Management Millennials in the Workplace
by
Jennifer J. Deal, Alec Levenson
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 August 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0108

Introduction

Millennials as a cohort are defined globally as those people born between 1981 and 2000. There may be some differences globally in what this generation is called, as generations are based on a combination of birth rate and societal events (e.g., wars in Israel, the ending of apartheid in South Africa, and economic changes in India and China). While there are differences in names, the concept of a generation is common across cultures, and is considered distinct from youth in general, as generational membership follows the cohort through their life span. The question of how Millennials are adapting to and changing the workplace is a common one. Those investigating Millennials approach this question from a variety of different perspectives, including health, Technology, attitudes, and behaviors. Others look at differences across generations to identify trends to be watched. Most of the research on Millennials in the workplace has been focused on professionals and managers in office jobs, while very few have looked at Millennials in non-office or trade-based occupations. While the majority of research on Millennials in the workplace has been done in the United States, there has been some from other countries. The combined literature presents a complicated picture. It is possible that Millennials may respond to surveys in a manner that represents higher self-esteem than previous generations, and a differing attitude toward work generally. They are quite effective with newer technologies, and are likely to have tattoos. But there is little evidence that they have different desires in the workplace. Research on particular areas related to Millennials at work such as work centrality, relationships, technology, self-esteem, cultural differences, perceptions of corporate social responsibility, focus on ethics and tolerance, and health shows how varied topics relevant to Millennials at work are. The issue of Millennials in the workplace is a complex one, and Millennials are best understood by looking at them from a variety of perspectives because the variations and implications are substantial.

Books

Books about Millennials have the potential to provide particularly important and varied contributions to our understanding about Millennials and generational differences. Because the entire topic of a generation can touch on so many different aspects of social and economic life, book-length treatments can provide the depth needed to investigate the various aspects in detail. Unfortunately, many of the contributions tend toward prognostication and speculation, rather than careful scientific analysis. One exception is Ng, et al. 2014, which provides a thorough and balanced treatment of generational issues in international settings. Two of the other books in this section, Strauss and Howe 1991 and Strauss and Howe 2000, use data-based analysis to forecast future characteristics of Millennials.

  • Bauerlein, Mark. The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30). New York: Penguin, 2008.

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    The author discusses how the digital world is changing the way young people engage with information. He suggests that the immediacy and intimacy of social networking sites have focused young people on using the Internet as a communication tool rather than as a learning tool. He asserts that as a result of the peculiar spelling, grammar, and punctuation allowed in Internet communication, this actually encourages illiteracy by making it socially acceptable.

  • Ng, Eddie S., Sean Lyons, and Linda Schweitzer, eds. Managing the New Workforce: International Perspectives on the Millennial Generation. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2014.

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    This edited volume draws on the knowledge and expertise of a number of different researchers to look into details of Millennials globally. The contributors to this volume come from around the world, and document the cultural, historical, and social context surrounding the Millennials, providing an understanding of the new workforce in multiple countries and settings.

  • Strauss, William, and Neil Howe. Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069. New York: William Morrow, 1991.

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    This book looks at generations in America between 1584 and 2069. They propose and describe their theory that each generation belongs to one of four types, and that these types repeat sequentially in a fixed pattern; thus there is a recurring cycle of generations in the United States.

  • Strauss, Neil, and William Howe. Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation. New York: Vintage, 2000.

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    This book examines Millennials born after 1982, and forecasts the implications of their behavior and interests, including shifts in popular music and television options, an increase in emphasis on manners and modesty, reduction in substance abuse, and an increase in trust and teamwork.

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