Digital-Native Millennials Get Hacked

Millennials — the masters and commanders of the digital world — are putting themselves in cyber peril when it comes to online privacy and security.

It is a bit ironic that these digital sophisticates are being fooled by online scams more than older generations, but new studies by TransUnion, TrueCaller, the Better Business Bureau and other organizations have shown that Millennials are more likely than older generations to be duped by scams online, through text messages and even through phone calls.

TransUnion found that most Millennials (about 85 percent) keep bank account information in their mobile devices and access bank accounts through public, open wi-fi connections. Baby Boomers and even members of Generation X (the generation that tends to trust nothing and no one) are significantly less likely to take that type of risk with personal, financial information.

With corporate financial fraud on the rise through business email hackings, this is not just an issue surrounding Millennials’ personal information and privacy. Millennials’ employers, managers and corporate IT departments should start educational campaigns in their companies to help Millennials understand what’s at risk and how to protect competitive information at work.

Parental Control Backfires

Like many Millennial traits, this can be traced back to how Millennials were raised. Millennials grew up with parents and teachers who protected them in many ways from the dangers of the world. This included parental controls on cable television, websites designed just for youth, parental monitoring services like Disney’s Circleand more. Because many Millennials grew up in a digital world that was safe and largely trustworthy, they did not learn when to be wary or how to protect themselves.

Not all Millennials are the same, however. Within the Millennial generation, there are differences in how older (or first-wave) Millennials and younger (or second-wave) Millennials. First-wave Millennials tend to use security and anti-virus software, password managers and other tech tools to protect themselves more often and more consistently than younger Millennials, according to some studies.

Inevitably, some Millennials will learn “the hard way” about online privacy and safety when they become victims of a scam, they experience credit card or bank fraud, or their identity is stolen. Otherwise, older Millennials, Gen-X members and even Baby Boomers — the Millennials’ parents, managers and mentors — should work to instill some digital fear into members of this generation.

5 Things Millennials are Thankful For

Being a Millennial isn’t easy.

More so than other generations, members of the Millennial generation are dealing with crushing levels of student debt. Forbes reported that 57 percent of Millennials “regret how much they borrowed” for education, and now it’s delaying Millennials’ ability to buy a home, get married or do other things they want to do.

Yet for all the education they have, their job prospects are perpetually uncertain. More than half of Millennials report being “underemployed,” according to an Accenture survey. Many Millennials are turning to “gig economy” jobs – cobbling together a series of part-time or contract jobs to make ends meet. It’s rare for these jobs to come with benefits for retirement savings or health insurance, which puts more even financial pressure on young professionals.

What keeps Millennials awake at night? Retirement, job security and debt, mostly, according to a study by Charles Schwab & Co.

But in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, we would like to recognize that Millennials have much to be thankful for. Here are five of them:

Flexibility at Work

While gig economy jobs may not be ideal in some ways, they do afford Millennials a significant amount of flexibility. Millennials like the way being a full-time freelancer or contractor gives them freedom and independence, career development and learning opportunities they believe a more “traditional” 9-to-5 job wouldn’t.

Even within “traditional” jobs, employers are embracing the notion of a more flexible work schedule. Fully half of the U.S. workforce has a job that is compatible with at least some teleworking, according to Global Workplace Analytics.

Technology plays an important role in this dynamic. Thanks to near-ubiquitous wi-fi, the adoption of tablets, newer workplace communication tools like Asana and Slack and the proliferation of co-working spaces, being productive outside the office is entirely possible.


Thanks, technology! There’s no doubt Millennials have incorporated digital technology into many, many facets of their life. From driving directions to working remotely to staying in touch with friends and family, Millennials are definitely digital natives.

But don’t get confused – being a digital native does not make Millennials digital addicts. While they appreciate what technology allows them to do, they say it does not replace in-person conversations, particularly in the workplace.

Social Awareness

Millennials are the most socially aware generation to date. They put a priority on social responsibility in many areas of their life. When shopping, they are more willing to pay more for sustainable products and services, according to a Neilsen global study.

