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Millennials See Face-to-Face Networking as More Important to Building their Work Reputations than Older Generations: Weber/IPR Study

Cheerful discussionAlthough Millennials have grown up in the Digital Age, they place even greater value on their in-person interactions at work and after hours than their older, less digitally-bred colleagues. In fact, nearly half of Millennial participants in a new PR survey say they think about their reputations at work all or most of the time—especially when it comes to networking and socializing on the job—compared to 37 percent of Gen Xers and 26 percent of Baby Boomers, according to new research from Weber Shandwick and the Institute for Public Relations (IPR).

What Builds a Positive Reputation at Work?
While job performance and punctuality top the list of reputation builders at work for all the generations surveyed, networking and socializing during off hours are more important to Millennials than any other generation. Thirty-four percent of Millennials see meeting with colleagues outside the office as a positive driver of their work reputation, compared to 14 percent of Gen Xers and 15 percent of Boomers.

“Hanging out with colleagues after work might have been a nice way to kick back for a Gen Xer, but for Millennials it’s a critical component of building their ‘rep’ or ‘brand’ at work and they take it seriously,” said Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist at Weber Shandwick, in a news release. “Our research shows that more than any other generation, Millennials believe that in addition to doing a good job, it’s important to connect with colleagues to build their careers and create lasting impressions.”

Millennials also place a higher value on building and maintaining a positive digital presence as a reputation booster at work compared to the other generations. Seven in 10 U.S. adult workers who report to be social media users say that their work reputation is more important than their social media reputation. However, one in five Millennials (21 percent)—more than any other generation—believe both their work and social media reputations are equally important.

“In today’s digital world, it’s nearly impossible to keep your work and personal lives completely separate. Millennials give greater weight than other generations to their digital and in-person reputations, which shows the influence of having grown up digital,” Gaines-Ross said.

What Can Hurt Your Reputation at Work?
When it comes to behavior that can harm one’s reputation at work, Millennials are less aware than their older cohorts how hearsay and feeding the grapevine can damage their reputations. Millennials are less likely to see the danger in saying negative things about coworkers than GenXers and Boomers (64 percent vs. 74 percent vs. 79 percent, respectively) and engaging in gossip about colleagues (64 percent vs. 72 percent vs. 74 percent, respectively). Millennials are also more likely to believe that not socializing with colleagues outside of work can hurt their reputations (20 percent compared to 7 percent for Boomers).

“Millennials place a greater value on the importance of in-person interactions and relationship building than GenXers and Boomers,” said Sarab Kochhar, Ph.D., Director of Research at Institute for Public Relations, in the release. “Overall, our research demonstrates how level-headed Millennials are about building their reputations at work based on good job performance, being on time and being polite and courteous.”

More than one in three employed Americans today is a Millennial, an astounding 53.5 million people. During the first quarter of 2015, this generation surpassed Generation X as the largest share of the American workforce, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Weber Shandwick and IPR partnered with KRC Research to conduct Millennials@Work: Perspectives on Reputation to find out what the three generations currently in the workforce—Millennials (ages 18 to 34), Gen Xers (35-50) and Boomers and beyond (51+)—think about their reputations at work. Six hundred employed U.S. adults were interviewed through an online survey for the study.

Source: PR Newswire; edited by Richard Carufel

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