Millennials: shiny marketing term for anyone born from the early 80s to the early 2000s.
We all know what that means, don’t we? Obnoxious youngsters who think that the world owes them a favour, flouncing around from one silly trend to another, leaving trails of seaweed, caffè marocchino and flax seed smoothie in their wake.
But as annoying as these whippersnappers may seem, they’re armed with weapons – weapons called dexterity, drive and determination. Youthful and tech-savvy, millennials are at the forefront of forward-thinking, transforming and founding businesses, winning entrepreneurial accolades and generally just changing the world.
Imagination and intelligence
When it comes to hiring millennials, you’ve only got to look at the corporations putting them at the forefront of their recruitment. The BBC offers rewarding graduate schemes, apprenticeships, work experience and training courses, whilst bigwigs such as M&C Saatchi, Goldman Sachs and Sky also grant graduate schemes and opportunities for Britain’s youngsters.
The UK’s under 30s are creating a range of niche businesses, including self-heating gym wear brand Zaggora, founded by 30 year old Dessi Bell after googling how to package heat into pants, which generated £10.7m in its first year. Or 29-year-old Adam Hildreth’s anti-grooming software company, which is is 98.4% effective in protecting children from online grooming. The millennials are making a lot of money as well: 28-year-old Dominic McVey, the UK’s youngest publisher, is worth £7m, and a London-based underground music video channel, SBTV, started by 16-year-old Jamal Edwards is now worth £8m. He’s 23.
Community, collaboration and competence
Not only are millennials alight with ideas and wired with creativity, they’re tough cookies. Commentators such as Ron Alsop have dubbed them ‘The Trophy Generation’ because they’re the most coddled bunch to date, adored by their parents, who remain very involved in their lives, even as the children become working adults. Paradoxically, millennials display a huge sense of entitlement and yet one of their defining characteristics is a tendency to create community-spirited enterprises.
Social observers believe that because they’ve grown up with unaffordable housing, terrorist threats and 24 hour news, they’re particularly resilient. Agile technology has given them the ability to respond to problems with innovative, ingenious ideas and many are showing the same diligence when it comes to business strategy and modification.
Millennials are from the age of technology and undoubtedly understand all its tigs and togs. In 2013 Pew Research discovered that 90% of 18-29 year olds were active on social media. Yes, millennials may use Facebook to discuss disastrous dates and upload pictures of themselves dressed as Despicable minions, but they also actively use social media to report crimes, seek justice, protest, campaign, complain, praise, support, market their entrepreneurial forays.
They may cry if a cafe has no wifi, but that same connectedness means they keep up to date with professionals and experts in their desired industry.
From interns to influencers
Millennials possess passion and power, energy and entrepreneurship. David Cameron’s encouragement for them to report exploitation in the workplace shows how desperate and willing millennials are to work in their dream industries.
The thing about youthful enthusiasm is that millennials don’t want to stagnate, they want to soar – and they will strengthen your company to do the same.
How to work with millennials
Well, you could research who Topshop’s just collaborated with, the health benefits of Monkey Picked Oolong Tea and the trendiest things to do with beards.
Alternatively, to get the best out of them, educate them in your ways, but take their ideas into consideration.
To a millennial, a ‘draft’ is a brief template full of typos – not a piece ready to win the Man Booker Prize.
Millennials work better when they’re happy – things have changed since the years when being shouted at resulted in anxiously working late at a pace so hurried you went ten hours without a trip to the toilet. The internet will tell you how fun and friendly offices are becoming to work – Google’s offices have a rooftop pool, Red Bull’s are equipped with adult slides and Mind Candy allow their employees to have a quick game of Guitar Hero if their brains get a bit fried.
We aren’t suggesting you build an indoor adult playground, serve vintage champagne for elevenses, do no work and file for bankruptcy, but the happier a millennial is, the harder they will work. In a tough economy and the real world, let’s translate that into positive feedback, constructive criticism and consistent affirmation that they aren’t going to get fired.
Millennials were raised believing its abnormal to not be friends with their friends’ parents and nowadays, most of them go for coffee with their teachers from sixth form. Do a bit of mentoring. A millennial may need a bit of direction, yes – but once shown and taught, they will impress. You never know, they could transform your company – and you may even become friends.