- I’m not using the word “Millennials” anymore. I’m sick of the negative connotation.
- Considering the fact that Gen Y will soon dominate the workforce, it behooves us to get over this negative view.
- Let’s focus on the fresh perspective and unique gifts of this newly dominant generation, and get back to work.
If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I recently made a proclamation never to use the word “Millennials” again …
This blog title is the last time you will see me using that “M” word. It’s like “epic” or “Kleenex” —so overused that it’s lost its original meaning —and it’s making people throw up! Henceforth I’ll refer to them as Generation Y, since that identifies them but hasn’t collected all the crazy connotations.
Gen Y –born roughly between 1985 and 2005– makes up 35% of the U.S. population. Just recently they passed the baby boomers to become the largest age group in the country. They number approximately 75.4 million, while the number of boomers is at just under 75 million and going down.
Why the big fuss?
The ebb and flow of generations is nothing new; it happens naturally. So why is there so much discussion of the habits and priorities of Gen Y? There was never this much fuss over Gen X, was there?
The truth is that this generation is markedly different from those who came before, and understanding the contrast helps the more… seasoned among us to adapt.
This is the most diverse and best-educated generation ever. 42 percent identify with a race other than non-Hispanic white, and 61 percent have attended college, compared to 46 percent of boomers. These are important characteristics, but the biggest force behind the unique perspective of Generation Y is technology.
Connected from the crib
Gen Y is the first to have had Internet access for as long as they can remember. (It’s surprising they’re not glowing!) Technology has been advancing at a blistering pace for their entire lives, so they’re accustomed to adopting new tools on the regular.
This age group is connected 24/7. They have an overwhelmingly positive attitude toward technology, and see it as an essential part of staying socially connected —evaluating what they buy and who they hang out with. In fact, most Gen Y’ers check with their digital networks for a lot of important decision-making. People in this age group tend to rely heavily on online comments and recommendations when making purchases or choosing a restaurant (Yelp, anyone?).
This is new. It’s not how “we used to do it.” And for some, that’s downright annoying. Gen Y has a reputation for being entitled and precious, needing constant acknowledgment and feedback. Considering the fact that Gen Y will soon dominate the workforce, it behooves us to get over this negative view.
If you were born with a cell phone in your hand and were able to get answers as fast as they were growing up — rather than hearing your parents say “I’ll tell you later” — then you would understand.
It’s estimated that Gen Y will make up fully 50% of the global workforce by 2020. That means that their ideas about how, when, and where we work will have major influence for decades to come. It’s true that they value feedback and interaction, but this is only natural when you consider how they’ve grown up.
They’re not needy or insecure so much as all of us are —they’re just connected! They’re accustomed to instant responses and consensus, which makes them great at collaborative projects. It also makes them responsive.
Get back to work!
So it’s time to get over this grumpy old-guy-on-the-porch attitude towards “those millennials.” I, for one, plan to scrap the “M” word, with its negative associations, entirely. Let’s focus on the fresh perspective and unique gifts of this newly dominant generation, and get back to work.