Millennials: Generation why?
By Julie Bernhard

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If millennials haven't hit your office yet, they are on their way. Easily identified by their smartphone obsessions, tech savvy and attention deficit disorders, millennials are infiltrating recruiting offices and headed to a cube near you.

INDUSTRY PULSE

Do you work closely with millennials?
  • 1. Yes, and they do a great job
  • 2. Yes, but I'm not impressed
  • 3. No, but I'm looking forward to it
  • 4. No, and I'd rather not

From "selfie" photos to participation trophies, it's a whole new world for those outside Generation "Me." Millennials have been broadly described as narcissistic, lazy, coddled and even a bit delusional. Fame is number one on their priority list, and Facebook fans supersede the importance of actual friends.

Immediate instincts might be to take an early retirement, but remarkably this new group up-and-comers in Generation Y shouldn't have you wondering, "Generation why?" — they could be the next success story for your business. While it may seem like it's their world we live in, you can also use the following millennial traits to your advantage:
  1. They think they are the next-best thing since sliced bread. Self-portraits might seem a little odd, but ultimately millennials have the optimism most of us wish still remained — especially in this post-recession period. They grew up hearing how special they were from their parents, so allow them to demonstrate. Have them spearhead a project you would normally ask a more senior-level employee to take on. You might be surprised at the results. While a project might not be "broke," as they say, it may run even better with a new face behind it.

  2. They have the attention span of a 5-year-old. These guys grew up with a lot of stimuli. From the TV to the computer and now to the smartphone, there is always a distraction. Information is coming at millennials from all directions, and they have the ability to absorb it. It's not that they can't pay attention, they are just trying to keep up. No need to stick to one task with this group — pile them on. Multitasking is their forte. This will not only increase productivity, but also create more well-rounded employees as well.

  3. Patience is not one of their virtues. Thanks to being surrounded by technology, millennials have a need for speed. Instant gratification is commonplace in their book; waiting around is definitely a foreign concept. From sending emails to nailing a presentation, they expect to see results pretty quickly. Millennials are driven by immediate results. Advancement might not always be available at that particular moment, but that doesn't mean you can't still dangle the carrot. Try offering them some further job responsibilities or give them a new challenge. Knowing they are on your peripheral will give them the drive to keep going.

  4. All their "friends" are virtual. Communicating outside of a device is less and less common for them. Texting has replaced phone calls. Their first contact with a job recruiter is usually via email. They even rely on the Web to find their next date. It makes you wonder if they even know how to speak? Fear not they surprisingly do understand face-to-face; and might even work out in your favor. While it is less frequent, doesn't mean they can't in fact they can probably do it better. Since most of their communication is limited to 140 characters, you can get those meeting times cut in half. Talk about gr8 timing!
Ultimately, there is no need to run for cover, welcome them into your cubicle with open arms. Underneath the Instagram filters and pithy tweets, these guys want the same things we all do; it's just a matter of making a few adjustments. It'll only be a matter of time before you're spouting Generation Why Not.

Julie Bernhard is the editorial development manager at MultiBriefs.