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Millennials: A Unique Generation of Consumers and Employees

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August 30, 2021
Author: NCH

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Millennials are now the largest and most unique generation in the U.S. labor force. Roughly a third (35 percent) of Americans are millennials, described as individuals ages 23 to 38. And by 2025, millennials will represent 75 percent of the global workforce. As baby boomers retire, the percentage of millennials in the workforce will continue to rise.

But how are millennials different from other generations?

Also known as Generation Y or Echo Boomers, millennials have the greatest lifetime value of any customer in the marketplace, according to The Center for Generational Kinetics. In addition, millennials have the least-established loyalty as customers—but are extremely loyal once they actually choose a brand, service, or company. And millennials are interested in making a social impact through their work. In fact, these employees are willing to take pay cuts to work for companies that are compatible with their values.

Due to the large size and spending power of this unique generation, millennials are clearly a vital piece of the economic market. Therefore, it is necessary to understand how they think, feel, work, and spend in order to successfully employ and sell to this generation. Let’s take a look:

Satisfy their curiosity: KPMG’s Meet the Millennial report found that millennials are extremely curious and constantly need to grasp the specific reason for doing something. It is important for them to see the value of taking action, as well as how it fits into the bigger picture.

Follow their communication preferences: Millennials are a unique generation of consistently connected individuals. The Center for Generational Kinetics found that millennials prefer to communicate in tech-savvy ways. In order of preference, their most used methods include: texts and IM apps (such as Facebook Messenger), email (with an emphasis on the subject line), social media, phone calls, and in-person communication.

When communicating with millennials, keep these preferences in mind. However, be sure to remember that not all millennials are the same, so it is imperative to use multiple methods of communication.

Provide open and honest communication: KPMG’s study found that millennials are extremely honest with each other and expect the same from others. They not only want their opinions to matter, but they want to feel as though their ideas are being understood. As a result, adopting a transparent communications policy is the best way to connect with millennials.

Focus on social responsibility: A majority of millennials are interested in working for organizations committed to social responsibility. In fact, a recent study by Horizon Media’s Finger on the Pulse found that more than 80 percent of millennials expect the companies they work for to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship. Consequently, in order to attract these millennials, companies must focus on the causes that millennials find meaningful, such as the environment, civil rights, healthcare, and education.  By supporting social causes, companies will have a greater chance of attracting and retaining employees who are committed to these principles.

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Offer security: Millennials job hop more than previous generations. They are not afraid to switch jobs as a way to achieve security. Consequently, it is imperative to help millennials understand change and how it will affect them—as well as providing this unique generation with a “security blanket” in the form of products and services that deliver much-needed security.

Ignore the stereotypes: Millennials are consistently stereotyped as lazy, impatient, and entitled. They are described as lacking loyalty and attention, being financially illiterate, addicted to their cell phones, and having a bad work ethic. In fact, the Time Magazine article, “The Me Me Me Generation,” referred to millennials as “narcissistic and entitled.”

Instead of buying into these preconceived notions, form your own opinions because these stereotypes are not helpful. Remember that millennials are important consumers and employees. Spend time understanding their mindset. Research their concerns, answer their questions, and position yourself as a counselor and sounding board. Be someone with whom they can share their problems and fears. Form a strong relationship.

Consider working preferences: Most millennials are not interested in returning to the office full time after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. A new survey from Citrix Systems found that 90 percent of respondents have no interest in returning to office work full time once the pandemic is over. In fact, more than half (51 percent) prefer a hybrid working model where they can work from home most — or all of the time. In addition, the study found that career stability/security, as well as work-life balance, matter most to these employees. As a result, companies looking to attract millennial workers must take these preferences into consideration when attracting and hiring talent.

Offer benefits targeted to millennials: To attract these employees, it is helpful to offer company benefits that matter to them. For example:  flexible working schedules, casual working environments, strong training and development programs, and locations that attract younger workers, such as offices in large metropolitan areas, instead of suburban areas that are not easily accessible. 

The bottom line is that with millennials holding the title of “greatest lifetime value” of any customer in the marketplace, it is crucial to recognize the best methods to attract, hire, and retain these individuals, as well as to sell to this unique generation.

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