By Charl Jooste
General theory categorizes millennials as people born between 1980 to 2000, although some slight adjustments are made in certain regions. They come hot on the heels of the X Generation, they are the children or grand kids of the BabyBoomers.
Sometimes also known as Generation Y or… Generation Why? For reasons soon to be made clear.
Millennials grew up in an always connected, always online world, they are Tech-savvy. They grew up with different boundaries, different structures and parenting, therefore they are independent thinkers. The interact socially in ways many can not grasp. They talk and even look different. They will challenge and question the realities you have taken for granted for so long, let them. They are entrepreneurial by nature, something companies often suppress, to their detriment. They are educated but often in a less traditional method, they are hungry for knowledge. They are highly ambitious yet respond to rewards and incentives differently to previous generations. The company and their direction, structures and visions are important to them and need to align with their own belief system.
There are many less flattering stereotypes often used. Millennials are unmotivated, disloyal, difficult to manage, have a sense of entitlement, even lazy. Are these labels fair and accurate? Very often these negative perceptions say more about the generation above them, and their approach, than the actual reality of millennial behaviours and attitudes. Do we perhaps just not understand what drives and motivates them? Could they in fact be humble, yet ambitious, inquisitive and hard working? What do they expect? Perhaps the very structures and history that made your company successful is slowly sucking the life (along with creativity and productivity) out of your younger recruits.
These, and many more, are the important questions you need to be asking. It is vital you attract, recruit, engage and retain millennials if you are to succeed into the future. If you do not understand Millennial thinking and motivation, and adapt, you and your business will be left behind while the millennials themselves takeover.
Oh and one more thing, don’t call them Millennials, most of them don’t like that.