Employees at Concord-based shoe and sole maker Vibram USA, known for its funky, minimalist FiveFingers line of active shoes are pictured as they do pushups together in the office.
The Millennial Generation, or Generation Y, is the group of people born roughly between 1982 and 2002. With the generation’s oldest members entering their 30s and becoming a force in the workplace, area employers say they have to find new ways to attract and accommodate the young workers, or risk losing out on top talent. Next
Stephond Goler, 29, is thriving in his job as a customer service team leader. Goler says he never sits at a chair when working.
Goler exhibits what employers and researchers say are classic traits of the Millennial Generation, or Generation Y: In addition to being mobile and amenable to change and placing a high value on their work environment, Millennials are seen as bringing a sense of entitlement to the workplace, with expectations of quick advancement, frequent feedback, and two-way communication with higher-ups. Next
Jim Simpson, operations manager at Vibram, said Millennials have “brought an open, fresh, fun vibe to the company.” At Vibram, employees go for runs on their lunch breaks, sit on exercise balls at their desks, and walk the halls in workout shorts.
“They’re quick to adapt,” Simpson said. “They say, ‘This makes sense, let’s do this.’ ” He added that he has had to get used to younger employees “texting in sick,” instead of calling when they are going to miss work. Next
Kate Shane Middleton an event marketing associate at Vibram uses an exercise ball instead of a chair as she works at a desk.
Older generations sometimes find themselves annoyed with Generation Y’s sense of entitlement, said Rachel Reiser, assistant dean at Babson College in Wellesley and author of “Millennials on Board: The Impact of the Rising Generation on the Workplace.”
But young employees are already making positive contributions to their places of work, Reiser said. “The concern about hubris and entitlement is a valid one, and it’s also one that has become overblown. Millennials are really underappreciated in their interest in making an impact right out of the gate.” Next
Ryan Archambeault, digital marketing coordinator at Vibram, who is known for his tatoos, is pictured at work.
Millennials view employers as “service providers,” not much different from a cellphone carrier, said Praveen Purushotham, global head of marketing at Virtusa Corp. in Westborough, an information technology services company. “You can’t say, ‘This is my service, take it or leave it,’ because they will leave it.” At Virtusa, Millennials make up 86 percent of its global workforce.
In order to provide more feedback, Virtusa has developed an online platform that tracks productivity and the quality of work by employees. The company also hands out monthly and quarterly awards, and has created its own social network to communicate with employees, rather than sending out one-way missives that are often ignored by younger workers. Next
But this generation’s great expectations have been tempered by the down economy, she said, and younger workers are improving work environments for all generations with their demands for more feedback, and their facility with technology and social media.
Reiser also pointed out that Millennials have high rates of volunteerism, are more comfortable with workplace diversity than their older counterparts, and want to work for socially responsible companies. “I think the positives far outweigh the negatives,” Reiser said.
Millennial workers provide “an infusion of new blood,” said Ron O’Brien, director of public relations for Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., a Waltham company that makes scientific instruments.
The shoe display room at Vibram is pictured. Back to the beginning
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