Mastering The “Millenials”

Communication MilleniasWho are the “Millenials?” They are often referred to as Generation Y, or Generation “Why” according to Eric Chester who defines them thus – as being “better educated, more techno savvy, and quicker to adapt than those who have come before them, they refuse to blindly conform to traditional standards, and time-honoured institutions. Instead, they boldly ask, “Why?” They are also the next generation of boomers on whom businesses will be depending to carry the baton.

The age category of Generation Y is not clearly defined, some say – teenagers to 20-somethings born between 1982 and 2000, while other experts say – between 1978 and 1995. They are the younger siblings of the X Generation who born between the early 1960’s and 80’s, and are the offspring of Baby Boomers.

They are a larger group than X, also referred to as the Peter Pan or “Boomerang” generation. Why Boomerang? Because they went back home to mommy and daddy due to economic difficulties, were loath to get married, or start careers, and delayed traditional adult rites of passage. In comparison to a 75 million strong group of Millenials, Generation X is a mere 40 million, while Baby Boomers were a contingent of 80 million. It is easy to see by the numbers, why this group will be prominent on business workforces, and why it is important to understand how they work.

Also known as the Digital Generation, Boomlets, and Generation Next (amongst other synonyms), the term Generation Y was first coined during the Ad Age – around 1993 – but did not stick. They are defined by Deloitte to be “positioned in history as the next Hero generation”. Some life defining events during their time, that may see heroism bear fruit have been; 9-11, the Iraq War, the Columbine High School shootings, nuclear threat from North Korea, and the experience of China and India come out as emerging nations.

Never having experienced life without computers, the negative consensus is that Millenials are lazy, inconsistent, narcissistic, unrealistic, coddled, and impatient. On the positive side they are entrepreneurial, optimistic, connected – 24/7, independent, goal oriented, both Global and civic-minded, diverse, liberal and inclusive. Interestingly 38% of all “Whys” identify themselves as non-white, believe education is good, parents are role models, value guidance, work well with mentors, and appreciate integrity.

These are the generation that loves a challenge, wants to make a difference, and with whom businesses will be required to engage with, in meaningful communication. It is natural for them to work together in teams (whether with friends or work situations), be innovative thinkers, and thrive on flexibility. However, after a decade of solid generational sociological research, there are some things that the modern business is going to have to come to terms with. Millennials are politically disengaged, and focused on extrinsic values. This means image, money and fame, which leads to another less than complimentary – a.k.a – “Generation Me”.

It is not fair to make judgement anyone, or generalize about an entire generation, especially one which is destined to have the “Y” impact on the World.   But it is becoming as clear as day that we need to understand them, in order to communicate in a way in which is meaningful to all concerned.