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What the influx of the Millennial Generation will mean for IT

By Nancy Weil
December 3, 2010 06:00 AM ET

IDG News Service - In about 15 years, the Millennial Generation -- the "digital natives" who began entering the workforce in 2000 -- will be, more or less, in charge of their workplaces, with those who have leadership potential having moved up the corporate rungs by then.

Those who track hiring trends and offer advice to recruiters and companies looking to hire skilled IT workers say now is the time to better understand what makes that generation tick and what their presence and influence means for organizations now and in the future.

"These individuals have a different set of priorities. They value different things in the workplace," says Scot Melland, chairman, president and CEO of Dice Holdings, which operates Dice.com, the technology and engineering careers website. He echoes the findings of the Pew Research Center whose seminal report on Millennials found, among other things: "They are the first generation in human history who regard behaviors like tweeting and texting, along with websites like Facebook, YouTube, Google and Wikipedia, not as astonishing innovations of the digital era, but as everyday parts of their social lives and their search for understanding."

The report opens by noting: "Generations, like people, have personalities, and Millennials -- the American teens and twenty-somethings who are making the passage into adulthood at the start of a new millennium -- have begun to forge theirs: confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change." Their confidence as a group means that while their entry into the workforce has been hampered by the recession, they remain more upbeat about their prospects than are older workers, Pew found.

Generally, Millennials in IT who work at their computers much of the time will assume that it's OK for them to be logged on to Facebook, to be instant messaging and texting with friends and family throughout the workday, according to Pew and others who have studied Millennials.

They also work best in flexible environments, in cultures where the specific hours someone works, as well as whether they work in the office or at home, are less important than getting the work done. As a group, they tend to feel the need to express their opinions and to know that those are valued and that their voices are heard. They need to feel they are part of the success of the overall organization rather than just another small cog in a big wheel. A sense of accomplishment and making a difference matter more to them than a big paycheck. They are less hierarchical and expect to have access to company leaders.

"They're used to constant and immediate feedback, so whether it's someone that they report to or someone their boss reports to, they believe, 'I should have access to that person and be able to learn from that person,'" says Matthew Ripaldi, a senior vice president at the IT staffing and recruiting services company Modis and Ajilon Consulting. "If you put too much structure in place, that turns them away."

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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