Sarah J Hurley

5 Facts Every Compliance Manager Should Know About Millennials: Is Your Business At Risk?

We’ve all heard the stats on Millennials in the workplace. The entitled, everyone-gets-a-trophy generation includes those between the ages of 18-32 [1]and is said to result in countless employees that can be difficult to manage. Did you know, though, that there are some characteristics of the “First Global” generation that could potentially put your business at risk? Here are three facts you should know about this group and how to combat the issue.

  1. Millennials Tend To Be Communitarian.

Millennials are the most diverse and educated generation in history. 67% have active passports and have traveled abroad. They are the first group to consider themselves citizens of Planet Earth as readily and interchangeably as they identify as being American citizens [2], and they are the only group to never reach a majority assertion that the U.S. is superior to other countries[3]. 80% say they want to change the world[4]. This is the first group in history to be so well traveled, support a global framework and worldview, and want to make a difference in it.

Traditional values and nationalism are not held in high esteem. Intellectual Property, be it patented and copyrighted items, or securing company data are viewed through a Communitarian lens. Companies are sometimes seen as the monopolistic oppressor, even in a small business context. With a moralistic value system where a major emphasis is placed on community and what is good for the whole (utilitarianism), this sensitive data is not necessarily viewed as sacred by the millennial. If one thinks the information would better serve the community at large, be it a copyrighted song or movie, or as in the case of Edward Snowden, data, they may not have any reservations about sharing.

  1. Millennials Are Not Company Loyalists

The average Millennial will have 4 different jobs by the age of 30 and 10 different jobs by the age of 40[5]. Gone are the days of blind loyalty and retiring from a lengthy career with the same company. While this trend started with the Gen Xers, the difference is that Generation X would shift companies to advance in their career and catapult their trajectory, whereas many millennials are not motivated by the opportunity for promotion.

What does this mean for your company? With most millennials absorbing a high amount of student debt and entering into a shaky economy and job market, a high emphasis is placed on money[6]. Therefore, there is little to no incentive to think in futuristic terms when it comes to the long-term relationship between employee and employer. Rather, millennials will change entire careers and jobs at a moment’s notice and do, not simply for career advancement, but also as a means of survival. The problem is that not only is employment viewed as temporary, but the corresponding values of the relationship with a long-term employer may be absent, as well. Things such as personal opinions of their employer, private company information, and securing and sharing data may not be at the top of the employee’s list of priorities.

  1. Millennials Are Tech-Savvy

The consulting arm of Ernst and Young performed an online generations study in June of 2013 and found that seventy-eight percent of its respondents identified Millennials as the most “tech-savvy”.[7]  Seventy percent of respondents found them to be the best at using social media[8].  They were also found to be more collaborative.

Millennials were born and raised with cell phones and the internet. They adapt quickly, do not require much training (in actuality, many universities are finding it difficult to keep up with evolving technology), and can often educate their employers on technology and social media, as opposed to the other way around.

This can actually be a plus for a multitude of positions when considering prospective employees from other generations. However, the problem that arises from such characteristics lies in the motivation and intent in which those skills are leveraged. How many companies have thought they had the proper infrastructure in place only to find out too late their data has been compromised?

The Line Between What Is Public And Private Is A Blurry One

Millennials’ lives are played out publicly in social media and the world has never before experienced such a thing. The lines between public and private behavior have become incredibly blurred as what use to be private is generally now on full display for the world to see[9].From bullying to “private” photos, to behavior and personal opinions, these things are now forever recorded in history, like ancient petroglyphs engraved on rock walls, and we have yet to see the full impact of this new way of life.

Remember, Millennials have been online since birth. Information has always been readily accessible with a few keystrokes. They have never seen a card catalog and view the content displayed in the search results of a Google search as public domain. Professors have a hard time getting students to use sources outside of the internet and content is not only shared with others but often done so without giving credit to the individual who published the original work.

  1. Millennials Don’t Like To Be “Sold”

Millennials have been sold to since birth. They grew up being targeted and marketed to by advertisers. They don’t like it, and who can blame them? The result of which sometimes goes beyond a general distrust of big business and turns into corporate activism. When it comes to compliance and corporate security, a disgruntled millennial employee may not only disregard corporate policy offhand but could actively sabotage the company.[10]

It is interesting to note that the entrepreneurial spirit is greater for millennials than previous generations; however, social idealism and communitarianism provide for an interesting dichotomy. In other words, millennials may see the corporate entity, even small business, as untrustworthy entities unless they serve the “greater good”, and they want to play an active role in serving their community and making the world a better place, which are good and worthwhile causes, idealistically speaking. It’s how these things play out practically that can cause issues.

 What Does This Mean For My Company?

All of these factors combine to create the Snowden Effect: Private company information and intellectual property are at risk for downloading and sharing with others. One may have legitimate reasons to infiltrate private, secure data and release it to others while another may be driven by purely selfish or vindictive reasons, but the result is the same: data that was thought to be safe is compromised. We are seeing this more and more. One doesn’t have to look far to find story after story of a security breach in headline news. Is your company safe?


What You Can Do

SmartFile can help.

[1]Edelman Insights, (December 2012), 8095 Refreshed, An insights group studying the Millennial generation, Retrieved from

[2]Zogby, John (2013), The First Globals: Understanding, Managing, and Unleashing Our Millennial Generation, Retrieved from




[6]Edelman Insights, (December 2012), 8095 Refreshed, An insights group studying the Millennial generation, Retrieved from

[7]Baum, John, (October 20, 2013), Managing Millennials: Do The Myths Have Validity (And A Millennial Response), JDSupra – a legal blog, Retrieved from


[9]Miller, Martha (October 21, 2010) Teaching Millennials Some Manners, Illinois Times article, Retrieved from

[10]Zogby, John. “The First Globals: Understanding, Managing, and Unleashing Our Millennial Generation.”(Kuhl, 2013)

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