As Baby Boomers retire, their children, the Millennial generation, are coming into the workplace, behind the in-between Generation X. University of South Carolina Sociology Professor Rob Ployhart says millennials differ from their predecessors in some key ways: they are the first generation to grow up completely in the digital age, and they expect the companies they work for to be technologically savvy. Certain ideas about millennials picture them as spoiled, self-obsessed techno-nerds that don’t want to work normal hours and need playtime at work, as evidenced by giant tech companies like Google. But Ployhart and fellow USC sociologist and demographer Dr. Caroline Hartnett dispute that image, with Hartnett adding that millennials are motivated by working for an organization with values that align with their own.
Oddly, the financial data website Smart Asset names Columbia as the second-most popular spot in America to move for millennials. Hartnett finds that fascinating, saying one reason could be the number of colleges in the Capital City, but it could also be factors that would attract anyone else: an affordable, livable city that is a good place raise kids. Plus, many millennials may have been squeezed out of bigger – and more expensive – cities by the costs of living there. Both professors see millennials as potentially good workers that will bring talents to the workplace and change it by their sheer numbers, but that they’ll have to make some concessions to the status quo, also. Ployhart said companies can manage millennials by realizing that they are different – but not that much.