Surprise! Millennials Prefer Face-to-Face not Facebook

New USC, London Business School and PwC Study Identifies Generational Workplace Communication Styles

October 14, 2013

Because Millennials live and breathe technology, most people assume that they would prefer to communicate through technology whenever they can—even in the workplace. A new study reveals that in fact, this is not the case. Studying survey data collected from over 40,000 people worldwide in 22 different countries, researchers at the Center for Effective Organizations at the USC Marshall School of Business and London Business School, in conjunction with PricewaterhouseCoopers, outlined the communication preferences across the generations.

In their personal lives, Millennials are much more likely than Gen Xers to use instant messaging (39 percent and 24 percent), texting (59 percent and 39 percent) and social network sites (67 percent and 49 percent)And while it seems to many supervisors that social media is a language of preference (as social media conventions have crept into professional written communications authored by Millennial and younger generations), it turns out that at work, Millennials and Gen X are ‘old school.’ For communicating with colleagues, both generations overwhelmingly chose face-to-face meetings as the top choice (80 percent and 78 percent). Similarly, over 80 percent of both generations said that communicating through face-to-face meetings is critically important to maintaining relationships at work – the highest rating of all, and greater than phone, email, instant messaging, texting, social network sites and video chat.

Even more striking are the results for communications related to performance evaluations, career planning, and compensation. When asked to rank how they would prefer to communicate with their immediate supervisor about their performance evaluation, both generations overwhelmingly choose face-to-face meetings (93 percent and 92 percent). Ninety-six percent of Millennials, and 95 percent of Generation Xers demonstrated a preference for face-to-face meetings with supervisors regarding career plans and progress; 82 percent of both Millennials and Gen Xers preferred in person conversations when discussing compensation.