It is hard to find a specific date for when Millenials or Generation Y started.  Consensus seems to be that the shift from Generation X to Generation Y started around 1980.  Accepting that as true, we will begin to see this generation having a greater and greater impact on our places of work. It was a shock to me that a millenial could be in his or her 30s.  It is also the case that millenials are the fastest growing segment of today’s workforce.  The article linked in the previous sentence describes millenials as tech-savvy, family centric, achievement oriented, team oriented, and attention craving.

What impact will this generation have on the workplace?  We are already seeing one change, the focus on social networking.  This Harvard Business Review blog post cites research that strongly indicates that millenials will continue to share information about themselves and their work as they age.  This suggests that their openness is not limited to their social time but actually extends to all aspects of their lives.  In the post, the author points out that the practice of “working in private” and “only sharing our output when it is done” is contrary to the way millenials think.

He points out that “Gen Y finds [the] approach [described above] somewhere between quaint and dumb. They inherently follow the advice of blog pioneer Dave Winer to “narrate your work” — to use 2.0 tools like blogs, microblogs, and social networking software to broadcast not only the finished products of knowledge work, but also the work in progress.  He sees two benefits to this.  “First, people who narrate their work become helpful to the rest of the organization, because the digital trail they leave makes others more efficient. Second, by airing their questions and challenges work narrators open themselves up to good ideas and helpfulness from others, and so become more efficient themselves.”

If you are getting worried that only good can come from the preferences of Gen Y, the author ends the post by promising to post concerns about the affect of Gen Y on the workplace.  Be sure to come back.

Click here for information on how to motivate Gen Y.

UPDATE: Click here to read a brief post on what millenials want from their leaders.