Millennials: Friend or foe?

Millennials. The most talked about generation since, well, since ever. They are the children of the wealthy, healthy and active baby boomer generation of the 60s. This Generation Y came from parents who experienced the explosion of consumerism, leading many to refer to millennials as self-centred, narcissistic and entitled. But whilst these blanket terms may be founded in some degree of truth (or not…), it’s worth saying that this generation of eager, tech-savvy and educated youngsters will be leading the future.

So is the millennial a friend or foe? It doesn’t matter. It’s time to take them seriously. By 2025, this generation of go-getters will make up 75% of the workforce so it’s worth taking a look at how each generation is perceived and how they fit in.


Where’s the focus?

Millennials are not money focused like their parents might have been. A survey by LinkedIn showed that to hire a millennial the most important thing wasn’t money but a compensation package. And it’s all about doing something for a greater cause and doing something good and valuable.  If these guys and girls can find a job they’re passionate about, they’ll stay.

So when interviewing a millennial, really get down to what gets them ticking. Find out what they get up to outside of work. Learn about their desires and passions. This is vital. The downside to this is that millennials may just leave if they’re not finding their work fulfilling enough. After all 61% of millennials are worried about the state of the world and feel responsible to make a difference. There might be long term loyalty with boomers but a high salary won’t be enough to retain a millennial. Make sure that when hiring a millennial to think this through.

Adapting to change

Millennials are tech savvy. Growing up in the 90s and 2000s has meant they’ve seen computer technology develop from its humble beginnings into what it is today: a force to be reckoned with. They’re efficient and are quick to adapt. Whilst it might be great news for startups and young tech companies, it means they’re dependent.

65% of them say losing their phone would have a larger negative impact on their life than losing their car. Slightly dramatic? Perhaps. But it shows the importance of technology in the lives of digital natives. The Internet goes down? Commence freak out. A lot of millennials know how to use technology but when it goes down, they might have a tough time figuring out a workaround. But this doesn’t prevent them from being one of the most entrepreneurial groups yet.

The social network

Boomers are well connected. They may not be all over social media like Twitter and Instagram like millennials but they’ve been around the world a little longer, making and growing their real life network. Years getting know to colleagues and people, nurturing their connections.  Millennials’ relationships are slightly more transient, perhaps even socially awkward. Take this seriously as their robust network has been grafted over time and it is strong and most likely reliable.  

Yet, it is the millennials who are using social media to leverage opportunities much more than their boomer counterparts. Don’t take this point lightly either. 56% of millennials said they would refuse a job if the company denied social media access.

Although this instant communication has lead millennials to expect results fast, especially in a world of constant contact and interconnectedness. When a page takes more than 30 seconds to load, frustrations can arise. Millennials have been called lazy, is it justified?

Take them seriously

Whether or not you’re a fan of millennials, by 2025 they will make up the majority of the  workforce. They may have inherited a difficult landscape but they’re quick to change and adapt well. Their penchant for social media and tech literacy means they know what they’re doing. They think of newer and ingenious workaround to save money in this struggling economy. With the advent of services like Airbnb and Eatwith, it shows millennials are fostering and nurturing a sense of community, propagated by the idea of sharing. Not bad when you consider Airbnb is now worth 25 billion.

Having a mixture of millennials and boomers on your team can bring it a lot of success. This is the most diverse generation ever. Many of them are children of immigrants and there lies the value. But it is what we can learn from this group of digital natives that is important because they are going to be leading us into the future.