Managing the Millennials

3 Tips for Taking the Right Approach
Managing the Millennials

Members of Generation Y bring important new skills to the workplace, including proficiency in making the most of social media and mobile devices. But with those skills come challenges, including making sure younger workers take the right security steps.

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To recruit talented "millennials," generally those born between the early 1980s and early 1990s, organizations must, for example, accommodate the use of personally-owned mobile devices for work purposes. They also may need to tolerate the personal use of social media during business hours. This means they must carefully educate younger workers about their expectations on work ethics, data privacy and the risks involved in embracing the latest technologies.

As hiring of millennials continues to grow, organizations must take three steps, experts say:

  • Provide updated management training for supervisors;
  • Involve younger workers in devising ways to manage the risks involved in new technologies; and
  • Make sure new workers' expectations are clearly understood.

Benefits of Hiring Millennials

Many members of Generation Y are tech-savvy and have good work ethics. "They communicate from the moment they are up in the morning," says James Gattuso, director of recruitment and staffing for the consulting firm CSC. "Their readiness for challenges, thirst for collaboration and urgency to get things accomplished is outstanding."

Because the latest information technologies play such a major role in millennials' lives, they can help companies leverage new communication channels. "They are taking responsibility sooner and literally driving our client conversations and application development to allow global mobility in emerging technology areas," says Mark Lobel, principal with the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Managing the New Generation

But many members of the younger generation are seeking to dictate their own work terms, such as using personally-owned mobile devices for work purposes and using social media for personal use during the work day.

"As long as I am delivering good work it should not matter how I get there," says Brian Maxwell, a millenial who is a software developer at Booz Allen Hamilton. "Just because I am on Facebook or checking on my sports team while working does not mean I am not productive."

More than half of the IT security workforce at PwC locations globally are millennials, Lobel says. The reason is that majority of the company's clients are hiring millennials "who want to network with like-minded individuals," he says.

Training Managers

To help senior managers do a better job of supervising younger workers, CSC and other companies are offering specialized training. For example, training at CSC involves helping IT managers understand that the autonomous work style preferred by many millennials can be as efficient as a regimented day in the office.

"The millennials are happy to be judged by their output and work deliverables, but don't like to be tied or managed closely on how they get their work done," Gattuso says. "Our training is a new lens through which managers understand the generational differences and values that drive these millennials."

Partners in Risk Management

Because many younger workers want to use personally-owned smart phones, tablets and other devices for work, more companies are launching creative programs to address the risks involved in the bring-your-own-device trend.

"BYOD is a big risk concern with Generation Y," Lobel acknowledges. But rather than simply providing a list of "don'ts," PwC involves younger workers in devising ways to address risks and develop new mobile applications, he says. This effort sometimes involves contests for devising innovative strategies. "Let younger folks figure out the risks and solutions," he says. "Once you get them thinking, they transform from being owners of devices into their guardians."

Understanding Expectations

Many IT security leaders are devoting more time and effort to understanding the expectations of the millennials during the hiring process. "Understanding someone who is extremely career motivated vs. someone who is seeking a work-life balance is critical because expectations I have as a manager will be different for each," says Chris Wilkinson, information security manager at the consulting firm Crowe Horwath.

About 60 percent of the staff members in the company's IT security and risk group are recent graduates directly recruited from college campuses. When recruiting, Wilkinson makes it a priority to learn more about millennials needs, such as their work style preferences.

"They do tend to work differently, but we don't find their work style a detriment to work productivity," Wilkinson says. "Open communication and learning to balance their dedication for security while ensuring that work does not become just a job for them often does the magic."

Gattuso of CSC warns that problems can arise when the managers fail to openly discuss their expectations with new hires. "No doubt, they are less traditional, but they want to be accountable for their work and their expectations largely revolve around a 'meeting of the minds,'" Gattuso says. "It is our job to make them as efficient as possible and adapt our work and management style to the requirements of our future - the millennials."

About the Author

Upasana Gupta

Upasana Gupta

Contributing Editor, CareersInfoSecurity

Upasana Gupta oversees CareersInfoSecurity and shepherds career and leadership coverage for all Information Security Media Group's media properties. She regularly writes on career topics and speaks to senior executives on a wide-range of subjects, including security leadership, privacy, risk management, application security and fraud. She also helps produce podcasts and is instrumental in the global expansion of ISMG websites by recruiting international information security and risk experts to contribute content, including blogs. Upasana previously served as a resource manager focusing on hiring, recruiting and human resources at Icons Inc., an IT security advisory firm affiliated with ISMG. She holds an MBA in human resources from Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, Iowa.

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