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5 Millennials-in-the-Workplace Myths Busted

By Tom Kaneshige
October 1, 2013 09:56 AM ET

CIO - Ever get the feeling that older people just don't get you? That's the bane of every younger generation, which is now squarely on the shoulders of millennials, also called GenY and Digital Natives.

Millennials, which one survey qualifies as 18- to 32-year-olds, are shaping the always-on digital culture. They're supposedly dreaming of carrying and now wearing the latest gadgets and gizmos. They've been called "spoiled" and "entitled" and "disrespectful" by older workers.

But how much of this is myth?

A new survey by Cornerstone OnDemand on workplace productivity sheds light on the various generations in the workplace. Kelton, a consultancy and researcher, surveyed 1,029 U.S. employees in August on behalf of Cornerstone OnDemand about worker habits related to technology. The survey debunked many millennial stereotypes.

Here are five busted myths.

Myth 1: Millennials crave information. You can never have too much, the thinking goes. Older people who wait a whole day to get yesterday's news on a piece of cheap paper thrown on their porches are fools. With Twitter, Facebook and news alerts on their smartphones, millennials are the first to know everything.

After all, who wants to unplug?

Busted: While it's true that twice as many millennials depend more on their smartphones for work (and are more likely to opt in to a BYOD program) compared to older generations, they feel the most overwhelmed by information overload. Signs also point to gadget fatigue among millenials.

In the Cornerstone OnDemand survey, information overload was cited by 41 percent of millennials compared to 31 percent among older generations. Technology overload was cited by 38 percent compared to 20 percent.

[ Slideshow: 15 iPhone Apps Millennials Can't Live Without ]

Myth 2: Millennials don't care about privacy. After all, they freely share their lives on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Busted: Sure, millennials share a lot about themselves on social networks. But this makes them even more wary of privacy - young people know what can go wrong.

A recent MobileIron survey of 3,000 workers across the United States, United Kingdom and Germany found that employees over 55 (the Cold War generation) were far more comfortable than 18 to 24 year olds with their company seeing their personal data. One of the most popular iPhone apps among millennials is Snapchat, which lets you share a photo or video and then deletes it after a matter of second time.

Myth 3: Need to tell a millennial something? Be quick about it. Shoot a text message or start a video chat. Don't type out a long email, because they don't regularly check email or even want to read one. It's all about 140 characters or less. What about a conversation face-to-face? What a waste.

Busted: Despite the stereotype of the screen-staring, unsocial millennial, they really do want to have real connections the old-fashioned way. In the Cornerstone OnDemand survey, three out of five millennials said they favor in-person collaboration rather than online or via phone or video chat. Across all generations, seven out of 10 U.S. employees agree.

[ Related: Millennials in the Valley: Inside the GenY Mindset ]

Myth 4: Millennials love to work, and they've got loads of energy. For them, personal and work lives are one and the same. They'll work on weekends or into the wee hours and do their laundry while on the clock. Their job helps define who they are. Work will set you free.

Busted: Among the working generations, who feels the most overloaded with work? Surprise, it's the millennials. The Cornerstone OnDemand survey found that 58 percent of millennial respondents said they've experienced work overload, compared to 48 percent of older-generation respondents.

Myth 5: "Millennials are not like us. I can't relate to them. They're spoiled and don't want to pay their dues." -GenXers and Baby Boomers

Busted: It's an old myth that the younger generation is vastly different than our own. In truth, we're far more alike than we want to believe, especially when it comes to our work culture.

At a Commonwealth Club event in San Francisco earlier this summer, staffing execs from Google, Twitter and Cisco talked about the various generations in the workplace. Young people, they said, were just as worried about job security as older people, as the country emerges from tough economic times. Millennials, GenXers and Baby Boomers are all eager to take on challenges and learn from others.

And, like everyone else, the top reason for millennials to leave a job is a bad relationship with a manager.

Tom Kaneshige covers Apple, BYOD and Consumerization of IT for CIO.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn. Email Tom at tkaneshige@cio.com

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This story is reprinted from CIO.com, an online resource for information executives. Story Copyright CXO Media Inc., 2012. All rights reserved.
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