Companies are paying attention to this trend in the products and services they offer, and in their commitment to the community. More than 90 percent of Millennials want to work for socially responsible companies. And a Deloitte survey showed 70 percent of Millennials “listed their company’s commitment to the community as an influence on their decision to work there.”

Whether a company is seeking Millennials’ dollars or talent, corporate social responsibility is key and a trend Millennials are thankful for.

Understanding and Involved Parents

Financial stress from student loans and job uncertainty means a lot of Millennials are trying to save money on housing by moving back home with Mom and Dad. Some Millennials are using the money they save on rent to pay back student loans faster so they can move on with their adult lives.

Thank goodness for understanding parents! While there haven’t been many studies about how the parents actually feel about this, more than one-third of college seniors in 2016 planned to live at home for at least a year after graduation, according to the job website Indeed. Millennials grew up with parents who were highly involved in their children’s emotional and educational development and activities.

For employers who are looking to hire recent graduates, it’s likely that prospective Millennial hires’ parents are heavily involved in this process. That may mean answering questions from parents, inviting parents into the office and even reassuring parents that your company has their child’s best professional interests in mind.

Optimism and Drive

Millennials were raised with the belief that they could do anything and be anyone when they grew up. Witnessing the United States’ first black president and the first woman at the top of a major party ticket, as well as seeing Millennial successes like Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Millennials are ambitious, passionate – and optimistic.

Almost half (49 percent) of Millennials say the country’s best years are ahead of them, but just 42 percent of Generation X members and 44 percent of Baby Boomers say the same, according to Pew Research Center.

That sense of optimism will serve them well both personally and professionally. Optimism has been cited as the single most critical characteristic of successful entrepreneurs. Their optimism may also make them healthier in the long-term, as studies have shown a positive mental outlook has a good affect on cardiovascular health.

For those who are hiring Millennials in the new year, keeping in mind these five things that Millennials appreciate — flexibility, technology, social awareness, involved parents and optimism — will help with successful recruitment, hiring and long-term retention. Millennials will be thankful for managers who coach them, keep their professional goals in mind and allow Millennials the opportunity to be themselves.

Myth: Millennials are Digital Addicts and Avoid In-Person Communication

Millennials are digital addicts. They post Instagram photos from the dinner table, check Snapchat before they get out of bed in the morning and are more concerned about losing their phone than losing their wallet. Combine this with their inability to have a face-to-face conversation, and, well… the essence of humanity hangs in the balance.

Not so. Studies repeatedly have shown Millennials appreciate in-person engagement through their daily interactions, and in the workplace a strong majority prefer to interact with colleagues in person.

Millennials appreciate flexible schedules and the ability to work from anywhere, and they incorporate digital technology into almost every aspect of their life — but they say digital doesn’t outweigh the value of having a real conversation as part of building strong relationships. Communication for Millennials is not an either/or proposition with digital and in-person. It’s both.

Today, all generations are digitally dependent, but Millennials are the only generation that literally grew up with the internet, search engines, texting, and social media. This makes their interactions with technology more comfortable and seamless with their daily routine. They are indeed, “digital natives,” but it does not means they replace digital interaction at the expense of face-to-face interaction.

Millennials Don’t Always ‘Prefer’ Digital Communications

While Millennials are used to processing a lot of digital information and some seem to have the ability to multitask more efficiently than previous generations, they don’t always prefer digital communication. Studies from the Pew Research Center show that although Millennials send more text messages than members of other generations, their use of the telephone is the same as older adults. And when they can’t figure something out, they would rather talk to a person than get help online. “For many Millennials, person-to-person contact is still a reliable and effective solution to their problems — not something they fear or avoid,” Nielsen Norman Group reported.

This applies in the workplace, too. A Fortune/IBM study shows that when it comes to learning new professional skills, Millennials prefer face-to-face interaction and in-person coaching and mentoring.

