So it turns out that Millennials are like everyone else (but with flashier phones and terrible taste in music).
IBM conducted a multigenerational study of 1,784 employees from organisations across 12 countries and six industries, comparing the preferences and behavioral patterns of Millennials with those of Gen X (aged 35–49) and Baby Boomers (aged 50–60) and found remarkable consistency across the cohorts.
The authors begin by acknowledging that the fundamental distinction between millennials and older employees concerns their digital proficiency. “Millennials are the first generation to grow up immersed in a digital world. Using mobile and social technologies, immediately accessing data, ideas and inspiration and instantly communicating and collaborating is second nature for these digital natives.”
The bottom line however was that while there are some distinctions, Millennials’ attitudes are not poles apart from other employees’.
Take technology for instance, across the board companies get marked down by their employees when it comes to their speed to implement.
According to the study, “As more Millennials have embarked on their careers, expectations of a technological revolution in the workplace have increased. However, only four percent of respondents claim their organisation has no issues implementing new technologies.”
The inhibitors that delay the adoption of the latest innovations include the complexity of new technologies, as well as their leaders’ lack of vision and technological savvy.
“Most employees, irrespective of age, are critical of their organisation’s ability to effectively address the customer experience,” say the authors, referencing earlier stidues.
Interestingly by far the biggest barrier cited by every generation was a fear of the impact changes would have on the customer experience. “Ironically, even though most respondents think the customer experience is lacking, they also believe their organisations would rather maintain this unfortunate status quo than risk introducing new technologies that could improve the situation.”
That lead the researchers to identifiy what they describe as five common myths;
- Myth 1: Millennials’ career goals and expectations are different from those of older generations. Millennials have similar career aspirations to those of other generations. And their goals are as varied— in nearly the same proportions—as those of their older colleagues. Millennials desire financial security and seniority just as much as Gen X and Baby Boomers, while Gen X and Baby Boomers are just as interested as Millennials in working with a diverse group of people. Our data reveal no standouts or trends that signify any generational predilections.
- Myth 2: Millennials want constant acclaim and think everyone on the team should get a trophy. We asked all our respondents to rank the top three attributes of their perfect boss. Above all, Millennials want a manager who’s ethical and fair and also values transparency and dependability. They think it’s less important to have a boss who recognizes their accomplishments and asks for their input. In fact, Gen X employees are almost as likely to want a boss who provides pats on the back, and Baby Boomers are more likely to want a boss who solicits their views.
- Myth 3: Millennials are digital addicts who want to do—and share—everything online, without regard for personal or professional boundaries. No question about it, Millennials are adept at interacting online, but this doesn’t mean they want to do everything virtually. When it comes to acquiring new work-related knowledge and skills, for example, they prefer face-to-face contact. They’re slightly more comfortable with virtual learning than their older colleagues: 35 percent are happy to use self-paced interactive modules, apps or online simulations, compared to 33 percent of Gen X and 30 percent of Baby Boomers. However, Millennials’ top three preferences involve personal interaction
- Myth 4: Millennials, unlike their older colleagues, can’t make a decision without first inviting everyone to weigh in. Despite their reputation for crowdsourcing, Millennials are no more likely than many of their older colleagues to solicit advice at work. True, more than half of all Millennials say they make better business decisions when a variety of people provide input. But nearly two-thirds of Gen X employees say the same.
- Myth 5: Millennials are more likely to jump ship if a job doesn’t fulfill their passions. Another fiction. When Millennials change jobs, they do so for much the same reasons as Gen X and Baby Boomers. We asked respondents why they would leave their current job for another, and four key motives surfaced: to enter the fast lane, shoot for the top, follow one’s heart, or save the world. Basically, there are no overwhelming generational differences.
And sadly, the research found some other areas where Millennials find that whole rat race experience a little frustration. According to the study, “Employees are in the dark. Many aren’t sure they understand their organisation’s business strategy—and their leaders are partly to blame. More than half of the people we surveyed don’t fully understand key elements of their organization’s strategy, what they’re supposed to do or what their customers want. ”
The authors describe the result as alarming and say at least some of the blame starts at the top with almost a clear majority of those surveyed saying the bosses are poor communicators. Gen X leaders in particular tend to exaggerate their effectiveness as communicators.
This article originally appeared on www.which-50.com
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