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What makes Millennials go? Researcher to share findings in Fort Worth

Tammy Erickson -- author of “Plugged In: The Generation Y Guide to Thriving at Work” (Harvard Business Press, 2008) -- thinks she knows what makes Gen Yers go. AKA Millennials and Generation Next, this is the young group, the children of Baby Boomers, that’s earned a reputation in the workplace for wanting things their way, and now.


Erickson will share her insights in a free public appearance in Fort Worth, 12:15 p.m.-1:45 p.m. Thursday at Texas Wesleyan University's Martin Performance Hall, Historic Campus.


Erickson, who lives in Massachusetts, is president of the nGenera Innovative Network, a research group and consultancy that advises organizations on how to operate as “Next Generation Enterprises.”


Erickson points out in her books, other publications and public appearances that Gen Yers have grown up imbued with the confidence of their Boomer parents.


“Those Boomer parents have been telling them since the day they were born that they could do anything they set their mind to,” she said in a recent video interview with Harvard Business Publishing. “And you know what? They’re ready.”


What else makes this group tick?


Erickson points out that these kids grew up through events such as 9-11 and the Columbine High School and Virginia Tech University shootings. “I think many of them have made the decision that they need to live life now,” she said in the Harvard interview.


Other findings of her research: Gen Yers don’t necessarily want their bosses’ jobs: “Focus group after focus group said it doesn’t look worth it.”


Gen Yers also grew up in a “peer to peer world,” she says, and have no trouble telling the boss what they think.


Finally, their use of new technology such as text-messaging promises to significantly change the way many organizations work, she said in the interview.


“They’re using those short bursts to actually coordinate activities, instead of doing the advance planning that maybe some of use have been accustomed to,” she said. “They’re astonished at the time some of us spend in trying to get a phone call together. Resolve the issue quickly, with much less time invested in trying to get those people together.”


Finally, for every hiring manager who’s ever taken a call from a distressed parent representing their child, Erickson says that’s rooted in research showing how close Gen Yers are to their parents.


“Gen Y very much likes their parents,” she said in the Harvard interview. “That closeness is carrying over not just in school environments, but into the workplace. Parents accompany their kids on job interviews,” and even call prospective employers to check on status of jobs.


“If you’re the employer, I think you should step back from making the initial assumption that maybe the employee has encouraged that behavior,” she said in the interview. But to the parents: “You are tarnishing your young person’s reputation in the workplace.”


- Scott Nishimura, jobs and workplace reporter, Star-Telegram 


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