Additionally, although many people characterize Millennials as a generation of over-sharers, that same Fortune/IBM study revealed Millennials are more likely to draw a firm line between professionalism and personal sharing than older generations.

Other Generations are Digital Addicts, Too

It’s not just Millennials who love technology. A Nielsen study found that older generations of adults are just as addicted to their mobile devices. Baby Boomers are more likely to use technology during a family meal than their Millennial or Homelander (sometimes called Generation Z) counterparts. More than half of Baby Boomers (52 percent) have admitted to using technology at the dinner table – 12 percent more than Millennials and 14 percent more than Homelanders.

Tips for Managers and Employers

What does all of this mean for the people who manage Millennial employees?

First, don’t assume that Millennials are less communicative than other generations — but be aware that it may be through different mediums at different times. Millennials will appreciate employers and managers who have found flexibility in integrating communications technology in the workplace.

Second, be open to Millennials’ suggestions to new communication tools that can help them (and you) communicate. Many Millennials are using systems like Slack or Asana in managing projects and messaging co-workers about project statuses.

Finally, nothing will replace in-person communication. It’s still key for all employees to have the opportunity to have in-person meetings, and for Millennials, in-person meetings are the best way to show that you care about them.

Millennials in the Workplace: Meeting Them Where They Are

Understanding any generation — and working with them effectively and productively — means knowing how they were raised. It is important to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” and consider Millennials’ upbringing, how they have been raised and what they value.

In leadership, you cannot fully utilize an individual team member’s strengths unless you really know them and know where they’re coming from. To develop Millennials professionally, it helps as a manager to communicate the way that they understand, taking into account their perspective.

There are certain hot buttons that can spur a Millennial to higher levels of engagement and activity.

  • Members of the Millennial generation were raised to feel special by parents who engaged with them, made them feel wanted and important, and were actively involved in their lives. For employers, that means a more hands-on, self-affirming approach to management that visibly and positively rewards them for accomplishing their goals. Here is where a coaching model to managing really works. (And no, you don’t need to buy a box of trophies. A simple gift card to Starbucks for a job well done works just as well.)

  • Millennials were raised with teamwork, collaboration and community-mindedness. They played team sports, worked on group projects in school and volunteer work was a routine part of their education.

  • They grew up with rapidly developing technology and are comfortable communicating in new ways, across management levels and in an open and honest manner.

Employers should meet Millennials where they are. Here are three ways employers can to do that to encourage professional growth and commitment:

  1. First impressions are everything. For example, you’ll never get their attention if your website is cluttered, difficult to navigate and uses outdated technology. The message that sends to Millennials is that your company isn’t forward-thinking and technologically savvy. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly, clean and has up-to-date content, in addition to addressing why the company’s mission matters and what the company does for its community and to better the world.By doing that, you’ll actually attract other generations, too! A great example is, the website of Woodruff Sawyer & Company, an independent insurance company whose website is both well-designed and speaks to the company’s role in the community and world.

  2. Personalize outreach with high-tech and high-touch elements. Give Millennial candidates the chance to speak to both top executives and newly-hired employees.Millennials are keen on transparency and on open and honest communication across professional levels. Millennials are used to being able to reach colleagues and higher-ups through multiple, convenient channels and want to work for CEOs who follow through on promises.

  3. During the recruitment process, give Millennials a chance to speak with not just with human resources staff and their direct potential manager, but with recently hired employees and top executives, too. Recruiters should maintain frequent communication with Millennial applicants, too, without sacrificing formal niceties.

In the onboarding process, schedule immersive orientations in order to build a network of trust among their new peers and foster a sense of community. Welcome Millennials like it’s a privilege to work with them.

A just-released white paper from Coaching Millennials goes over six simple strategies every employer can use to attract, manage, and retain the best Millennial talent. Along with meeting them where they are, the white paper discusses coaching millennials with feedback, creating a positive environment and more. Download the white paper (free) here.

