millenials goldfish attention span
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Are millennials’ short attention spans the best thing ever?

8 Dec 2016

They may have shorter attention spans than goldfish, but millennials are worth holding onto in the workplace. Their short attention spans just might be the best thing about them.

According to LinkedIn economist Guy Berger, millennials are moving between companies much more frequently than their predecessors.

“Over the last 20 years, the number of companies that people worked for in the five years after they graduated has nearly doubled. People who graduated between 1986 and 1990 averaged more than 1.6 jobs, and people who graduated between 2006 and 2010 averaged nearly 2.85 jobs,” said Berger.

One of the first things we think of in relation to millennials is that they have short attention spans. In fact, they’ve been proven to have shorter attention spans than goldfish.

And with more than three-quarters of younger employees planning to move jobs in the next two years, how do their short attention spans affect the workplace?

For one thing, millennials crave personal growth. Their short attention span means they’ll outgrow you before you outgrow them, which is better than it sounds.

Millennials are less likely to become workplace prisoners, which would end up costing you money. They seek challenges, changing responsibilities and career progression, which in turn, will add value to your company.

Another positive to millennials is their ability to multitask. The same report from Microsoft last year that informed us of the less than stellar attention spans of millennials also told us that multitasking has improved.

The study said: “[Millennials are] better at identifying what they want/don’t want to engage with and need less to process and commit things to memory.”

This would argue that millennials’ short attention spans aren’t a sign of not being able to retain anything, but rather, an ability to process information faster – cherry-picking what they deem important.

Therefore, in theory, millennials are able to work faster and on a number of different things at once, which can make them more productive and valuable.

They’re also more flexible, being able – and sometimes preferring – to juggle several projects, meaning you can throw something at them in the midst of other tasks and they will prioritise effectively.

Millennials also highly value the latest technological tools. With the younger employees set to take over the workforce, companies and organisations will be forced to stay on top of the latest in tech to retain these millennial employees.

In fact, their goldfish attention spans mean that they may be harder to hold onto in general, so employers will need to put more work into attracting young, new talent retaining what they already have.

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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