The Misunderstandings About Millennials

Jun 27, 2018

The Misunderstandings About Millennials

I’ve had a chance to observe Millennials at close range in their natural environments. My work places me smack in the middle of a sea of young people, all striving for success. I can see how important relationships are to them, and I understand that what they see as important—like how the companies they work for and the brands that they consume should positively impact the world and society—is often out of sync with where they are today. Many just seem out of sync period.

More Psychographic Than Demographic

In an article in Forbes Magazine this May, writer Lauren deLisa Coleman reports on the changing nature of today’s Millennials. Many people, especially employers, are unsure of how to treat and better understand this large block of workers. She says: “Millennials can’t seem to get a break. They are said to be either too lazy or too disruptive. They are either all flocking to the suburbs, oh wait, no, to the city or some other various homogenizations. This 80+ million demographic is a mystery to most in business precisely because the vast majority of people believe that Millennials act as a monolith, and nothing could be farther from the truth.” Whatever you may think personally, the sheer numbers are influencing thinking and behavior throughout all age segments and has us talking and conversing about things like Bitcoin, AI, Growth Hacking and the upcoming Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0. As the chart below shows the breakdown of age groups, it is also a reminder that we’re all human and individuals and we all now have access to all information faster and easier than ever before. It’s no wonder there’s an influence occurring.

  • The Silent Generation: Born 1928-1945 (73-90 years old)
  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 (54-72 years old)
  • Generation X: Born 1965-1980 (38-53 years old)
  • Millennials: Born 1981-1996 (22-37 years old)
  • Gen Z: Born 1997-Present (0-21 years old)

New research from Deloitte says young workers are anxious and down on business. They are uneasy, pessimistic and concerned. These are the critical findings of the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey, which explores the views of 10,455 millennials and 1,844 Gen Z respondents around the globe. The Gen Z respondents skew to the oldest part of the cohort. Highlights from the survey include the following:

There is no doubt that confidence in corporate America might be waning when it comes to delivering something that this age group thinks is important. It could be that the decline comes from being told one thing and seeing another; or a simple overpromise without concrete commitment.

None of these stats is at 100%. I think that they are all important, but not necessarily universal for this cohort as a whole. Otherwise, we might be seeing percentages in the 90’s.

This relates to an earlier point that the actual does not jive with the perception. It may not be enough for employers to state their goals—they have to actually deliver. Additionally, they have to merchandise their efforts lest the audience forgets. 

This is a frightening stat for employers, given the high cost of training and recruiting. This is especially true in creative and professional services where the human component is the actual product. Staying at a job at least five years should be the norm for a thriving services firm, as this is how they can grow their brand value. Anything that can be done to keep them in the fold will pay dividends for sure.

The Millennials are still beginning their careers, and the more they learn, the higher the their value. Here’s Deloitte’s summary:

  • “Perceptions of business have reversed. A stark mismatch persists between what millennials believe responsible companies should achieve and what they perceive businesses’ actual priorities are.
  • Diversity and flexibility is key to loyalty. Good pay and positive corporate cultures are most likely to attract both millennials and Gen Z, but the keys to keeping them happy are diversity, inclusion, and flexibility.
  • Young workers feel unprepared for Industry 4.0. Lacking confidence that they can succeed in an Industry 4.0 environment, young workers are looking to businesses to help them develop the necessary skills, including the “soft” skills they believe will be more important as jobs evolve.”

12 Millennial Minded Trends

Amanda Slavin, CEO and founder of CatalystCreativ, listed 12 trends to look for this year in an article for CMO magazine. It’s worth the read. Her main point is that Millennials are having an impact on everyone else in a big way, and they need to be heard.

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