5 Terrible Ways to Manage Millennials

With all the attention on the right way to manage Millennials, I thought I would share some ‘worst practices’ that I have seen in recent months as a way to help managers avoid irreversible errors in managing and coaching Millennials.

Turnover remains high with Millennials, but research still suggests that Millennials would rather work for “one perfect employer” than hop from job to job. So, here it goes… 5 terrible ways to manage Millennials:

1. Practice Tough Love

Most middle managers and even senior managers fall into the Generation X (ages 32 – 51) category. Xers came of age at a time of economic malaise and cultural tension. For them growing up, the world was a dangerous place. Generation X was the latch-key generation. Unwanted pregnancies reached a peak in the US in the 80’s and early 90’s, risk behavior such as drinking and driving and drug use increased. While Boomers practiced ‘free love’, Xers worried about AIDS.

Because of their tough gritty experiences, Xers entered the workforce, fairly successfully on their own with no help from anyone. They were the survivalists and entrepreneurs that embraced risk with a fiercely independent spirit. I see many Xer managers treat Millennials with the kind of ‘tough love’ mentality that they experienced when they entered the workforce.

News flash: Millennials don’t ‘get’ tough love. Their experience was entirely different growing up. They were raised ‘carefully’ by their helicopter parents who surrounded them with teams of teachers, counselors, physicians, and tutors that worked on every aspect of their development. Their expectation for the workplace is the same.You can’t give a Millennial too much attention.

2. Give them the Big Picture on an Assignment

For as empowered and confident as Millennials are, they need descriptions of assignments in detailed clarity. It is not enough to say, “read through this 1,000-page document and create a 3-page summary”. You would need to identify for them exactly how the summary should be developed, what font and format you want, when you want it by, and what resources are available to help them complete the assignment. Millennials prefer step-by-step explanations in as much detail as possible.

3. Take Their Toys Away

A few years ago, I was doing a research project for a U.S. government agency. We were trying to identify the drivers of satisfaction among Millennials. While the top results all had to do with feedback, two elements emerged that were unexpected: they wanted larger monitors or even two monitors on their desks, and they wanted to be plugged into to their social network throughout the workday. Now, I realize there are some jobs where this would not be possible, but consider the two things that have always been a priority for Millennials– cutting edge technology, and ability to connect to their social network. One hotel manager told me, “I tried to stop them from getting on Facebook, but it was impossible.  Instead, I have designated times for Facebook breaks throughout the day, and this really has helped, not hurt productivity and moral.”

4. Don’t Offer/Explain Benefits

One of the most remarkable and unexpected characteristics of Millennials is their interest in benefits like 401k, retirement, health benefits, wellness and flex programs, etc. It was always assumed that young people don’t care about these things– after all, retirement is a long way off, and young people are generally healthy, but according to a study by MetLife, this does not appear to be the case. In fact, Millennials actually value benefits more than older generations! This is a reversal in thinking, as it was always assumed that phase of life would influence attitudes toward benefits. There is also emerging evidence that Millennials are investing a higher percentage of their income into 401k’s compared to older generations. So, don’t assume that Millennials don’t care about these issues, and make sure you provide plenty of opportunities to explain these benefits in great detail.

5. Try to be ‘Cool’, like Them

This is an awful strategy. Millennials expect older generations to act their age. Millennials already have a very positive and informal relationship with authority figures. Studies have shown that Millennials have a far better relationship with their parents compared to Boomers and Xers when they were young. And Millennials also share many of the same cultural interests as their parents– they watch movies together, listen to the same music, and communicate far more frequently than previous generations. But Millennials value interactions with their own generation. Don’t insert yourself into their friend network and start posting stuff on Facebook and Twitter. If you do, you will not be cool, you will be weird.

What are some of the ‘worst practices’ you’ve heard about in Managing Millennials? Better yet, what works best for you in managing Millennials?

-Warren Wright

Quantified Self: A Movement Built by GenXers, Adored by Millennials

Quantified What?

