Most researchers will roughly identify “Millenials” as those born between the years 1980 and 2000. Now, take a moment and consider the different lives that would come from that range—particularly as it relates to technology.

Some millennials didn’t get dial-up internet access until they were teenagers, while others can hardly remember life before the iPhone. Some millennials are now in their early 40s, while others just finished their Bachelor’s degree immediately after high school.

All this to say, any trend or analysis about this generation (or any generation) should be taken with a considerable pinch of Himalayan sea salt.

The transformational impact of consumer technology hit millenials in a truly unique way, and today we’re still trying to understand the implications for the workplace—particularly for the IT department.

You may already know that more than one-in-three American labor force participants (35%) are millennials, according to Pew Research.

Millennials live and breathe technology. Apps such as Google Drive, Google Classroom, and Dropbox are considered the bare minimum in the schooling of their generation. They have been taught from a young age that the more apps they utilize, the more productive they become.

They have been taught from a young age that the more apps they utilize, the more productive they become.

Millennials are also a generation of problem-solvers, and if they’re not satisfied with the technology offered to them, they’ll find something better to use. They’re ready to take risks and innovate—nothing will keep them from making an impact and having a voice in what they are passionate about. More specifically, if the technology in their workplace is limited or outdated and they’re not satisfied, they’ll move on. In fact, 42% of millennials said they would leave a company due to “substandard technology,” in a study conducted by Penn Schoen Berland (PSB).

That’s why, today, most millennial employees believe in having the freedom to personalize their workday by choosing the best SaaS apps they see fit for themselves.

According to Beezy, in a survey of 800 employees, they found that Millenials were far and away more likely to use Shadow IT!

A whopping 54% of millennials reported using Shadow IT.

This is compared with:

  • Generation X—38%
  • Generation Z—33%
  • Baby Boomers—15%

Your Millennial Employees are Using More Apps Than You Think

Managers are starting to push the idea of giving near complete freedom to their employees in order to offer more flexibility (and encourage more responsibility) in the workplace. This approach of decentralized or embedded IT is becoming the more popular choice among companies with more millennial employees, replacing standard centralized IT.

Sometimes this creates a divide between younger generations, who prefer decentralized IT, and older generations, who tend to believe that centralized IT is more effective. Those preferring centralized IT resist giving it up, as it provides more security and consistency.

Which approach is better? No one can be sure yet, and this is a known conflict arising from the digital transformation and increase of millennials in the workplace.

We do know one thing for sure: the next generations are taking over the workforce. In 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce (Brookings).

Let’s Break Down Some Stereotypes . . .

  1. Myth: Millennials don’t know what it’s like to work hard.
    Truth: HBR published a story titled “Millennials Are Actually Workaholics, According to Research,” arguing that not only are Millenials not uniquely lazy, but they are also actually really hard workers (like every generation). Often though, Millenials get the “lazy” label because they are more likely to question the method of work—often opting to hunt for a more efficient means to accomplish the same task (something reflected in the aforementioned increase of Shadow IT).
  2. Myth: Millennials need someone to hold their hand every step of the way.
    Truth: Millennials are often inexperienced but very independent.

    The reality is that Millenials and Gen Z both prefer self-service when possible.  What is sometimes seen as dependence is really just inexperience that every new employee will experience when entering the workforce for the first time.

  3. Myth: Millennials are entitled.
    Truth: It depends on what you mean! The trouble with this myth is that the term “entitled” is difficult to define and even more difficult to quantify, measure, and research. However, often what people mean by entitled is expecting things for free or with minimal effort.

    In the case of millennials, there are expectations of pay or promotions that previous generations find unbecoming. However, often these expectations are based on more education and higher proficiency with technology than previous generations, with 68% of hiring managers saying millennials possess skills that previous generations do not.

    Now the question is, does this qualify as entitlement or knowing your worth? That’s up to you to decide.

Something that might change your perspective:

In 1968, LIFE Magazine ran a cover story on the “Generation Gap,” describing young Baby Boomers as “privileged, narcissistic, entitled, spoiled, lazy” young people.

TIME ran a similar story on young Gen Xers in 1990, calling them “lazy, entitled, selfish, shallow, unambitious shoe-gazers . . . [who] have trouble making decisions. They would rather hike in the Himalayas than climb a corporate ladder.”

How are millennial IT professionals changing the game?

They want to see the purpose or bigger picture of their role.

A stable income is important, but millennials’ real priority is being a part of something bigger than themselves. That’s why many companies today expand their IT roles beyond their traditional scope in order to keep millennials motivated—mixing in other roles such as product development or exposing them to other areas of the company.

They want to work in a collaborative environment.

Millennials want constant feedback. They want to know they are on track, and that requires high responsiveness from their colleagues. SaaS tools like Slack and Asana have made collaboration an instantaneous process, rather than the now-outdated methods of email and long meetings.

They don’t want to be confined by rules.

Millennials want almost absolute freedom when it comes to how they choose to work, as well as advancement opportunities within the company. They are more likely to want remote work and flexible schedules. They also want their ideas to be treated the same as anyone else’s in the company, whether or not they’re in an executive role. In short, they simply will not stand for the standard hierarchical structure of traditional organizations.

Conclusion: Millenials Are… People

The truth is that millennials are just people. Many of the behavior that receives attention is simply normal for their stage of life.

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