The age of the baby boomer is nearly over. Are you ready for it?
As the boomers age out of the workforce, millennials are starting their careers. Millennials have passed baby boomers as the most populous living generation, and much has been written about this younger generation and the way their habits and outlook will shape the world.
Companies are beginning to recognize this, and as the next generation enters the workforce, savvy big-name brands are trying to snap up the best prospects from Generation Y. What characteristics do millennials bring to big-name brands that other generations don’t?
1) Millennials are an investment
Bringing younger workers in now is an investment in the future of the company, and the sooner big brands tailor their hiring to millennials, the better off they’ll be as the last of the baby boomers retire.
Even older, established firms like global accounting firm Ernst & Young are pivoting to this younger crowd, with over 60 percent of their hires coming from Generation Y. Their Americas Recruiting Leader termed this strategy “refilling the pipeline with top talent”.
The wave is coming, and companies will either ride it or wind up underwater.
2) Millennials can be loyal employees
There’s a little bit of a stigma against millennials in the workplace, perhaps most famously stated by Simon Sinek. But every company is going to have to hire from this most populous generation — it’s not something you can get around.
Fortunately, it’s not all bad news. Big brands can actually build with millennial employees.
Millennials are more likely to hop between jobs, although that trend has somewhat reversed. But if you can keep those younger employees, that breadth of experience in different environments can pay dividends down the road.
60 percent of millennials chose their current employer based on a “sense of purpose.” And if brands can provide that purpose, particularly by emphasizing their “most human values,” they may discover that their workforce is more loyal than they expected.
3) Millennials are tech savvy
Millennials have grown up in an era where the Internet, smartphones, and personal computing have become commonplace. The younger group might not even remember a world before social media, giving them a distinct advantage when it comes to assessing what might pop when you’re trying to reach a younger audience.
Millennials use social media to an extent that older generations don’t. When companies are trying to tailor an ad or social campaign to the younger generation, it pays to speak to the members of that generation. They’re a skeptical generation, more jaded about traditional advertising techniques than their parents — and cynical, badly-placed messaging can damage your credibility immensely. Avoid falling in the “3 emojis or less” trap and speak the language of these digital natives by involving them in the creative process.
4) Millennials are flexible, independent thinkers
62 percent of millennials are interested in owning their own business, and about half have specific plans on how to do it. Big brands can harness that creativity and risk-taking and unlock possibilities that more risk-averse employees might not even think of.
There’s a caveat, though. Only about two percent of millennials are self-employed, as opposed to 7.6 percent of Generation X and 8.3 percent of baby boomers. Young people starting businesses is actually less common than it was. Some of this is likely due to factors outside of their control — high student debt and higher cost of living, for example. It seems like this is a generation that loves the idea of entrepreneurship, but may not have the opportunity to pursue it.
Why not harness that?
Building a culture that allows for some flexibility can use the best strengths of this entrepreneurial spirit. The creativity, the free thinking, and the ownership that entrepreneurship uses are all qualities that can help big brands, if they’re willing to allow it.
5) Millennials can drive corporate responsibility
For many millennials, working for a place that actually cares about people and the environment is a big factor in searching for jobs. According to Deloitte’s 2017 millennial survey, 74 percent of millennial employees believe that corporations have the capacity to make a difference in the world. In the workplace, especially when working for a place that they believe in, that sense of empowerment can help grow the business.
The same survey noticed a direct correlation between accountability and influence. In other words, this generation feels they can make an impact on the world at work—and perhaps more in the workplace than anywhere else.
Big brands are starting to recognize these qualities that millennials bring to the table. Are you? Invest in the future and harness creative, millennial minds.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.