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Ask a Gen Y


How Gen Y Is Changing HR Departments

June 15, 2012
Related Topics: Talent Management, Generations At Work
KEYWORDS ask a gen y

Earlier this month social software and performance management company Salesforce Rypple released an infographic to illustrate how millennials are shaking up human resource departments. The findings are incredible. It certainly questions those who say change isn’t generational.

According to a compilation of studies the graphic combines, seven in 10 Facebook users and 68 percent of Twitter users have "friended" a co-worker or supervisor. Further, checking Facebook ranks third in the top activities done at work, behind checking personal emails and checking company emails. The bottom line is young professionals born in the '80s and early '90s are much more social than previous generations, and this is changing the workforce.

This isn’t a new conversation. I’ve discussed Gen Y’s social media use before, and I don’t always support it, but I can’t deny it’s transforming what it means to be a working professional. The integration of personal mobile devices, consumer applications and social networks into the workplace is permanent. There is an opportunity brewing on the horizon for corporations to take back control of these collaborative ecosystems and build the next wave of social business for businesses, not consumers.

This news isn’t simply flooding your RSS feed and meeting agendas; it’s taking over pop culture. Have you seen the HBO show "Girls"? It’s about four broke twentysomethings trying to make their way in New York, and according to the Washington Post falls squarely under the umbrella of millennial problems.

The Post defines these problems as those of people without problems (but I disagree, we have problems). Problems of people who worry they aren’t the voice of their generation but rather a voice of a generation. Problems of people whose parents stopped paying for their dry cleaning, who leave internships and think the end of the world is near when their Klout score falls into the low 50s.

The show’s not all true, but there’s something there that ties to the Salesforce Rypple infographic. Being satisfied by what you do is important to all employees, but millennials especially. To not have access to social media is to be unsatisfied, and in a hyperbolic sitcom example, being broke until something fantastic comes along might be better. But what does it all mean for the way we need to think about aligning, engaging and motivating young people? Is it an HR leader’s job to cater to millennials’ needs?

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