Millennials and Communication in the Workforce Research Published by School of Communication Studies Assistant Professor
School of Communication Studies assistant professor Suzy D’Enbeau recently published a joint research project concerning changes in the workplace and the Millennial generation.
The Millennial generation - those born between 1982 and 2000 - is known to be the largest generation since the Baby Boomers, with an estimated population of 80 million in the workplace.
“Everyone complains each time a new generation enters the workforce, but the complaints about Millennials - about how they’re ‘the worst’ - seem much more prevalent,” D’Enbeau said. “With this research we wanted to examine if those complaints are really about Millennials and their entrance into the workplace or if something else is causing the complaints.”
D’Enbeau and her fellow researchers - Kristen Lucas, Ph.D., Purdue University and Erica Heiden, M.A., University of Nebraska-Lincoln - conducted an archival analysis to answer their research questions. They reviewed issues of HR Magazine that were printed approximately at the mid-point of the time period when the Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials were entering the workforce. The analysis examined each generation, the gender of the organization - whether it held more masculine or feminine values and meanings - and its communication.
D’Enbeau said that their interpretation of the data led the research team to find Millennials’ expectations for work and workplace communication can be viewed as being more feminine - a shift away from the traditional masculine communication in organizations.
“Millennials have very different expectations than other generations - they want a flexible work schedule, they value and expect work-life balance, they need feedback, they want recognition,” D’Enbeau said. “These are expectations that are commonly thought of as being more feminine resulting in communication shifting from a masculine act of command-and-control to include more feminine acts of care.”
This shift in communication could be, in part, what is causing other generations to voice concerns about the Millennial generation, as organizations change practices to best serve the needs of this increasingly large workforce.
D’Enbeau suggested the research findings might encourage organization leaders to strive toward creating a work environment with more open communication across all levels.
The full research study will appear in the Journal of Management Inquiry.