Millennials in the workplace

By , November 11, 2010

You’ve heard a lot about the Millennials, the youngest generation in today’s workforce — born between 1980 and 2000. There are about 75 million Millennials and this group includes many people with disabilities. Millennials, also known as Gen-Y, have been criticized for not being as hard-working as Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers, but they have many unique characteristics that make them very desirable to employers.

As Millennials, including those with disabilities, come to rule the workplace, here are five reasons you’ll want to recruit them as fast as you can.

    1. They value diversity. Globally connected Millennials have encountered many types of diverse people over their lifetime. They’re apt to view a diverse workplace as “cooler” and more reflective of the world at large. To this group, disabilities are just another diverse segment of society – one that does things differently but still gets the job done.
    1. They speak up. Gen-Yers are the first generation of special-education students with individualized learning plans at school. With the confidence instilled in them in the classroom, they’ll speak up about their specific workplace needs, such as any assistive technologies they might need. This facilitates an easier on-boarding and accommodation process for employers.
    1. They appreciate structure. Millennials like regular hours and clear goals while they’re at work, which helps you manage them better. Workers with disabilities are known to be among the most loyal group of workers, with low absenteeism and turnover rates. With all of these qualities, they’ll fit right into your workplace and become model employees.
    1. They desire flexibility. Flexible arrangements like telecommuting and open schedules truly benefits workers with physical disabilities, such as wheelchair users and others who cannot drive. Today’s Millennials desire flexibility too, and are proving that you don’t have to be in the office to be productive. With telecommuting, you might not ever know your worker has a disability.
  1. They’re good with technology. Gen-Yers are an extremely tech-savvy, multi-tasking bunch and are connected all over the world by email, instant messages, text messages, and the Internet. Workers with disabilities are similar; most use technology everyday at work and home, as well as specialized equipment that gives them access to items like computers and books. They’ll be more than adept in utilizing your tech tools to maximize their productivity.

Millennials are a new breed that’s changing the way a workplace operates. As companies make their workplaces more appealing to this young generation, they’re also making it easier to employ people with disabilities. So fire up Facebook, and let the hiring begin!

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Author: Suzanne Robitaille

Suzanne Robitaille is the founder of abledbody.com, a website on disability issues. She is the former assistive technology columnist for BusinessWeek.com, giving rise to her fascination with technology that helps people with disabilities surmount barriers in the workplace and life space. She is also the author of The Illustrated Guide to Assistive Technology & Devices. As a writer and blogger, Suzanne is a trusted source of disability information for The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, HealthDay, Media Post, Ability Magazine, Disaboom and more. Suzanne lost her hearing at age four and grew up profoundly deaf. In 2002 she received a cochlear implant, which she credits as "the ultimate assistive technology."