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Understanding How Millennial Professionals Communicate

In the online Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Communication program from the University of Mount Saint Vincent (UMSV), students learn the art and science of communicating successfully in various professional areas. According to the Pew Research Center, millennials play a crucial role in these environments, comprising over one-third of the U.S. workforce.

Therefore, understanding how millennials communicate professionally is vital to modern communications work. Students in UMSV’s online B.A. in Communication program explore the communication styles of diverse populations. Integral to this is understanding the dynamic values, desires, and motivations that inform different groups’ interaction behaviors in the workplace.

How Do Millennials Communicate Differently Than Other Generations?

Generational differences in communication styles certainly exist, namely in terms of technology use and digital communications. Millennials are the first generation to enter adulthood in the era of digital communications. Given this, many millennials are “digital natives,” competent with modern technologies and adaptable to rapid changes and innovations in technology use.

Being steeped in digital communication forms (social media, instant messaging, email, and more) can inform communication styles and preferences. Many millennials still grew up with “traditional” forms of written and oral communication, meaning many have developed skillsets in all ranges of digital and conventional communications.

However, one of the most notable differences between millennials and other generations may be that millennials readily differentiate communication forms according to setting and purpose. They are often inherently flexible in interaction style and adaptive to what best suits a given situation.

How Are Millennials’ Values and Motivations Unique?

Many generational differences stem from a lack of understanding over different perceptions, as opposed to accurately generalizable qualities. A handful of studies have focused on the most common motivators for millennial workers, and how they differ from other generations. According to, work-life flexibility, personal time, regular feedback, career options, and collaboration opportunities are some of the major elements millennial workers seek in their professional spaces.

This means that retaining millennial talent involves allowing employees to focus on elements beyond just work: offering flexible schedules and space to pursue personal projects, training, or volunteering ventures are critical. They also need professional spaces for mentorship and coaching and building rapport with clients and coworkers. They seek job progression titles that allow them to pursue their interests and strengths and don’t silo them too much. They also value culture and organizations that prioritize community good and corporate responsibility.

WorkBoard points to findings that suggest millennial workers are not as concerned with a job’s paycheck as other generations. All other factors mentioned tend to take precedent over money.

Other generations certainly possess similar values and incentives, but millennials are unique, to a degree, in their priorities and sources of engagement. To generalize, millennials are often motivated more by meaningful responsibilities, social interactions, and flexibility, whereas other generations tend to value the more quantifiable, monetary drivers of a career.

How Does This Impact Professional Communication?

Whether working in the office, managing remote teams or organizing a marketing campaign, engagement is key when considering millennial employees and professional communication.

This, of course, is the case with any type of professional communication. Still, millennials demand more in the way of personalized challenge, positive work culture, diversity, value-based motivation, transparency, and flexibility. Improving these aspects can benefit the entire workforce, not just younger employees.

For instance, incorporating multiple communication channels prioritized by the type or urgency of messaging can improve workplace efficiency. Employers can involve millennials in the process of integrating digital communications channels. Plus, because millennials are uniquely fluid in both digital and traditional communications, they can be instrumental in helping coworkers learn unfamiliar communication modes, bridging the gap between older and younger generations of workers.

Regarding the work-life-social approach, fostering a positive work culture based on transparency and teamwork (as opposed to competition) drives productivity, collaboration, and innovation. Advancing diversity in the workplace further engenders a supportive, creative, and collaborative environment. Communicating and demonstrating corporate social responsibility fosters value alignment, loyalty, and retention.

Study Intercultural and Interpersonal Communication at the University of Mount Saint Vincent

If anything, millennial professionals communicate with honesty and authenticity. They are flexible and highly competent across communication channels and driven to excel when motivated by communications that speak to their values. As millennials are the largest generational cohort in the U.S. workforce, their communication styles and values will likely continue to shape professional communications.

For these reasons, communication specialists must be versed in how millennials and other generations of workers approach and connect with others. In classes like the Communicating in a Digital World course and the Organizational Communication course, students in UMSV’s online B.A. in Communication program learn how to incorporate the perspectives and communication styles of various generations to improve workplace culture and business outcomes.

Learn more about UMSV’s online B.A. in Communication program.

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