I’ve been reading a lot about Millennials, and – ahem – being more of a Generation X person myself, I find the often-touted laundry list of attributes fascinating. At first blush, they appear to be a bit self-absorbed and entitled; but are they really?
- Like excitement, freedom, and flexibility in the workplace
- Want frequent promotions and fast recognition for tasks well done
- Seek instant gratification
- Live at home and stay in school longer than previous generations
- Prefer texting, Instagram, and Snapchat to email and phone calls
- Don’t read magazines, newspapers, or (gasp!) watch much TV. Rather, they consume content from Facebook, Vine, YouTube, Netflix, and other channels
The reality is Millennials now outnumber our Gen X and Boomer cohorts, so instead of criticizing or being skeptical, we should be asking ourselves what can we learn from them? And what does it mean when it comes to communicating, working with, and managing this unique demographic group?
Here are some takeaways:
- Live in the moment. So these Millennials want instant gratification not only in the workplace, but in life? Really, don’t we all? Too many Boomers and GenXers have felt the need to put in tons of extra hours to climb the corporate ladder to earn more money and reach “success.” The result? Burnout, layoffs, and midlife crises. We all need balance to be our best. Do a great job for clients, customers, and companies, but enjoy life to its fullest along the way. Have fun. Not too shabby words of wisdom to live by.
- Less is more in work and life. Millennials are not solely motivated by money. As a group, they value empowerment and recognition for a job well done. Knowing this is key to successfully managing Millennials. Be a model for working in a collaborative workplace where together everyone is stronger. Empower them to run with projects, be creative, and flexible.
- Talk to them on their own terms. Millennials hate voicemail. Don’t leave them one and don’t make them leave you one. They neither like nor do a great job of keeping up with and replying to emails. Instead shoot them a text or IM or offer a quick face-to-face conversation. Let’s face it, none of us can keep up with emails, and it’s only a matter of time before email (and especially voicemail) go the way of the dinosaur. In the meantime, keep emails and communications short and to the point, and use social media tools to communicate. We all will benefit.
- Be fresh with both ideas and approach. No surprise, Millennials prefer a softer sell and more subtle approach to marketing. Think targeted marketing on steroids. They’re okay with sponsored advertising, but make sure it’s a message they can relate to – and more importantly – make sure they’re brands, goods, and services they’re interested in (and heaven forbid, not a Polident or Viagra ad). Communicate frequently, openly, transparently, and briefly.
- Be flexible. Be open. Embrace a diverse workplace.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what else can we learn from Millennials. How do we as communications and marketing professionals change our messaging and strategies? Share your stories and advice in the comment section below.