Millennials are more than just tech-savvy individuals who bemuse older generations with their slang and distinct political views. They are the present and near-future employees and CEOs.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 data, there are 83.1 million Millennials in the U.S., comprising more than a quarter of the country’s population. This generation — defined by the federal agency as those born between 1982 and 2000 — now outnumbers the Baby Boomer generation — an older age group with 75.4 million members, according to the same data set. Millennials also make up the largest share of the American workforce, according to Pew Research Center’s 2015 figures – just surpassing Gen Xers at 53.5 million versus 52.7 million.
So, what sets Millennials apart from their predecessors? Here are five key attributes:
Not only are millennials the largest living population, but they’re also the most diverse. According to the aforementioned U.S. Census Bureau data, 44.2% of millennials are part of a minority race or ethnic group (i.e. groups other than non-Hispanic, single-race white).
Increasing diversity in the workplace offers numerous benefits. Enhanced innovation, heightened creativity, and a better understanding of different consumer markets are just some of the benefits laid out by Entrepreneur. It can also help companies expanding globally to have bilingual or even trilingual staff.
Ben Detofsky, managing director of millennial marketing agency Youth Marketing Connection, characterizes millennials as a “native tech generation.” He says that they thrive in environments where they can be creative and constantly look for new ways to increase productivity and efficiency.
“The more employers can leverage these characteristics to introduce new technology, systems, and ideas to their core business, the better off they’ll be,” he says.
Millennials can work well in teams, but they’re also driven to grow individually.
“The millennials we hire all have a strong work ethic and a real commitment to teamwork that you don’t always see in prior generations,” says Ara Finlayson, director of marketing for young adult marketing agency Fuse. “They also tend to understand the importance of networking, no matter their position within the company.”
Furthermore, Detofsky says that, in his experience, millennials are resourceful and seek out answers to problems they can’t immediately solve.
“They’re very good at jumping right in and figuring out solutions,” he says.
They understand “brand”
It’s easy for marketers to drink their own Kool-Aid and become so engrossed in their brand work that they forget to see it from a consumer perspective. Detofsky says millennials offer a unique viewpoint and have an innate ability to see a brand for what it truly is, not just what it claims to be.
“They see the many layers that make up a company or organization, not just what the company says they are or wants you to see,” he notes. “In the marketing world, it’s incredibly valuable to have team members [who] can quickly provide these insights from a holistic viewpoint. Internally, it’s important for employers to leverage their younger employees to build their own brand.”
They appreciate feedback
Millennials value the guidance that comes with having strong one-on-one relationships with bosses and mentors.
“One of the biggest behavioral differences that we see from, say, the Gen X generation, is the need for almost continual feedback and a vision into a clear career path,” Finlayson says. “They require much more immediate input into their performance: How are they doing? What can be improved? What should be done differently? This is not a bad thing at all, but it may catch some older managers a bit off guard.”
Finlayson admits that providing this constant feedback requires more time and energy; however, she knows that enhancing professional skill sets, such as through training opportunities, is important to this generation—as well as to the company overall.
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