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How to hire, manage and even appreciate millennial IT workers

Rich Hein | Nov. 21, 2012
A recent survey reveals that hiring managers are far more likely to hire IT pros from Generation-X or baby-boomers than they are to hire from the millennial generation. Find out what's behind this trend and why you have to learn to stop worrying and love millennials.

Generation-Y, Net Generation, millennials or whatever you choose to call the generations of IT workers between the ages of 20-30 have gotten a reputation for being tech-savvy, but also a needy, job-hopping generation with a sense of entitlement. talked to industry experts to find out what's behind these perceptions and to learn how companies and millennials can better work together. After all, an entire generation of baby boomers is easing out of the job market, so the reality is you will have to learn how to hire, manage and promote millennials.

A recent survey commissioned by Adecco Group North America, a national workforce solutions company, reveals some interesting facts regarding millennials and the hiring process. Braun Research , on Adecco's behalf, conducted a telephone survey of 501 managers responsible for making hiring decisions and asked them questions about their experience with and perceptions of mature (50 and older) and millennial workers. It also asked how those differences impact their hiring decisions.

The results revealed that hiring managers are three times more likely to hire a mature worker than a millennial. "Mature workers are associated with being reliable, but many also think they lack technology know-how," says Diana Fitting, senior vice president of the Engineering & Information Technology and Medical & Science Professional Staffing lines of Adecco Group North America. So why are some companies holding back on hiring younger workers? And what can companies do to embrace the millennial generation?

Current Perceptions of Millennials

A good place to start is a look at current perceptions of millennials. "Respondents [to the survey] perceive millennials to be tech savvy, but feel that their long-term commitment to a company or hiring managers may be unknown," says Fitting. Considering this is the first generation to be completely immersed in this digital world from their earliest years, it's no surprise that this generation would excel with the technology that surrounds them. So aside from that what makes this generation so different?

"Millennials are perceived to potentially have issues taking direction from those older than them, whereas the mature worker may resist input from younger counterparts. This kind of age friction is something to be aware of, because it certainly cuts across the workplace in general. It is also important to note that the millennial IT talent needs more constant feedback and validation on their work than preceding generations," says Fitting.

Millennials Are Different: Money Doesn't Always Talk

"When you look at what millennials are looking for in the workplace and you match that up with what qualities make a good workplace, there's almost a complete match," says Lauren Rikleen of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership and Executive-in-Residence for Boston College's Center for Work and Family. The two qualities that normally top the list are work-life flexibility and meaningful work. "Compensation often times doesn't make it into the top three with millennials," Rikleen says.


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