Millennials 101
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If your business is not connected to focusing on Millennials, you should be aware of some basic knowledge of this growing generation of consumers and workers to better prepare your business in this changing market. In April 2016, the Millennial generation surpassed the population of Baby Boomers in the USA (77 million vs. 76 million in 2015 data) according to Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation, Pew Research

Millennials surpass Gen Xers as the largest generation in U.S. labor force, Pew Research

Brian Scudamore, Forbes, points out, “The business world is obsessed with Millennials right now – and for good reason: In less than 10 years, they’ll make up 75% of the workforce. Known for being bright and adaptive, it makes smart business sense to target this next generation.”

John Foley, Oracle, writes, “The new generation of consumers, who are also the next wave of employees, are more tech savvy than earlier generations. “Companies are selling to consumers who are innovating like crazy,” Hurd [Oracle CEO] said. “Millennials are much tougher customers and much more demanding employees.”

What is a Millennial?

Neil Howe and and the late William Strauss first used the term in their book, Millennials Rising published in 2000.

There is some confusion on when the Millennial generation begins and ends. For example, the Urban Dictionary says, “Millennial is an identity given to a broadly and vaguely defined group of people. There are two wings of “Millennial” that are often at odds with each other: Generation Y (people born between 1981-1991) and Generation Z (born between 1991-2001). People of Generation Y often have characteristics similar to Generation X, which is why Generation Z will confuse Generation Y with Generation X and then claim to be the generation that represents “MIllennial,” when in fact, birth years for Millennial range from about 1981-2001, just as the birth-years for Baby Boomers ranged from 1946-1964.”

So it is generally accepted that Millennials (aka, Generation Y or Z) are the next generation after Generation X. Wikipedia says “Generation X is a relatively smaller demographic cohort sandwiched between two larger demographic cohorts, the baby boomers and the millennials.”

However, Generation Z (also known as The Founders, Post-Millennials, Plurals, Homeland Generation or the 9/11 Generation) is the demographic cohort usually associated after the Millennials. This is because there are no universal standard determining the dates when this generation begins and ends. The Urban Dictionary writes that Generation Z is ”The generation born completely within the technological age, war on terror, and multiculturalism. This generation is the first true global culture as their characteristics and trend is more uniform across the globe as they become the most open minded generation to date.”

The Atlantic attempts to define the years more clearly due to a fight between The New York Times and Slate regarding the confusion.

Depending on what dates you choose the order of these generations are:

Baby Boomers  > Generation X > Generation Y > Generation Z
1946 to 1964    > 1965 to 1984  > 1982 – 2004   > ?

What does all this mean for your business?  You should be aware that what works for the Baby Boomers may not work for the Millennials whether you are focusing as a consumer or as an employer. What will help you understand this generation better?

Careful Using the Term
Lindsay Pollak, Millennial Workplace Expert, says that unlike Baby Boomers who have no problem being identified by their generation moniker, Millennials don’t like to be called Millennials, and prefer to not be identified with a particular generation, so you have to be careful using the term. The poll “that almost half of millennials are comfortable with their generational moniker” and the other half are sensitive to being identified by this term was conducted by Pew Research Center, so you can be comforted that you have a fifty/fifty chance of raising an eyebrow calling someone a millennial. The sensitivity to using this term is the result of the negative connotations associated with its use, such as ‘entitled’ or ‘lazy.’ This same poll reveals, “Gen Xers and Millennials are far more skeptical in assessing the strengths of their generations. And Millennials, in particular, stand out in their willingness to ascribe negative stereotypes to their own generation: 59% say the term “self-absorbed” describes their generation, compared with 30% among Gen Xers, 20% of Boomers and just 7% of Silents.” “While 59% of Millennials describe the members of their generation as self-absorbed, 49% say they are wasteful and 43% describe them as greedy. On all three dimensions, Millennials are significantly more critical of their generation than older age cohorts are of theirs.”

So what you can learn from this is what Lindsay points out, “it’s probably not a good idea to market your product or company using the phrase ‘millennial-friendly.’ ”

Generation Y is the same as the Millennial Generation and may be a better term to use, but the facts are that many do not associate Generation Y with the Millennial Generation which is by far the most widely accepted moniker for this generation and is easily understood in an everyday conversation.

