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Managing Millennials

May 15, 2018

Board & Executive

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Managing Millennials: Managing the Cyber Habits of Your Youngest Employees

We seemingly spend all day at work updating our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a half dozen other social media services that our colleagues have never even heard of. We can’t stop staring at our smartphones for a single second, even during important meetings. And we can  appear incapable of carrying on an in-person conversation; we prefer to communicate solely through email and text.

Who are these peculiar creatures? And how are you supposed to handle our strange cyber habits?

We’re millennials, and we're rapidly revolutionizing your organization’s electronic culture – for better and worse.

Millennials: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly  

I’m a proud, card-carrying member of the millennial generation – a group that’s becoming an increasingly large percentage of the labor pool.  There are now more millennials in the U.S. labor force than any other generation. Because millennials will make up a whopping 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, companies can no longer ignore the conduct and concerns of this increasingly important cohort.

We’ve all heard the stereotypes about millennials. We’re unreliable. We’re entitled. We’re narcissistic. These cliches all contain a grain (or two) of truth. But my fellow members of the much-maligned millennial generation are already bringing a lot of benefits to your business.

Millennials are cyber natives. They’ve practically emerged from the womb with a laptop in their hands. These tech-savvy employees are indispensable in helping your organization adapt to the digital age. Millennials can also bring fresh ideas and perspectives to your company. They’re not afraid to think outside the box, challenging the stale paradigms that have dominated your industry. Moreover, millennials can have a profoundly positive impact on your company’s culture. Millennials are idealists at heart; their ethos can be essential in helping to shape your companies’ core values. This commitment to corporate social responsibility is critical in an era where consumers are seeking out brands that share their beliefs.

Nevertheless, millennials can also bring their own unique baggage to your business, particularly in the digital domain. A recent report commissioned by Raytheon, Forcepoint and the National Cyber Security Alliance found that millennials believe that cybersecurity is a serious issue, with 83 percent surveyed saying it’s “important, very important or extremely important” to increase cybersecurity awareness programs in the workforce and formal education programs.

Unfortunately, however, this belief does not always translate into actions. More than half of all millennials surveyed said they failed to follow basic cyber hygiene best practices like using two-factor authentication, using unique passwords, and regularly updating software.

Millennials value convenience and flexibility. We blur the lines between our work life and personal life. Millennials like to work from home and take care of personal tasks at work. The hard-line separation between the personal and private spheres present in the perception of boomers is nearly non-existent for millenials. This means having easy access to your organization’s systems on any device, personal or professional, at any time. Yet, this kind of convenience can potentially come at a cost: compromising your organization's cybersecurity.

Managing Millennials’ Cyber Habits

So how can you handle the digital demands of your youngest employees? Here are four tips to keep in mind.

  1. Institute Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. Millennials are trendsetters, and many of them prefer to use their own devices for work. As your employee’s habits change, so too must your digital protocols. BYOD can bring concrete benefits to your business. Studies have shown that BYOD boosts worker productivity and increases employee morale. Nevertheless, if your organization is not careful, BYOD can badly backfire. For instance, millennials are infamously fickle, frequently jumping from job to job. When an employee leaves your organization, you want to make sure that sensitive data doesn’t go out the door with them. Therefore, if you permit employees to use their personal devices for work purposes, be sure you retain the right to remotely wipe them. BYOD is always a delicate balancing act between convenience and security. But with the proper protocols, you can reduce risks while still reaping the benefits of BYOD.

  2. Establish clear social media guidelines. Millennials are notorious oversharers. We like to document our every move – and express our every thought – online. Social media can serve as powerful platforms to promote your organization. However, your employees’ personal posts can also potentially cause significant reputational damage to your company. No executive wants to wake up and see that one of their workers’ distasteful tweets has gone viral. Keep your organization out of the headlines by having explicit rules regulating employees’ online conduct.

  3. Enforce compliance on cyber policies. Cyber protocols can look great on paper, but they need to be put into practice to be effective. The best designed policies are utterly useless if they’re never enforced. Make sure your IT managers are not letting your millennial workers get away with sloppy cyber hygiene or abusing BYOD policies.

  4. Invest in cybersecurity awareness training. Millennials may be tech-savvy, but they don’t always put a premium on security. Millennials make clumsy errors, just like everyone else. Some of this is due to ignorance. The best way to fight cyber ignorance is by implementing awareness training. There’s one potential problem: Cybersecurity awareness training has a reputation of being painfully boring. No one wants to be forced to watch yet another batch of dull compliance slides. But there’s a better way. Seek out training solutions that are not only informative, but are also enjoyable experiences for employees. There are a number of ways to do this, including the use of humor. To be fair, cybersecurity awareness training is never going to be as funny as a Chris Rock stand up special or as visually stimulating as the latest Star Wars film. But it shouldn’t be like getting a root canal, either.

Want to Learn More?

If you would like more help managing the cyber habits of your millennial employees, contact us. Let’s discuss how we can help reduce your organization’s risk while maximizing digital convenience.

Written by Stan Sundel

Stan Sundel is a Product Specialist at CyberVista. He is also an M.A. candidate at Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program. In a previous life, Stan was a journalist for several major television news networks -- where, among other highlights, he helped produce interviews with everyone from Bill Clinton to Big Bird. In his spare time, you can find him playing the drums at jazz jam sessions or checking out a craft beer event. Stan graduated magna cum laude from Brown University, with a BA in History.
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