Debunking the Myths About Millennials

Nowadays, it’s pretty much impossible to attend an HR conference that doesn’t have at least one session focusing on the subject of millennials—and this year’s HR Tech Conference is no exception.

In her remarks during a session titled “Engaging and Retaining a New Generation of Workers at LivingSocial,” LivingSocial Senior Vice President of HR Colleen Wood (who co-presented with Adam Rogers, chief technology officer at Ultimate Software, the firm’s HR software vendor) debunked three “millennial myths.”

Myth #1, Wood said, is that millennials won’t do grunt work. Millennials at LivingSocial, she explained, are ready to prove themselves in any way possible by volunteering for pilot groups and becoming part of “tiger teams,” though many still want to be reassured that their efforts are going to a greater good.

Myth #2, she said, is they want the job on day one. LivingSocial’s millennials, she said, want to hit the ground running on day one and they use learning tools, such as LivingSocialU, on a daily basis to grow their skills in all areas—including those outside of their own professional job description.

Myth #3, she continued, is they want managers to do the work for them. LivingSocial’s open floor plan, she explained, allows millennials to collaborate with their manager at any time. “We try to make it easy for managers and employees to get together and collaborate with one another,” she said.

Wood noted that 28 percent of LivingSocial employees work remotely. “That means we have to give employees tools to keep them connected,” she said, adding that the company provides “virtual watercoolers” so remote workers can keep up-to-date on developments.

She pointed out that LivingSocial has also modified its recruiting strategy, including the way it crafts job ads, to attract the right kind of talent to the company. “We try to use words that capture the kind of culture that we have … and help people understand the kind of environment they’re going to be working in,” she said, citing words and phrases such as “attention to detail, competitive, energetic, competitive, taking smart risks and compassionate” as examples.

Wood also listed three key attributes that are at the heart of LivingSocial’s HR technology strategy and went into the firm’s selection of Ultimate Software: accessibility, usability and functionality.

At the end of the day, she said, HR technologies need to allow employees to focus on being successful at their jobs—and not get in the way.