FitBitDaytumMood Panda—you’ll be hearing a lot more about these self-monitoring devices that track your daily experiences in life, measuring everything from heart rate to number of steps taken to sleep patterns. This new biofeedback technology is part of the quantified selfmovement (also called self-tracking or body hacking) which uses technology to gather data on all aspects of a person’s daily life.

How Big Will It Be?

Apple is so convinced of the demand for these devices, they’ve developed  and entire suite of Apps. Their new App, Digifit,  is strapped onto your body to record your heart rate, pace, speed and cadence of your running, cycling and other athletic activity. PricewaterhouseCoopers has predictedthat the worldwide market for mobile health care devices and communications will jump from $4.5 billion in 2013 to $23 billion in 2017.

How Generations Play a Role

What is the generational angle on this? Typical of emerging consumer movements , there are often two generations at play: one that sets the conditions, and one that adopts and consumes. Both Generation X and Millennials play a role here.

Generation X (born between 1961-1981) was the first generation to embrace measurement as it relates to performance. Choice, behavior incentive, and market incentives defines this generation contribution to the business world. While the Boomers were off accomplishing their ‘mission’ (perhaps some ill-defined utopian state) GenXers were quietly measuring impact of activity on performance. GenX Google founders Sergy Brin and Larry Page turned the advertising world upside down by introducing a pay-for-performance model of advertising. Now GenX has found a way to bring measurement and performance to personal human behavior. Most leaders in the Quantified Self movement, first defined by Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly in a 2007 Wired Magazine article, are born in the 1970’s, while the consumers and enthusiasts are born in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Millennials say… Monitor Me, Please

While early wave GenXers and Boomers may be wary of this self-monitoring due to privacy concerns and technology adoption reluctance, Millennials can’t wait to get their hands on this stuff.

Clearly technology adoption plays a role in Millennials’ acceptance of this movement, but it is the culture of Millennials that assure body-hacking is here to stay. As I pointed out in previous blogs, Millennials are much more comfortable sharing their personal information over web, so sharing even intimate details on sleep patterns is not a concern. Furthermore, as Neil Howe points out, Millennials are an achieving generation. They’ve grown up in an environment where test scores matter and there are measured goals (achieving GPA and SAT scores to get into college, etc. ). At the heart of self-monitoring devices is the ability to measure so you can improve. Millennials will accept this challenge with gusto.

Finally, Millennials have grown up in a heavily monitored environment, so there is something comforting about the idea of monitoring their well being. This was the first generation whose parents had the monitor listening devices in their room, so they could hear every peep from the crib. Remember—Millennials trust technology. Technology is their friend.  I can easily see a 24-year old posting her heart rate results on Facebook to the adoring comments from friends and parents “Way to go!” and “Good job!” This positive feedback– the essential motivator for Millennials– encourages better results, of course. And with their close relationship with parents, it is easy to see how texting their results to their parents will be the norm.

So, how can companies take advantage of this new self-monitoring movement, and what implications can this have to your healthcare? Stay tuned for my next blog post for some ideas…

-Warren Wright

Millennials: Full Disclosure or Bust

The headlines are awash with emerging details on a 29-year old whistleblower named Edward Snowden, who disclosed classified secrets in order to expose the “surveillance state” of the U.S. government. In his role as an analyst for the National Security Agency (NSA), Snowden had access to classified material on a government program named PRISM that gave the government nearly unlimited access to every U.S. citizens’ emails and web-browsing activity.

Snowden, a Millennial, was well aware of the risks he was taking in exposing this top-secret NSA program. It is no coincidence that he and the soldier arrested for passing on classified material to Wikileaks’ Bradley Manning (25-years old), are both Millennials. Earlier this year, Aaron Swartz, age 26, committed suicide after felony charges relating to hacking into MIT’s computer system in order to download some academic journals.

Is it just a coincidence they are all Millennials? Not a chance. What do their actions tell us about Millennials in the workplace, and what do employers need to know about managing this new generation?

