up with a set of shared experiences, which produces a common worldview or “group personality”. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Disclaimers: <ul><li>“ Millennials” is a term that makes generalizations about a group of people who share some common characteristics. </li></ul><ul><li>The Millenials “personality” is only a stereotype. Individual experiences and perceptions will vary from person to person. </li></ul>
    4. 4. Generations in the Workforce: <ul><li>Traditionals </li></ul><ul><li>Baby Boomers </li></ul><ul><li>Generation X </li></ul><ul><li>Millennials </li></ul>
    5. 5. Snapshot: Generational Personalities <ul><li>TRADITIONALISTS: value security, loyalty, seniority. Patriotic. Accept military-style leadership. </li></ul><ul><li>BABY BOOMERS: question authority, change things for the better, competitive, value recognition </li></ul>
    6. 6. Snapshot, part 2: <ul><li>GEN X: the “Me” generation; skeptical of authority and institutions; value freedom and autonomy: “I have to take care of myself” </li></ul><ul><li>MILLENIALS: work that has meaning; collaborate to make a difference </li></ul>
    7. 7. Who are the Millennials? <ul><li>Americans born 1982 – 2000 </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes referred to as Generation Y, Nexters, the Boomerang Generation or the Dot-Com Generation </li></ul><ul><li>They have never known a world without cell phones, computers, CD’s or MTV </li></ul><ul><li>As a group, they are highly educated, creative & techno-savvy </li></ul><ul><li>Tend to have had lots of parental supervision & involvement </li></ul>
    8. 8. Trends that Have Shaped the Generation <ul><li>Focus on children & family </li></ul><ul><li>Scheduled, structured lives </li></ul><ul><li>Multiculturalism </li></ul><ul><li>Terrorism </li></ul><ul><li>Heroism and Patriotism </li></ul><ul><li>Parent Advocacy </li></ul>
    9. 9. Characteristics of Millennials <ul><li>Optimistic & Hopeful </li></ul><ul><li>Cooperative Team Players </li></ul><ul><li>Accept Authority and follow the rules </li></ul><ul><li>Tolerant of Diversity </li></ul><ul><li>Connected 24/7; techno-savvy </li></ul><ul><li>Share their lives on the world stage </li></ul>
    10. 10. Characteristics of Millennials (continued…) <ul><li>Intelligent and Value Education </li></ul><ul><li>Goal and Achievement-Oriented </li></ul><ul><li>Confident & “Ready” </li></ul><ul><li>Eager for Recognition </li></ul><ul><li>Civic Minded </li></ul>
    11. 11. Implications for the workplace <ul><li>Need Feedback and Structure </li></ul><ul><li>Expect high standards, but also “fairness” </li></ul><ul><li>Team/group ethic—like to collaborate </li></ul><ul><li>Search for meaning in work: may seek employers they perceive as being “the good guys” </li></ul>
    12. 12. Working with Millennials <ul><li>Be a role model </li></ul><ul><li>Set clear expectations </li></ul><ul><li>Show them respect </li></ul><ul><li>Challenge them; help them learn </li></ul><ul><li>Be flexible </li></ul><ul><li>Develop social/work relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Have some fun at work! </li></ul>
    13. 13. <ul><li>Contact Info at Champlain College: </li></ul><ul><li>e -Mail: [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Phone: 865-6438 </li></ul>
    14. 14. Comments, Questions, Thoughts?