The fireworks of New Year’s Eve 2017 marked the end of a once-in-a-millennium event; a day on which every adult on the planet was born in one millennium and every child born in another. Faced with such a stark contrast, it would seem an opportune time to reflect on a generational divide that is set to transform the workplace and why you the CEO, the HR Director, the Events Manager should care.
If you’ve worked your way up the career ladder and into the rarefied air of senior management, then the stats say you’re likely in your early-to-mid 40s. So whilst you might hark back to a childhood of black and white episodes of Crackerjack and that unusually hot summer of ’76, the reality is that you’re increasingly going to find yourself in charge of people who were born after the Spice Girls broke up (1998 in case you were wondering).
Very loosely defined as being born sometime between the early 80s and mid-to-late 90s depending on who you ask; millennials are accused by older generations of possessing a number of unflattering characteristics that are perhaps best demonstrated by Google’s autocomplete function. If you type the words ‘Millennials are’ into the search bar, you’ll receive ‘lazy’, ‘ruining’ and ‘entitled’ as the top entries.
This much-maligned generation is often accused of being the least engaged in the workplace and the studies would seem to support this claim. But why? There’s certainly no lack of talent. In fact, The Economist asserts that millennials are the best-educated generation ever and accountancy firm Deloitte expects them to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. To get to the bottom of the issue, you need to look beyond the stereotypes. And if you do that, you’ll find a generation comfortable with technology, who are creative, open-minded, with a strong sense of social responsibility and a love of experiences.
According to a Harris study; “this generation not only highly values experiences, but they are increasingly spending time and money on them […] happiness isn’t as focused on possessions or climbing the career ladder”. So why are experiences being viewed as more rewarding than material possessions? Simply, because they’re much harder to judge as objectively ‘better’ or ‘worse’ and so avoid unhelpful comparison, while also delivering that tantalising build-up as the date draws nearer; something you don’t get from a new smartphone.
While there will always be some who embark on their annual pilgrimage to the Covent Garden Apple Store to camp out overnight, the fact is that new all-screen, facial-scanning iPhone quickly becomes the new normal. Your shiny new toy is swiftly demoted to the status of an everyday tool that is used to capture, create and share their memories on various social media platforms that are designed more around what people are doing than what they have – from the mundane to the mind-blowing.
If you want to engage, develop and retain the best talent then your HR departments, event managers and procurement teams will need to accommodate a cohort that does not measure personal success the same way as previous generations. The creation of a work environment that matches the core values of these experience-seeking young adults is by far and away the best opportunity you’ll have to secure the future of your business and create an organisation where millennials will not only want to work but one they actively seek out in order to forge their career.
At Black Tomato Agency we’re committed to helping you unleash the untapped potential of your entire workforce. We offer award-winning, creative comms campaigns, wow-factor incentives, bespoke reward programmes and once-in-a-lifetime prize experiences across the globe. So whether you’re after an emotive launch video to excite the network, a custom-built Himalayan base camp, a fully integrated engagement platform, or a brand-infused French Riviera villa; we’ve got you covered.