In the past, I've come down pretty hard on millennials for being self-centered and questioned their claims to be technologically more savvy than previous generations. However, there are six areas where, IMHO, millennials are a distinct improvement:
1. They're more literate.
Prior to the millennials, literature was on the ropes. Book sales were dropping; literacy rates were plummeting. Then along came the millennials, who fueled the sudden explosion of young adult literature: Harry Potter, Hunger Games, etc.
Not only did the millennials practically save the entire book publishing business, they're avid readers online, not just of social media, but on of online publications like the one you're reading this very moment.
2. They're better writers.
As I've previously pointed out, Tweeting and texting (both pioneered by millennials) encourage brevity of expression and therefore clarity of thought. Having grown up with those technologies, millennials are, on average, better writers.
I see this in the email I receive. Millennials get to the point more quickly than previous generations. Even when communicating something naive, they don't waste words. By contrast, Baby Boomers (especially) seem to write in fluent biz-blab.
3. They're less materialistic.
This may be the result of the economy in which they were raised (and the huge student loans many carry) but millennials don't seem to crave material possessions with the avidity as previous generations.
Millennials are less likely to feel the need for a fancy car or a fancy home, are more willing share transportation and living space and are more likely to seek out and value a fulfilling job, rather than taking a high-paying job just for the paycheck.
4. They're less racist and homophobic.
While just as blind to systemic racism as previous generations, millennials are far less likely to believe in white supremacy and other whack-a-doodle racist theories. For example, they almost universally accept inter-racial dating and marriage.
Same thing with homophobia. While previous generations seem oddly fascinated with labeling and controlling the sexual behavior of other adults, millennials are definitely of the "live and let live" persuasion.
5. They're better educated.
Thanks to the commitment of the Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers to provide (or at least sell) a college education to as many people as possible, the millennials are by all measures the best educated generation of all time.
Millennials hold the highest rates of high school graduation, the highest rate of college graduation and the highest rate of masters and doctorates degrees. Yes, they've been saddled with insane levels of debt, but that money wasn't entirely wasted.
6. They're more skeptical.
While millennials are just as likely as previous generations to believe in God, they're less likely to spend money and time on organized religion. Perhaps because they're better educated, they simply aren't as gullible as generations past.
In business, this skepticism plays itself out as being less likely to believe standard corporate BS and less likely to be conned into get-rich schemes. (They're not big on MLMs, for instance.) Millennials value candor and are thus harder to fool.