During the last few months, I’ve been reading about millennials – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and ultimately, I find myself fed up with the stereotypes. I have 2 daughters who fit squarely in the millennial demographic, and my experiences with them and their friends are nothing like the stereotypes out there.
I know many millennials who have worked more than one job to afford to live on their own, have started their own business, and work more than 40 hours per week to make sure they’re doing what they can to help the companies they work with grow.
The other thing I find problematic about the millennial stereotypes is that so many of them could have applied to baby boomers … then generation X … now the millennials … and soon, generation Z.
Try to remember yourself when you were 18-35. Were you self-absorbed? Maybe a little impatient and impulsive? Did you innately know how to manage your money? Were you idealistic and stood up for causes you believed in – even when others didn’t understand?
Whether you want to admit it or not, the answers to those questions is “yes.” Which means that rather than being millennial traits, they’re really just common young adult behaviors.
Do many of them move in with their parents after college? Again, yes – but not because they’re lazy; rather, they graduate with expensive degrees that don’t guarantee them jobs and enter an economy that’s still recovering from the Great Recession.
Millennials are open to new ideas and quick to try new technologies and innovations to make things easier and faster – they’re hard workers, but they know the wisdom of “work smarter, not harder.” I see this every day in our millennial employees and my kids. They want to learn, they want their work to matter, they want to succeed, they want to become someone of value in their communities.
So maybe the problem isn’t the millennials – maybe it’s us, the non-millennials. We misunderstand them, we believe the stereotypes about them, and then we expect them to act like the stereotypes and treat them accordingly. Get to know them as people – your coworkers, your employees, your marketing targets, etc. – and not as a generation. Learn to speak their language.
You might have heard the quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.” Everyone has a story you know nothing about, and falling for stereotypes diminishes everyone. Let’s start conversations with millennials as if they’re valuable and important to society – because they are.
We know a little bit about millennials and building buyer personas – and we can help you. Just give us call!