Here are 3 things employers should know about Millennials in the workplace:

1. Technology is a Millennial’s best friend, and best friends don’t cross you

Navigating the web, finding new apps, downloading new software programs—

Millennials have a kinship with technology that we have not seen in any previous generation. According to a recent survey by Generations consultancy, LifeCourse Associates, 93% of Millennials use social media for personal reasons, compared to 80% of GenXers and 61% of Boomers. As long as technology is Millennials’ best friend, there is an expectation that this friend, or those responsible for the technology, will not double-cross you.

When Sergy Brin and Larry Page started Google (both GenXers), they came up with a company slogan that they still use today: “Don’t Be Evil.” Little did they know, they created an expectation for an entire generation. Millennials trust technology, in part because technology has been an enabling partner with them from an early age—a source of entertainment, a way to stay close with friends and share things with them, even a way to help them with their school work. Their parents, whom they also trust, gave them their first smart phone in order to stay in touch. Technology is not just a lifeline for Millennials, it is their life.

Millennials don’t mind that you may be watching them, but they do mind if you are doing it secretly. Companies should be clear about their privacy laws, and they should be upfront that, yes, they do have the ability to access employees’ emails, but they are, in fact not evil, they only do it for good reasons.

2. Millennials’ Tolerance for Self-Disclosure is very low

When Baby Boomers were young, their biggest fear was oversight from big brother. George Orwell’s 1984 (written in 1949) was the guidebook for civic distrust of large institutions. Protecting privacy, particularly from the subversive forces of a centrally-controlled government or institution resonated with an entire generation. These days, Millennials gladly put cameras in their own room, and post the most intimate details of their daily activities for all to see. Yes, they will share almost anything, but they have an expectation that everyone else is sharing as well. The Millennial quid pro quo is… “I’ll be transparent, but I expect that you will be transparent too”. Yes, even in the case of the U.S. government, large institutions, or their employer. Our recent Millennial Minute on Salary Sharing speaks to new topic of interest or managers and HR directors: Millennials routinely sharing their information on salaries.

So when there is a perception that an institution is being nothing short of 100% transparent, Millennials will often push back. Lesson? Be transparent. Of course this does not go for the U.S intelligence community, but most employers will do good to go out of their way to be as transparent as possible about the decisions they make. Re-evaluate what you disclose to employees, and consider loosening the reins on information that does not entirely compromise your company’s mission. And if there is information that you cannot share, be explicit about why. For Millennials, honesty will trump secrecy all day long.

3. Save the world now, fat paycheck later…maybe

Millennials have very different priorities than their GenX counterparts. When GenXers were graduating from college in the 1980’s and 1990’s, a common route to a career was an MBA or law degree, then onto the highest paying job possible. Millennials are different. Far more college graduates today (and there are more of them) are going into professions in the non-profit world, and those that accept employment at for-profit companies prefer that the company practices long-term sustainable practices that are good for society. A 2011 Deloitte survey found Millennials who participated frequently in company-sponsored volunteer work are far more likely than their non-volunteering peers to rate their corporate culture as positive, to be proud to work for their company, to feel loyal, to recommend their company to a friend, and to be very satisfied with their employer and with the progression of their career.  Millennials are dedicated to corporate social responsibility, and not recognizing this dynamic can lead to Millennial disengagement and may even prompt them to challenge their employer on issues where they disagree.

What’s an employer to do? Employers need a way to scratch that itch that Millennials have. Make sure your social responsibility programs are not just ad-hoc after thoughts, but are integrated into the company’s core strategy and purpose. And allow Millennials to do social responsibility work on company time. This is worth the investment, as they will be much more likely to work longer hours on the project that you need them to do. Not only can you attract and retain  the most talented Millennials, but you will build a bond of trust that will pay big dividends in the future.

BOTTOM LINE: Get to know your Millennials, understand where they are coming from and why they think the way they do. Be sensitive to their hot spots, and start to work toward a more transparent, authentic operating style that clearly explains what your company believes and why they believe it.

– Warren Wright