Training Costs for a Millennial
A whitepaper by Microsoft says, “According to industry sources, the average cost to recruit an entry-level hire (generally from the Gen Y age category) ranges from $3,000 to $6,000.” This same paper says, “it costs approximately $24,000 or more to replace a Gen Y employee. Therefore, the cost associated with turnover easily exceeds the cost to recruit—in fact, it’s more than four times the price.” So is it worth your while to understand the Millennial generation better because it affects your bottom line.  

“According to our Best Places to Work Survey in 2006, 47% of employers said that their new college hires received more than 100 hours of training in the first year, indicating an even higher cost for training new entry-level hires.”  Microsoft White Paper

One of the training courses needed for a millennial that keeps coming up is face to face communication skills as well as voice phone communication skills. As Jackie Crosby, Star Tribune puts is, “They would rather fire off an instant message or text to someone sitting in the next cube … than walk over and talk.”  Training in verbal communication skills and etiquette may be something to consider for your employee training especially if the job requires face to face or phone voice skills. Business Insider explains, “For a generation who spent the hours after school Instant Messaging, calling can feel foreign — and presumptuous.”  Training in verbal communication is needed.

As Shift Disruptive eLearning explains, “Ongoing online training, mentoring and coaching is crucial to attracting top millennial workers and keeping them. Over a third of this generation said they would be more interested in an employer if they offer exceptional training and development opportunities.” Using videos in training is preferred over live session training.

Customer Marketing and Support

Millennials prefer text messaging over email or voice calls. So if your company has some sort of customer support, you may want to consider switching to online support and text message marketing rather than voice calls.

“Sixty-five percent of all consumers and 69 percent  of Millennials say that they feel good about themselves and the company they are doing business with when they resolve a problem without talking to customer service.” Aspect

Less Likely to Move
“Americans are moving at the lowest rate on record, and recently released Census Bureau data show that a primary reason is that Millennials are moving significantly less than earlier generations of young adults.” Richard Fry, Pew Research Center

More Common to Live with Parents
“Today’s young adults are also more likely to be at home for an extended stay compared with previous generations of young adults who resided with their parents, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. census data.” Richard Fry, Pew Research Center

Millennials More Educated
“Four-in-ten Millennial workers ages 25 to 29 had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2016, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Current Population Survey data. That compares with 32% of Generation X workers and smaller shares of the Baby Boom and Silent generations when they were in the same age range.”

Job Hopping
Contrary to what you may think, “Millennial workers, those ages 18 to 35, are just as likely to stick with their employers as their older counterparts in Generation X were when they were young adults, according to recently released government data.”  Richard Fry, Pew Research Center

Millennial Women Waiting Longer to Give Birth
“While they now account for the vast majority of annual U.S. births, Millennial women are waiting longer to become parents than prior generations did.” Gretchen Livingston, Pew Research Center

Millennial Women Equal Pay and Opportunity
“Among Millennial women, 75% say this country needs to continue making changes to achieve gender equality in the workplace, compared with 57% of Millennial men. Even so, relatively few young women (15%) say they have been discriminated against at work because of their gender.”

“While there is a general perception, especially among women, that men have an unfair advantage when it comes to wages and hiring, relatively few working adults report these types of gender biases at their own workplace.”

“Three decades ago, U.S. women overall made 64% as much as men did in hourly earnings. In 2012, they made 84%—a remarkable narrowing of the gender gap in pay, as well as an illustration of its persistence.”  On Pay Gap, Millennial Women Near Parity – For Now, Pew Research Center

Partisan and Ideological Differences
“There has been little change since 2000 in other partisan and ideological categories, although the share saying they do not lean to either party is smaller today (11%) than in the early 2000s (17% in 2000). Shiva Maniam and Samantha Smith, Pew Research Center

Birthplace Not As Important to National Identity
“Across a number of countries that are wrestling with the politics of national identity, younger people are far more likely than their elders to take an inclusive view of what it takes for people to be truly considered “one of us” – whether the measure is being born in their country, sharing local customs and traditions or being Christian. Bruce Stokes, Pew Research Center

Less Religious
“By some key measures, Americans ages 18 to 29 are considerably less religious than older Americans, according to a new report released by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Fully one-in-four are unaffiliated with any particular faith.” Pew Research