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In this, the first of a series exploring the kind of archetypal personalities that businesses should be taking note of in the next few years, Megan Bernstein takes a look at the millenials. While it’s undoubtedly one of the most contested generational labels out there, as holistic branding agency ITI notes it’s worth remembering that there are a couple of mega-trends that can be applied to people of this age group.
First up: The millennial
When I was at varsity learning about the different generations, millennials always seemed to be referred to as the kids of the time — the new generation. But to be honest, my graduating class was actually completely made up of this particular archetype — and we didn’t even know it.
Millennials are anyone born between 1980 and the early 2000s. How do you recognise them? Simple. They are the ones constantly on their smartphones, taking selfies, posting pretty much everything on Facebook, and those hipster ‘kids’ you see riding bikes and sipping boutique coffee and craft beer.
The new workforce
But to be less stereotypical, these are really the next generation in the work force and are mixing things up. They challenge traditional structure, order and authority within businesses and want to make their mark. They have an inherent need to be different, stand out and be noticed.
Why? Well many of them entered the working world during one of the biggest recessions. They are also part of the generation that has more graduates entering the market place than ever before, so they are learning about rejection from a very early age. Unlike their parents, if they studied hard and got a degree they are not guaranteed a job.
Shift in mindset
And so we’re seeing a lot more entrepreneurs and startup business people from this archetype – either because they can’t get a job, or because they have the mindset that they don’t want to work for someone else.
So if you have a millennial in your team it’s important to let them voice their opinions and make suggestions. The label ‘wet behind the ears’ doesn’t apply to them, and often because of their access to so much information they are pretty on strat. They have immersed themselves in content from such an early age, on such an intense level, that they’re more likely to know about the latest change or shift in the market that their Gen X boss.
Not the traditional employee
Because millennials challenge authority they are not complacent, and are unlikely to fall into traditional positions. They are creating new positions, changing their roles and probably getting on the nerves of many baby boomers in their companies.
But at the same time, they don’t see their youth as a barrier. In earlier generations, age defined your role and how quickly you moved up. We are now seeing millennials moving up the ranks faster than ever before, and many sitting alongside their older counterparts making important business decisions.
It’s about the now
These are the people who are changing how we communicate and consume content, and are setting the trends for generations to come. They’re all about instant gratification. So don’t expect them to wait a whole week for the new episode of The Walking Dead to come on TV – they’re more likely to download the full series and binge watch.
If they order something online, don’t expect them to wait a week for their delivery. They want it now and they want it fast. And that mindset translates into how they conduct business and making life decisions.
Social business is important
Millennials are moving back into urban cities, and while their parents would be horrified at living in a space barely big enough to swing a cat in, they are quite content with this. They want to feel connected – to the city and the people around them.
Life logging and creating a digital record is also extremely important to this archetype. As an employer or an organisation it’s important to allow them the freedom to do this and let it overlap into their working lives.
Social business models such as Yammer, company or department WhatsApp groups, your business Facebook page or Twitter account will be important to them and they will see this as a valid means of communication – possibly a lot more valued than traditional methods like email and phone calls. In fact, if you want to talk to a millennial, don’t call them on the phone. Rather send them a message and call a meeting.
Millennials value relationships and like to feel valued, but often these relationship start off in the online space.
Because digital communication is so inherent to their way of living, by engaging with the organisation, their colleagues or even clients online means that they feel a lot more connected and part of the team.
The bottom line is that millennials are connected and feel lost without this connectivity. As a business owner or manager, it’s important to understand this fact and possibly look at changing traditional work practices to something a little more hipster.