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How to crack the millennial code – why myths don’t matter

Lauren Heaven • 4th August

Millennial

Connecting with the mythical millennial generation in the workplace isn’t as hard as you think.

The story about the millennial generation goes a little something like this:

A twenty-something who experiences the majority of life through a screen. Someone who often poses a challenge in the workplace due to high levels of entitlement and need for constant recognition and entertainment. Their only form of communication is through social media

A quick Google search brings up hundreds of guides for businesses based on this view of millennials, or Generation-Y. From how employers should ‘manage’ this group, born between 1980-2000, to how to market to them. 

They’re treated as a different species, and different rules apply. But actually this is a misleading generalisation, and one that can take businesses in the wrong direction when it comes to engagement. And when we’re talking about the generation that will make up half of the global workforce by 2050 – getting it right matters.

Like all generalisations the truth is much simpler. Here are a few myths, fit for busting.

Common millennial myths

MYTH

A common view is that millennials have been brought up in an ‘everyone-gets-a-trophy’ age. At work, this translates as a lack of focus, a need for constant hand-holding, and the expectation of rapid promotion. 

In fact, thanks to coming of age in a time that lacked job-security, the millennial generation are generally focused, ambitious and self-motivated. More flexibility, and ways of working ‘smarter’ rather than longer, may help to tap into these strengths.

Growing up with constant testing and reviewing, it’s natural that millennials like feedback. On the whole, they are ambitious and switched on, and this means wanting to learn how to get better. Improving communication so that it’s clear, direct and collaborative will be beneficial to everyone on your team. 

TIP

Making a difference, being part of the story and achieving personal goals are high on the list for millennials. Give constructive advice and involve them in business discussions – the diversity of ideas will help to keep your business moving forward.

MYTH

Loyalty to a job is usually seen to be a foreign concept to millennials. This means employees worry about investing in someone who will leave after a year or two.

In fact, with jobs paying less, and prices rising, millennials increasingly are looking for fulfilment in other forms. They want to make a positive impact in society, blending work, personal life and social responsibility. This means if they don’t feel engaged with the business, they’re less likely to stay ‘loyal’ for the paycheck alone.

Communicating your company’s ethos and goals in the right way, and proving that it’s not all talk can go a long way to addressing this. An effective CSR programme is also now more important than ever for millennials.

TIP

Millennials place value on authenticity and honesty. Be genuine, open and involve them in decisions to win their trust. In fact, this applies to pretty much everyone – it’s employee comms best practice. 

MYTH

The older generation are convinced millennials spend all of their time online. This one, generally, is pretty accurate. But that’s not a bad thing.

Growing up online, with constant interaction and sharing, collaboration comes naturally to millennials. Brands that have tapped into this – like Netflix, with the option to share what you’re watching through Facebook – have soared in popularity.

The success of many of these brands is the ability to reimagine the consumer as a partner, rather than a target audience – as this article in the Journal of Brand Strategy argues. Keeping millennials connected with your brand internally is no different. Collaboration and two-way communications will help to build relationships, keeping people involved and engaged.  

TIP

Shareable content is valuable. Making sure it is beneficial in some way – whether educational, fun or just different increases the chances of your message being bought into, and shared. Think about how you can tailor your comms with this in mind. 

All in all, there might be plenty online about this enigmatic generation – but the fundamentals of good comms apply to millennials as much as anyone else. Keep it direct, useful and put it where they’re most likely to find it: online.

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Words&Pictures (Commercial) Ltd
The Editorial Design Centre
Wharfebank House
Ilkley Road
Leeds
LS21 3JP