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                                                    Photo: By Tom Hussey

Millennials: ENEMIES? FRIENOMIES OR JUST LIKE ME?

I don’t think I have seen so much news coverage, training and discussion on a generation in my lifetime. It is somewhat amazing. Just Google “Millennial”. There are over 700,000 results. Check out Amazon. Over 3600 books are available
so we can all study up on these very unique humans that are taking over the workplace. New research studies reference them. I am the mother of three of these “alien” beings. They are very different from each other however their fundamental
values are very similar and not that much different from my own.

There is quite a debate about this generation, their expectations, behaviors, etc and the impact on the workplace. There is significant investment to help the “non-millennial” adjust to the invasion of millennial in the workplace. It is based on the notion that they are completely different than any other generation that came before them. In most organizations, we have
developed a curriculum to help educate the rest of the team on how to act and embrace the millennial.  This includes training
classes, mentoring and reverse mentoring programs, books, and discussion groups etc.  This investment is to ensure that
we can successfully work together delivering the expected business outcomes. Is this effort really necessary? Are they really that different?

In fact Workforce 2020, an independent, global study by Oxford Economics with support from SAP SE (NYSE: SAP), surveyed over 5400 participants from over 27 countries unequivally concluded that this is a myth.  We are actually more alike when it comes to life and Workplace priorities that most people recognize. Let me start with the typical stereotype of a millennial. For some reason, we think that the millennial generation cares more about making a difference, work-life balance and pursuing meaningful work.   I don’t know about you but these are very important to me as well. In fact, if you read any research on women, these concerns tend to be of the utmost importance in making career decisions. They  are  not unique to those born after 1977.

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When looking at the top 8 expectations of work, there was also very little difference. We all care about compensation, rewards, training, time off, etc. I do and have many decades on the millennial generation. So are we really that different? This study showed that there was little to no variance between Millennials and Non-Millennials in regards to job satisfaction. Is this consistent with what’s most important to you?

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   For fun, I recently took a survey, “How Millennial Are You?” by Pew Research to determine my  millenialness”.   http://www.pewresearch.org/quiz/how-millennial-are-you/.   I was more millennial than a typical millennial. I assure you I was born after 1977. So, maybe there is some truth in that being a “Millenial” is a state of mind versus a generation.  Based on my non-scientific observation, I would say that Millennial’s are more experienced and worldly, more technologically savvy and unafraid to speak their mind. These are attributes that I look for in potential hires regardless of age.

The reality is that “Millenials” will be 75% of the workplace by 2025. In order to service our customers, grow the business and innovate, we need an inclusive workforce. So I would suggest we need to understand the individual not the generation.

What do you think? If you want to hear more on this topic, please register for the upcoming 11/12 Webinar The Millennial
Misunderstanding Webinar with Oxford Economics Ed Cone, HR SAP Executive David Swanson, and Deloitte Deborah Cole.
Download the complete Oxford Economics’ Workforce 2020 research today.

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  1. Christopher Solomon

    I find the whole notion of “millennials” as just a veiled excuse to rationalize a new form of ageism. By saying they are “different” or have different expectations or should be treated differently and that “older” people need to adjust to the “millennials” is just absurd to me. Forget the longer list of why this is just wrong…just the idea that millenials are different and should be treated as such does nothing but further promote and solidify this misguided sense of entitlement, pandering and handling with “kid glvoves”.

    At the end of the day, this work force is no different than any that came before….we all want to succeed, be paid fairly and have room for growth if we so desire to do so. What special training or classes are needed to understand that? Oh yeh!…except there is good money to be made by people who can provide such “transitioning expertise” if they can get the larger community to by into this nonsense.

    Everything old is new again, as they say. I can remember when the same discussions were made about the “Gen X/ Slacker Generation” crowd when we joined the workforce. I think we all turned out just fine. 😛

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