Want to understand the younger generation? Just play Grand Theft Auto 5.
In the recently released video game, one of the young adult characters in the game stretches out on his bed playing--what else?--a video game. His 40-something father has no patience for his son's laziness and throws a chair into the HDTV. Ouch. He apologizes, and the two of them go analog by taking a long bike ride.
The game is a social commentary. The great irony is that it's a violent, caustic, and sexually perverse video game making a point about playing too many video games. (It also has an incredibly detailed storyline and rich characters.)
According to the game--and society at large--millennials are digitally obsessed, lazy, and they watch too much TV. But that's not the full picture.
In a recent survey conducted by the talent management firm called Cornerstone OnDemand, millennials said they are overwhelmed by our "always on" society. In fact, 60 percent said they prefer face-to-face interactions for collaboration over digital meet-ups. Forty-one percent of millennials said they are overly inundated with information compared to 31 percent for older workers.
These stats could be good news for tech start-ups. Here's why: the younger generation is in a better position to cut through the tech hype and focus more on the end goal. Because they were raised in the digital realm they are better at seeing the flaws.
Over the past few years, I've worked with many young adults in various capacities. I've encountered their entitlement before, their complaints about low pay and long work hours. Yet, from what I've seen, they often have a better handle on the big picture when it comes to technology. It's hard to impress them with technology--and that's a good thing when you're thinking of hiring a millennial.
Here's one example. A friend of mine who is almost 30 helped me test out a Chevy Volt recently. I'm admittedly a bit enamored by this car, which can go 35 miles on a charge and switch over to the gas engine for another 200 miles. My friend cut through the sludge: would he ever have time to re-charge the car at night and then again during the day? He said he'd buy a Nissan Leaf if it meant less time being plugged in (that car goes 100 miles on a charge).
In my experience, millennials will ask the question "why" before they ask "what" or "how" because they want to get right to the point. They want to know if something is worth the investment first rather than diving in just because you tell them it's a good idea.
That's exactly the kind of fresh perspective you need if you're developing a new app and why hiring a millennial makes sense. Maybe you're not ready to have one lead your entire marketing effort or the sales team. But don't be afraid to give them a chance to push your company ahead. They might just point out the one thing that really needs to change.