This week I was out at the AMA Atlanta Signature Luncheon, Millennials in the Workplace, a panel discussion by IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBM IBV). Speaking at this event was IBM Global Research Leader Carolyn Baird, Bob Van Rossum of MarketPro, and Emily Binder of Budget. The panel was moderated by the brilliant Scot Safon, who did an excellent job interacting and engaging with the audience and panel throughout.
As seen in the pictures above, our seats were closer to the exit doors than the panel itself, but that’s what we have awesome people like MarketPro for.
The discussions addressed millennial-myths, like: they are self-absorbed and think everyone on the team should get a trophy. They are digital addicts, too immersed in their cellphones to connect with other people. They can’t make a decision without getting everyone’s input.
I’ll now take you through the 5 specific myths, some uncomfortable truths, and finally recommendations!
Myth 1: Millennials have different career goals, and expectations, than those of older generations.
Some facts to debunk this myth:
- 18% of Millennials, 18% of Generation X, 18% of Baby Boomers desire to become senior leaders.
- 25% of Millennials, 21% of Generation X, 23% of Baby Boomers want to make a positive impact on their organizations.
The takeaway: Millennials have same career goals and expectations as older generations. They also value the same qualities, like performance-based recognition and inspirational leadership. Myth debunked!
Myth 2: Millennials want constant praise and think everyone on the team should get a trophy.
- 64% of Generation X employees think every member of a successful team should be rewarded, whereas 55% of Millennials feel this way.
The takeaway: For Millennials, requiring that a boss recognize their accomplishments was not ranked as importantly as wanting a boss who is transparent, shares information, and is dependable and consistent. These statistics matched Generation X and Baby Boomer responses. Myth debunked!
Myth 3: Millennials are digital addicts, constantly online, and have no respect for personal or professional boundaries.
- Only 7% of Baby Boomers maintain separation between personal and professional social interactions versus 27% of Millennials.
- Millennials’ top three learning methods for acquiring work-related knowledge are primarily face-to-face tactics: attend third party event (39%), in-person classroom training (37%), and working with colleagues (36%).
- Generation X uses personal social media accounts at work more frequently than other generations. For example, 62% of Generation X use a personal account to market organizational promotions vs. 54% of Millennials.
The takeaway: Millennials feel more comfortable with learning online and accessing online resources than their older counterparts, but they are more than willing to interact face-to-face. Myth debunked!
Myth 4: Millennials can’t make a decision without first inviting everyone to weigh in.
- More than half of Millennials (56%) and Generation Xers (64%) believe they make better business decisions with a variety of input from others versus 49% of Baby Boomers.
- More than half of Millennials (55%) and Generation Xers (61%) value group consensus versus 39% of Baby Boomers.
- More than half of Millennials (53%) and Generation Xers (57%) consider organizational leaders to be the most qualified to make decisions versus 41% of Baby Boomers.
The takeaway: Millennials are no more likely than colleagues from different generations to solicit advice at work. If anything, Baby Boomers are the outliers, which makes it difficult for them to transition into a collaborative work culture. Myth debunked!
Myth 5: Millennials more likely to jump ship if a job doesn’t fulfill their passions.
- 75% of Millennials have held their current position for three years or more.
- An average of 45% of all employees, across generations, change jobs to enter the “fast lane.” (Millennials- 42%, Gen X- 47%, Baby Boomers- 42%)
The takeaway: Age cannot be the only determinant in a career switch, and Millennials weigh and consider progress just as heavily as older colleagues. Myth debunked!
Now for some uncomfortable truths…
1. Many employees aren’t sure they understand the organization’s business strategy, Baby Boomers more so than others.
- Almost half of all respondents claim their leaders don’t clearly communicate their vision or expectations.
- Generation Xers overrate how well they instill confidence and recognize accomplishments, yet a majority of leaders are Generation Xers (35%) versus 26% of Millennials and 22% of Baby Boomers.
2. All three generations think the customer experience is poor.
- But, a majority think their organization uses social media well to engage the consumer: Millennials and Generation X 65%, Baby Boomers 56%.
3. Employees have embraced the tech revolution, but their enterprises are slow to implement new applications.
- Only 4% of respondents claim their organization has no issues implementing new tech.
- 72% of employees worry about new technologies impacting current customer experience.
- Focus on the individual, not generated stereotypes
- Foster a collaborative culture
- Make customer experience a priority
- Leaders should look within for strengths and weaknesses
- Get everyone on board
Millennials are stepping up to take their places in business, and that means change for the good.
I was able to connect with a friend of mine, Darien, following this AMA Atlanta event to discuss Millennial myths. On productivity issues with Millennials, Darien referenced Emily’s thoughts on the topic: “Collaboration is a means towards productivity. Unnecessary meetings and never-ending email threads intended to ‘keep everyone in the loop’ incorporate everyone, but in actuality are not productive. This can be a hard thing to shake even for the most innovative of companies.” You can find his full, and awesome, write-up, here. Definitely check it out.
That about wraps it up. Would love to hear your thoughts! As always, it was great to see some of my friends out there, and meet new ones – Linda Suvalsky, Darien LaBeach, Bennett Travers, Caroline Brown (aka all of Nebo), and Roger Jones – Cheers!
Remember: Go download the IBM study in its entirety, here!
UPDATE: The AMA Flickr album with some pictures from the event can now be found here. Also, thanks to AMA Atlanta for posting this live tweet collage on their Facebook page, featuring yours truly, and fellow O9’er Sarah Arrington.