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Diverse Millennials making impact in the workplace, study shows

Thursday, December 15, 2011  
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The Millennial generation, born between 1977 and 1998, offer diversity in a variety of ways -- and are making a big impact in the workplace, according to a recent report by the Center for Work & Family at Boston College.

Millennials, also called Generation Y, are a racially and ethnically diverse generation, more likely raised in single-parent homes, blended families and families with same-sex parents than ever before. They hold more egalitarian views about the roles of women than their predecessor generations did and are team play­ers, optimistic, confident, trusting of authority, rule-followers and generally achievement-oriented in everything they undertake, according to "Creating Tomorrow’s Leaders: the Expanding Roles of Millennials in the Workplace,” authored by Lauren Stiller Rikleen, the Center for Work & Family executive-in-residence.

"As Baby Boomers retire or scale back, the leadership roles they have occupied for so long will need to be filled. Because Generation X is too small to completely fill the void, Millennials will quickly need to undertake many of these leadership roles,” Rikleen noted. "Accordingly, there is a clear workplace imperative for business organizations to support the Mil­lennials in their growth and development as future leaders. By identifying and cultivating leadership talent early, employers can best position their workplac­es for smooth leadership transitions and a stronger future.”

Especially significant to their career pathing, Millennials are the most affluent and well-educated generation in history, and are estimated to be as numerous as – if not larger than – their parents’ generation, the Baby Boomers. Also, they are the first generation in history to have been im­mersed in technology throughout their lives, which will have a significant impact on the way they will communicate as leaders, Rikleen noted.

However, this early and constant exposure to technology has re­sulted in certain behavioral characteristics. Technology has enabled increased availability and accessi­bility to consumer goods, leading to a greater abundance in choices. As a result, Millennials expect customized se­lections in products and services, and bring these expec­tations into the workplace as employees and as leaders, according to the report.

Technology also leads to a preference for flexibility. Mil­lennials seek institutions that provide flexible careers and schedules in an effort to maximize opportunities. More­over, Millennials expect flexibility from other people and from institutions, and have a strong desire for speed and efficiency.

Also, there is a significant disconnect between how Millennials define success and how managers perceive that Millennials define it, previous research has shown. While many managers believe that Millennials are primarily focused on money, whereas Millennials report themselves as more focused on meaning meaningful work.

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