The influx of millennials is changing employee communication best practices.


How young is your youngest employee? For certain companies that hire college graduates, that new worker is likely to be about 22.

For others, employees can be as young as 15 or 16.

In either case, it’s important to realize that these young workers have a very different experience of communication than you do—and different expectations about effective communication than senior leaders do.

For a glimpse of this distinctive perspective, take a look at the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The college has been creating this list since 1997, which is the same year that kids going to college were born.

It should come as no surprise that my focus is on how this age group experiences communication.

Here are Beloit’s communication insights:

  • Incoming college freshmen don’t remember a world without Google.
  • And they equate “research” with going online, not poring through books.
  • They’ve never licked a postage stamp. (And most equate mail with something digital, not paper.)
  • Email is considered a formal communication, requiring full sentences (for the most part). It feels very official.
  • To communicate on a personal level, 18-year-olds choose texting (or Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat).
  • Wi-fi is a fact of life (for those whose family have means).
  • TV and other screens have always been in high definition.
  • If communication is too dense, incoming freshmen will text TL DR (too long; didn’t read).

Of course, the best way to learn about your new employees’ communication needs is to conduct your own research. Even if you simply schedule a focus group or two, you’ll gain valuable insights about what information new hires need and how they prefer to be communicated with.

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