With dry sarcasm the Urban Dictionary tell us that "millennials believe themselves to be overachievers who just aren't understood by their loser bosses....the only generation in the universe to understand the concept of work life balance and to actually want to find a fulfilling career."
Of course it's wrong to oversimplify one's observations about any group, but from my own experience I do think it's fair to say that Millennials (definitions of age vary, but they're roughly 20-35 years old today) are high achievers who believe they can do more than what the workplace asks of them. They are not afraid to create bobblehead images of their bosses if they think their bosses are stupid. They will openly question idiotic time-consuming bureaucratic nonsense. Their relationships mean as much to them as their jobs do. And they think Gen Xers are way too intense: that life should not be taken too seriously generally.
Millennials also use social media in a very ordinary way, that is to say it is not an exception to their daily life but rather a constant accompaniment. According to YPulse chart below (data current as of September 8, 2015), which shows data about Millennials' use of social media, 76% use Facebook at least once a day.
Of course all age groups use social media. But for Millennials the use of technology is what sets their generation apart. This technology is fundamentally about connecting to other people as well as access to information. Consider that as long ago as 2014, according to Nielsen, 32% of adults 18-24 years old to connect while in the bathroom and 51% of those age 25-34 take time out from work to do social networking at work.
If you want to work effectively with Millennials, you've got to respect their expertise, their positivity and their efficient and balanced approach to work. You've also got to embrace their innate adoption of social networking tools both on the job and off.
Of course, "Social networking" means more than just giving Millennials a place to put files where others can see them. It's far beyond reluctantly "letting them" use their iPhone on the side. It is about establishing social communities that are vibrant -- just as compelling, open and all-encompassing as Facebook will ever be.
If you haven't implemented one of these tools in your workplace yet -- no matter how tiny you think your business is or how minimally you think employees need it -- now is a good time to consider it, if you want to recruit and retain top talent.
All opinions my own. Photo by Paul Keheler via Wikipedia/Flickr (Creative Commons)