Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, and it's a unique cohort that's been shaped significantly by the rise of technology. This generation has grown up with the internet, smartphones, and social media, and these tools have fundamentally influenced their communication styles, work habits, and overall worldview. They're the only generation who was born before this tech, embraced new tech as advancements were/are made, and continues to use it in every day like and work. This makes Millennials more tech savvy than generations prior, and now, more tech savvy than generations following (sorry, GenZ).
Social scientists have long observed that each generation communicates differently and exhibits distinct characteristics based on their birth years, and Millennials are no exception. In fact, their communication styles and habits are of growing concern to employers, educators, and scholars seeking to bridge generational differences in various contexts, including the workplace.
One of the most noticeable traits of Millennials is their perceived addiction to technology. However, this isn't the curse some managers and executives often think it is. Researchers now look to younger generations to forecast the future of technological use and patterns in culture, and Millennials' regular and simultaneous use of various devices like video game consoles, televisions, smartphones, computers, and tablets has led to a noticeable trait: multitasking. They engage in more media experiences simultaneously by stacking devices, believing that it helps to speed the process of learning.
This trend also contributes to an increase in knowledge and awareness. With an internet-enabled device always near, millennials have no reason to leave any question unanswered. Every query can be quickly web searched and answered. Robert and I do this ALL the time - if we don't know something, or we disagree, we both get our phones out and find out who's right (surely a sign of a healthy relationship, right?) Our logic: there's just no reason not to know.
While this tech ubiquity often leads older generations to see them as distracted or unable to focus during face-to-face conversations, it's important to note that millennials still prefer face-to-face interactions for important one-on-one conversations. In fact, they bring a unique and valuable culture to the workplace. They value honesty, accessibility, promotion, feedback, equality, optimism, freshness, and technology. They are seen as the future of business, and their influence is reshaping traditional work environments. However, it's crucial for decision-makers and leaders to understand and adapt to these changes to ensure a harmonious and productive workplace.
This is going to be a multi-part, so stay tuned for the whole tale!
This post is based on the thesis "Millennials, Be Yourself Sometimes" by Stephen Aber at Queens University of Charlotte, 2019.