As the most scrutinized generation in history, it's not surprising that Millennials have been called lazy, entitled, the "next greatest generation" and everything in between. But the irrevocable word that best describes Millennials is...unprecedented.
It's not so much about Millennials themselves as it is about the innovations and other external factors the are converging to make this time in history and this generation truly unprecedented. It's an unprecedented time with unprecedented opportunity for companies and leaders who are positioned to capitalize on the market and work shifts being ushered in by Millennials.
If being the largest generation on the planet, the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, and on the verge of entering decision-making roles and their prime spending years isn't enough to warrant your attention and scrutiny of the Millennial generation, then perhaps these relevant reasons will...
1. Connectivity Convergence
Technology and the Internet are arguably the biggest disruptors in history. It's changed how we live, work, and play. No individual and industry are immune to its disruptive power.
To make matters more disruptive...the Internet, mobile technology, and social media all converged on the largest generation on the planet during Millennials' influential years and during a phase of life where they could experiment with new innovations.
Being connected to an Internet-enabled super computer throughout childhood and early adulthood has changed everything for Millennials and anyone who leads, communicates, or markets to this generation. The change catalyst is not soli Millennials but rather it's ubiquitous connectivity (made possible by the Internet and mobile technology) coupled with Millennials that has and will continue to be the recipe for massive change and disruption for years to come.
Connectivity has been a complete game-changer for this generation. Millennials' values and behaviors are fundamentally different because they have been connected to the world's information and the world's largest amassed network of humans all the while being empowered and encouraged to contribute.
Millennials can efficiently and effortlessly job hop, learn anything, build a personal brand, work anywhere and anytime, shop on the go, launch a business or "side hustle," have a voice, crowd-source major decisions, instantly price compare, build a global network, and more all thanks to connectivity.
2. Elevated Expectations
Today's hyper-connected world and never-ending streams of information have instilled a never-ending appetitive into Millennials for more, better, faster. The effortless and seamless experiences Millennials have routinely encountered throughout their lives has become the new lens of expectations they carry into every brand and employer interaction.
Here are a few examples of the internal dialogue of Millennials when they encounter friction-filled experiences.
- Why do I need to wait in line for my hotel key when Marriott offers to skip the front desk with a mobile key?
- Why do I have to sit through this company training when I could have watched the same content on YouTube?
- Why do I have to interact with a cashier when Amazon Go allows for Just Walk Out technology with no lines and no checkout?
- Why should I remain at this company when Glassdoor displays companies and salaries that are a better fit for me?
Every time technology makes a process or procedure more friction-less, it becomes the new expectation or standard for the generations who have never experienced what it was like before the innovation. Many might argue this is entitlement, but it's not entitlement when it's your only frame of reference...it's an expectation.
The world is shifting and Millennials' expectations have shifted with it.
3. Topical Talent
For the first time in history, there is an emerging generation that has knowledge and skills that previous generations don't possess.
Millennials grew up teaching mom and dad how to troubleshoot a computer, how to download apps, or how to use Facebook. They are the first generation that has entered the workplace ready to contribute using their unique skill sets. (This is also one of the main reasons there is so much workplace friction surrounding Millennials.)
Their talents are topical. In fact, 68 percent of hiring managers agree that Millennials have skills that previous generations don't have.
Now more than ever there is high risk if you ask Millennials to sit the bench and wait their turn because your competitors will leverage their Millennial talent and propel their business into the 21st century.
Millennials still have plenty to learn (don't we all), but not leveraging the unique talents of your organization's future leaders is a mistake.
4. Important Indicators
A sound strategy for predicting what's next for your market or business is understanding Millennial behaviors and trends.
The goal should not be to change for the Millennials but rather change so you can lead, communicate, market, and run your organization like it's the 21st century. Millennials offer the appropriate data points to powerfully influence future decisions.
One example is Snapchat. Seventy percent of Snapchat U.S. users are Millennials. Do you think the generation who uses the image messaging and multimedia mobile application on a daily basis is going to be satisfied with using email at work? Probably not. Which is why the office productivity app positioned to "kill email," Slack, has gained massive appeal with Millennials and now seventy-seven percent of Fortune 100 companies use the service.
Become a student of Millennials and be rewarded with important indicators of the future of work and/or the marketplace.
5. Vast Value
Because Millennials are young consumers and professionals, they inevitably carry a high lifetime value. Whether you're trying to market to Millennial consumers, sell to Millennial B2B buyers, or attract and retain Millennial workers there is tremendous benefit in the long-term value they carry.
It's up for debate how loyal Millennials actually are. What is certain is Millennials' loyalty is up for grabs more frequently than ever before. There is more competing for their time, attention, and wallets than ever before so it's important that you consistently and compellingly stay in front of your Millennial prospects.
Benefit from vast value by nurturing Millennial relationships so that their customer and company loyalty deepens over time.