The Generations: Gen Y / Millennials

Millennials, also known as Gen Y were born between 1980 and 1994 making them between 24 and 38 years old today.

Millennial Traits

These generational labels only have meaning when compared to the generations that precede or follow them. So using this comparative approach, we can define Millennial traits to the following topics as follows:

The Internet – Millennials remember what the world was like before wi-fi internet connectivity whereas Gen Z have never known the world before wi-fi.

Collaboration – Millennials tend to be collaborative and work in teams well. Older generations do perceive this as a lack of independence.

Facts – For previous generations, facts were durable and a resource in themselves. A fact was worth something. This no longer holds true today and facts are seen as more fluid, open to interpretation. Conversely feelings are now understood to be universal and real. This difference in how the generations view ‘facts’ and ‘feelings’ can explain a lot of the intergenerational misunderstandings.

Content – It is difficult for older generations to understand the importance of a person’s online presence and their content online. Mainstream broadcasting, media and publishing has changed over the decades and is no longer the only source. Each internet user can create their own content on line and find an audience. To Millennials it is just as important as how you portray yourself in the offline world. Everyone can create their own “brand” on the internet. Authoritative information sources from a small range of sources are still the mainstream for older generations, however this is not how younger generations see the world.

Millennials in the workplace

Four hints for Millennials in the workplace:

  1. As a Millenial you are better at non-linear thinking. Jump in with some novel and innovative ideas to old problems or processes.
  2. Help your older colleagues find good information sources on line – getting a sense for how an environmental effect is being discussed over social media can aid how you craft a report to address the concerns the public have.
  3. Be prepared to justify the facts in your work through the proper sources – credentials and citation do matter.
  4. Introduce your colleagues to the latest apps or other forms of automation for basic tasks in the work process.

Working with Millennials in the workplace

Four hints for working with Millennials in the workplace:

  1. Connect with your millennial colleagues over social media – find what social platforms they use – leave a testimonial on their LinkedIn or like their latest thinkpiece or shared news story.
  2. For Gen Zers, let your millennial colleagues impress you with their knowledge of what to do if you find yourselves disconnected from wi-fi. Millennials are the last generation to understand the internet as something you turn on or to when you need it. Now it is always there, intertwined with life.
  3. For Gen X and Baby Boomers, you can insist that Millennial colleagues get the right source materials to cite in their work but balance this with being open to the innovative sources the Millennials can access – social media, online content and apps for automating tasks.
  4. Feelings do matter to Millennials, a Baby Boomer may value status within an organisation but a Millennial wants to be seen as a person in a role and not be defined by their role.

Check out our Pinterest board on the generations for some useful infographics and comparisons of the generations.

And remember that much of these generational differences are down to the commonalities of human life stages. All older generations think the next generation is less worthy than their own. This is because everyone lives in the context of their upbringing – they value the traits that were most desired by the society they were raised in. These values shift over time, hence the negative viewpoint of those who come along later with different values.

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