For a generation characterised by their rapidity, their four syllable name seems rather drawn out and cumbersome. Onomatopoeic perhaps, but "millennials" is surely not fitting?
The above is my patchily pointless contribution to the myriad of negativity surrounding the confident heir to Generation X. The majority of complaints seem to revolve around millennials’ technological mobility and social confidence.
Being born amid a time of unprecedented technological flux, they are tech-mobile, natural early adopters, welcoming and, I would suggest, embracing e-progress as symbiotic to their existence. If this appears overly dramatic to any X’ers, reminisce about when entertainment technology progressed at a rather more sedate pace: colour TVs, the Betamax vs. VHS battle, remote controls, Dolby Surround Sound and CDs - many of us could roughly plot their arrival on a timeline and not be too far out.
Gen Y however, has been bombarded with tech to the point of what could be construed as a rare example of positive indoctrination. Take the evolution of Apple - the volume of products launched since 2000 in particular would make it very difficult to state confidently in which year each slightly new iPod variation was launched, for example.
I accept that this view somewhat discounts the product diversification that any brand should employ to extend the life cycle. However, it also illustrates that if we are unable (apologies @cultofmac!) to do this for Apple, trying to extend this exercise across all entertainment technology and coherently map the mountain of new gadgets launched since the millennium on a timeline, might represent trying to play pin the tail on a rather large donkey.
Their absorption in technology spawns certain character traits, which inform the millennials’ social confidence. Broadly speaking, these seem to be interpreted as impatience or flightiness by older observers. These traits are simply a product of the times in which they're born – if things are available now, why should I wait before I can get them?
Some will sagely nod and observe that based upon conventional wisdom, the much reported tendency of millennials to not remain in jobs for long enough could harm their future prospects, due to a perceived lack of loyalty or reliability. This is definitely true to a certain extent, although I would also contend that personality traits such as loyalty and reliability are specific to each person and can most reliably be measured by using psychometrics and not via opinion or conjecture.
Indeed, the actions of one or many may not always be representative of everyone. It depends on where the sample of people is drawn from. For example, when a company complains that a large number of their young workers are not remaining with them for long, the easy option is to brand this group as #lazymillennials.
However, according to the findings of the Deloitte Touche third annual Millennial survey, what should be happening is that the organisation takes a long hard look at its culture, values and ethos – is it inspiring to work there? Are there challenging projects for them to be exposed to? Is the company innovative and fostering creativity?
In other words, it’s irrelevant if your company manufactures or offers what would be perceived as a fairly mundane product or service. It’s not about what you make; it’s about the atmosphere you create. Remember, anything can be exciting. It’s all about the thought that has gone into preparing it.
Equally important is the recruitment programme. I read recently that 80% of The Forbes 500 companies and 75% of the Times Top 100 use psychometric testing (aptitude and personality assessments). This is positive news to some extent – this next point may appear obvious but it is surprising how often it can occur - it should be noted that the tests need to be used in the correct way (matched up to the job specification) and vitally, at the correct stage of the recruitment process.
If this step is not taken and the correct test is not integrated at the most opportune point, it could lead to inappropriate hires, people working in roles not maximising their strengths or, worse still, the right people not being hired in the first place.
For example, Critical Thinking skills have been shown to be more predictive of performance than A Levels or Degree Class but if they are not being measured in the correct way, with the most appropriate tests, then boats will be missed.
To finish, millennials have received a great deal of bad press but it should be noted that a lot of this is abating. This is probably partly because we can now relate to them slightly more - Gen Y is growing up; moving into management positions, buying houses and wearing slippers.
It is also that Big Business and Academia have worked out that we better get to know these people – they are our successors and will be running the place when we are sitting down and reflecting about all those things we wish we’d done. Besides which, if you thought Generation Y was bad, here comes Generation Z.....
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