HR Management & Compliance, Learning & Development

MillennialsText—Good or Bad for the Workplace?

One of the most clichéd or stereotypical images of a younger employee slacking off on the job involves the employee texting at work. But a recent article by Valerie Bolden-Barrett, writing for HR Dive, reveals that texting actually serves legitimate business needs. Many younger managers rely heavily on this medium for communicating with their teams: “Millennials with direct reports prefer to text their subordinates, a Korn Ferry report shows. More than half of millennial bosses (55%) choose messaging to communicate with staff, followed by email (28%), face to face (14%) and phone (3%).”

At the same time, many respondents to the survey cited by Bolden-Barrett indicated that they would prefer if some of their employees in this cohort spent more time using direct discussions. “[W]hen asked what millennial bosses could do better,” she writes, “most of the survey’s 1,500 respondents (29%) said communicate face-to-face more often and keep their bosses better informed (27%).”
While it’s important to facilitate flexible, efficient, and effective communication, employers also need to be aware of how certain behaviors are perceived differently by different age groups. “But employers have to ensure that the generations’ preferences don’t create miscommunication mishaps,” says Bolden-Barrett. “After all, tension between Millennials and other generations is not unheard of. A previous report revealed that Millennials often believe boomers and Gen Xers stifle their advancement, for example.”
The negative perception of a younger person staring at his or her cell phone and texting away is often misplaced. Texting is simply one more medium to convey information, and whether it’s used to convey casual, personal information or professional and work-related information obviously depends on the specific situation.
Bolden-Barrett’s HR Dive article illustrates the fact that employers need to be flexible and open when it comes to generational preferences toward communication but also need to be aware of potential rifts between employees of different generational groups. The key is to balance the abilities of new technologies with a baseline expectation of professionalism.