Weber Shandwick: Millennials care - obsessively - how they're seen at work

So much for the stereotype that Millennials are worry-free about the workplace. A study from Weber Shandwick released today found that seven in 10 care more about their professional reputation than their social media prominence.

Image via Rowan Farrell / ITU Pictures; used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Cropped from original.
Image via Rowan Farrell / ITU Pictures; used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Cropped from original.

NEW YORK: Who says Millennials don’t care how they’re perceived at the office?

Millennials are so concerned with their work reputation that 70% said they care more about it than their standing on social media, according to a study released Thursday morning by Weber Shandwick and the Institute for Public Relations.

That puts Millennials slightly behind older generations – 73% of Generation X and 72% of Baby Boomers – who value their reputation among their colleagues more than that on social media.

Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist at Weber Shandwick, said that while many assume Millennials live their lives "totally online," the results of the survey show the importance the generation puts on face time both in and out of the office. Sixty-four percent also said courteousness is a positive reputational building block, demonstrating their "Boomer parents made a good impression," she added.

The online survey polled 600 adults working in the US. It also found that nearly half (47%) of Millennials spend "all or most of their time" thinking about their work reputation, compared with 37% of Generation X and 26% of Baby Boomers.

Nearly six in 10 (59%) Millennials said it only takes a few months in a new position for a work reputation to be established, a sentiment shared by 54% of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.

To the end of establishing a positive work reputation, 81% cited the importance of "doing a good job," 65% cited punctuality, and 64% mentioned courteousness. They also stressed the importance of hard work, with 48% mentioning adding to one’s workload and 38% cited working after hours as being important to a good reputation.

Factors that can lead to a bad reputation include poor performance (83%), tardiness (73%), speaking unkindly about colleagues (68%), and gossiping about coworkers (64%), according to the study. Seventy percent of respondents noted that "not being helpful or collaborative" could lead to a poor reputation.

Most Millennials also know where to draw the line separating social media from work. Fifty-nine percent said complaining about work online is a bad move, and only 12% cited social media activity as important to their job.

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