The U.S. economy is getting better in fits and starts, with the unemployment rate down to 8.2 percent as of May 2012. But amid the headlines of the worst job market in decades, an important demographic shift is underway. As the U.S. workforce ages and the Baby Boomers retire, the so-called “Millennials” are taking their place.

According to the Department of Labor, there will be 49 million baby boomers in the labor force by 2014, down from roughly 59 million in 2010. In contrast, younger workers – those born between 1975 and 1995 – will number 67 million by 2014.

Many organizations need to adapt their business culture to attract and retain this next generation of workers. While Millennials are often unfairly criticized as being “slackers,” in reality they have been hit hard by the recession. They are among the most educated group in American history, and they are concerned about finding a job, supporting themselves and their families, and being satisfied with their careers. And while many boomers lived to work in the early years of their careers, this generation works to live. It’s a generation that works hard and plays hard.

Organizations need to attract this well-educated, tech savvy generation to ensure innovation and success. This is particularly important in industries where job openings are plentiful. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, skills in hot demand include information technology, healthcare, engineering and industrial. Depending on your industry, your business could be in fierce competition for talent.

Millennials have grown up with technology. They are used to high levels of stimulation and are practiced multitaskers. They are at ease with the social media, smartphones and tablets. They text first, and call only when they have to.

They like interaction too, whether that is with their managers, coworkers or customers. The so-called Trophy Generation is accustomed to feedback from parents and coaches, and this translates to the workplace.

Businesses need to consider whether their communications systems are well-suited to the next-generation of workers, or if their aging phone systems and communications practices are becoming a liability. Giving workers the unified communications tools to work at their convenience drives productivity not only for twentysomethings, but for workers of all ages. Supporting a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiative gives workers the flexibility to work from anywhere and the most convenient device, whether that’s a smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Digital transformation has become a top initiative for business and IT leaders. In today’s business world, sustainable market leadership is no longer based solely on which company has the best products or even the best people. Instead, organizations that are agile and can quickly adapt to rapidly evolving market trends will become market leaders.

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