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Social Sharing: Leveraging Millennials’ Skills

The millennial generation is often characterized as being obsessed with sharing every single moment of their lives – no matter how commonplace some of those moments may seem – on social media and commenting on posts made by others. To older generations, this desire – or even compulsion – to share can feel somewhat alien. But as the first generation to grow up fully immersed in the internet and a technologically hyper-connected world, millennials truly are “digital natives.” From a business point of view then, isn’t it time to recognize these behaviors as a potential asset and start to really understand the benefits that can be gleaned from making better use of the millennials’ unique skill set?

That is the question posed by a recent article from Harvard Business Review, which also suggests that millennials are better equipped than older generations to handle and process multiple streams of information, and more at ease with the use of technology to innovate. The article cites a case study of Burberry who engaged a team of “digital natives” to broaden the luxury brand’s reach in a relevant and “cool” way, for example by live-streaming and tweeting about the latest runway show. From my own experience, tapping into millennial digital knowledge is a great way to stay at the forefront of emerging trends, and actively seeking the input of younger team members helps foster an atmosphere of innovation and collaboration.

But it’s not just about leveraging the digital perspective of this generation. Research shows again and again that the attitude of millennials towards work differs significantly to those who have gone before, with this generation placing much greater emphasis on finding work which is meaningful and gives them a sense of accomplishment than being overly focused on monetary reward. The ramifications from an HR perspective are potentially significant and again, I believe it’s important to look to the opportunity this presents: organizations that better utilize the skills that millennials have to offer, while finding ways for them to be able to contribute meaningfully should not only have better staff retention rates but also an army of highly vocal and visible supporters.

Managing millennials in the workplace:

  • Flag your corporate social responsibility credentials – and build them up if they are lacking. Millennials respond to authenticity – and will let their peers know about their experiences, good and bad.
  • Recognize the importance of a work/life balance. Millennials have a life beyond work and a desire to actively participate in their communities – their jobs are not the be-all and end-all. That said, they want to enjoy their workplace so it’s important work is fulfilling and fun.
  • Foster a collaborative culture where it is easy for millennials to contribute ideas.
  • Leverage their digital knowledge. Keep one step ahead by getting insight into new and emerging trends. Empower them by giving them some responsibility for social media posts.
  • Remember they are up for a challenge. Millennials are by nature multi-taskers and require variety and new challenges to stay focused. This is a generation with a great deal to offer, great news!

Millennials in brief:

  • By 2030, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce (source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Millennials are the most racially diverse generation in American history (source: Pew Research).
  • A greater share of millennial women have a bachelor’s degree than their male counterparts – a reversal from the Silent generation (source: Pew Research).
  • 90% of new graduates “actively seek out companies whose corporate responsibility behavior reflects their own.” (Source: Price Waterhouse Coopers)
  • A quarter of millennials believe that their relationship with technology – as “digital natives” – is what makes their generation unique. (Source: Council of Economic Affairs)


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