Lucy Cohen from Mazuma Accountants explains why your firm needs to cater for millennials, and how you can do it.
This term millennial is thrown around a lot in the media. But what is it? Or more to the point, who are they? In short, it’s a generation. The term Millennial is broadly used to describe the generation of people who were born between the early 1980s and late 1990s to early 2000s.
I am a millennial and, in writing my book The Millennial Renaissance, I have dissected what it means to be a member of this generation, and how the world we live in requires us to forge a path that differs greatly from the generations before us.
Millennials are the generation that (based on research done by William Strauss and Neil Howe) are more civic minded. We are confident, social, team orientated and use technology to interact and communicate with the world around us in a vastly different way to previous generations.
The millennial generation is arguably the most socially minded and tolerant in history. We are the generation that ushered in equal marriage laws, elected the first black president, created Facebook. And yet there is underlying tone to media coverage that we are lazy, entitled and narcissistic.
Millennials very much get a rough ride. According to the media we are all work-shy, emoji-loving, suit-bashing, avocado-worshiping socialists who just need to grow up and start acting like adults.
Here’s the thing though - we are adults. And this is fast becoming our world to shape as we choose. Experts predict that by 2020 millennials will make up 35% of the global workforce. A further 24% of the workforce will be Gen Z.
In short, the youth are coming for you, and you’re going to need to know how to work with them.
So what does all this mean if you want to engage with millennials?
It means you have to speak their language.
As a business owner, millennial, and employer of millennials, I see how different our lives are to that of previous generations. Expect to see them sitting at their desk for set hours of nine to five? Those days are long gone. And if you want millennials to engage with you, then you need to get on board with that idea.
In terms of workplace and brand engagement there are a few things that my generation really value. If you want your firm to deal successfully with this generation then you need to embrace the following ideas:
In my book I talk about the concept that people are now always a little bit at work and always a little bit at home. Smartphones, the internet and the lifestyles we lead means that we are simultaneously in work and in our personal lives most of the day. Schroedingers workplace, right?
This is a situation that works for me as an employer very well. I don’t mind my staff popping out for appointments or interacting on social media during the day as long as they are happy to work from home a bit in the evening - when it suits their family life and schedule. It’s a win-win.
Millennials really value the culture of an organisation - both in terms of ones they work for, or ones they choose to hire services from. So if your firm’s culture fits in with their lifestyles and values, you’ve established some common ground that makes you a more attractive proposition to them.
Get over it, it’s here to stay. As a business that means that you have to be active on the major social media channels if you want millennials to hire you.
One of the first things I do when I look for a new supplier is check their social media and how they interact with their customers online. If they are not present or their tone is too “corporate”, I move on.
That said, it’s really obvious when the social media tone of a company doesn’t match its brand.
I’ve had experiences where I’ve called up a company whose social looked great, but when I get through to the actual office it’s really clear they’ve just hired a firm to do their social for them.
Don’t have a young and on trend online presence if your office is staffed by boomers who still talk about fax machines. That’s a huge millennial turn off. And it makes you seem a bit, well, fake.
Millennials value this over money. Let’s face it our generation got screwed over big time when it comes to being able to accumulate wealth in our working years. Own our own homes? Have a final salary pension? To coin a phrase: LOL.
So we value our time and interactions over our cash which is actually great news for businesses who want to sell to millennials. Offer value for money and a solution to a problem and we’ll hire you rather than try to do it ourselves.
Sure, we may not be the generation who are great at DIY. But we’ll pay you for time savers and added value.
We’re a generation who like to be kept in the loop. Businesses need to answer emails the same day, tweets within a couple of hours and phone calls straight away.
We’ve grown up accustomed to communicating and receiving answers almost instantly. So if your firm wants to engage with us, we need you to have systems in place to keep us posted on things.
Thankfully our generation also invented a load of great technology that can help you achieve that. Get to grips with scheduling social media content, email automations and SMS services in your business.