This year the Millennials will surpass the Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation at over 75 million. According to a recent Deloitte Millennial Survey, Millennials, or Gen Y will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. The census bureau defines the millennial generation as those born between 1982 – 2000. They are currently 15 to 33 years old. Until now, the Boomers were the largest generation at about 74 million (GenXers are a much smaller generation at about 65 million). The biggest difference; the Millennials are diverse. Approximately 44% are of a minority ethnicity or race and one in four speak a foreign language at home. This group is also more educated with 22 percent having a college degree, compared to 16% in 1980. Two thirds of this group are now in the workplace. The rest are on their way. If you are a business professional, and are not considering the demographic of the next generation workforce, then you are #behindthetimes or a #dinasourintheworkplace.
In the past month, I conducted a survey at my company regarding outdated policies. The responses included requests for more casual days, flexible scheduling and better recycling bins. All items indicative of the changing work environment. Observations of the employment landscape prompts further discussion of these digital savvy, hashtag workers and it’s our job, as employers and parents, to understand, educate and embrace them.
In doing so, let us keep a few things in mind:
- Be wary of labels. Perceptions across the generations vary. What we think of as tech savvy, may not be to a Millennial. What they think of as relationship building, may not be the same as a Boomer. Millennials have the unfortunate reputation of being helicoptered, entitled and flaky. Talk about these labels with your Millennials and gain direct perspective. Getting on the same page is the first step.
- Millennials grew up with technology. They may have heard of a pound sign, but “#” is part of social media life. Embrace it and move on.
- They will be inherently better at technology, social media, social attitudes and optimism. Use it to your advantage.
- Ask them what motivates. Don’t assume.
- Get used to answering “why” questions. This is a positive. This can expose better ways of doing things.
- Speak the language: BAE, YOLO, epic, really?, LMAO, haha, ttyl, swag, #, emoji’s, memes, etc.
Living and working in harmony is the goal. By exploring information about this workforce, the gap can be bridged. Here is a fun infographic (a tool Millennials love) that offers a 30,000 foot (Boomer term) view.