No, not the millennium. That’s over and done with. I’m talking about the millennials, the generation of workers born roughly between 1977 and 1995, also known as Generation Y, who represent the biggest shift in the U.S. workforce since the baby boomers came of age.

According to BNET, they are eighty-million strong, and will soon account for the majority of American workers, especially as boomers start to retire. As Andrew Tilin writes in his 7-part series, Managing Millennials: A BNET Survival Guide, this generation will be forcing a cultural shift on companies and managers.

So what kind of change? According to Tilin:

These workers are change agents who may force you to rethink and improve your methods of recruiting, training, and management – the lifeblood elements of your company. They’re accustomed to working away from their desks, using everything from library computers to smartphones and laptops. They got intense and individualized mentoring from teachers and coaches, and they were never told that their elders should intimidate them. “The world is a flat hierarchy to these kids,” says Peter Johnson, director of admissions at the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “Whether you think it’s a good or bad thing doesn’t really matter. It’s a market condition.”

Many companies have realized they need to change with the times: UPS has begun to abandon its training manuals for hands-on learning in staged neighborhoods; Deloitte empowers its middle managers to offer flexible scheduling to their team members, and Google bypasses corporate hierarchy by making its brightest new millennials managers and granting them direct access to the company’s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Take a look at the series to learn how to attract and hire the best and brightest millennials, how to close the generation gap, and how to wrangle a few of the more common under-30 personality types.

[Editorial note: This piece originally posted with a typo. The millennials are Generation Y not X. It’s was a typo, not an unfamiliarity with the facts.]

Bottom line for IT leaders

The millennials are heading into the work force. Be prepared for some of the drawbacks they may bring, as well as to be able to appreciate the positive changes they will force.