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Millennials: What Are They, And Do I Need One?

Most of us today have learned to adapt to the growing integration of, and improvements in, technology. Millennials however, have grown up with it from their cribs. Those born between 1980 and 2000 are identified as "Millennials", that generation leading up to the New Millennium, when the Baby Boomers were worried that all technology would crash when the clock hit midnight on 12/31/1999.

Millennials, a generation larger than the Baby Boomer generation, have a different world view and have grown up in a period of rapid change yielding  new priorities and expectations sharply different from previous generations. And this generation is growing fast in the workforce. 77 million strong in the US, they make up 24% of the country's population. By 2020 Millennials will make up 50% of the workforce. Where Boomers might have two or three employers during their career, Millennial graduates are saying that they expect to have six or more employers.

Technology is such a part of their lives that their parents believe that their smartphones may have been grafted into their palms. In college they take their laptops to class and text and IM (instant message) friends while studying or walking across campus. They order their books online as well as baby shower gifts, clothes, and most do their initial shopping for a vehicle on the Internet as well. Where Boomers grew up going on a family vacation, singing along with cassettes on the 5 hour drive, Millennials each have their own iPod or smartphone. They choose the music they want to listen to, the movie they want to watch, the friends they want to talk to. Their activities are customized to their interests.

To them, going to school or work may mean sitting in their pajamas and getting on their laptop. Texting and emails are acceptable forms of communication, and they go lots of places to get input for making their informed decisions; most of it on the Internet.

When you ask a Millennial what makes their generation unique, they typically respond "technology use". Baby Boomers ranked "work ethic" as the most defining characteristic of their generation. It doesn't mean Millennials don't have a good work ethic, just that they try to utilize technology to make work easier. And given their fluency and comfort with technology, they have a more positive view of how it can affect and improve their lives. They are comfortable researching and buying things with technology, and more often than not, have a credit card pre-loaded into their smartphone for online purchases, from Stocks, to clothes, to schoolbooks, and even insurance.  But they don't read the newspaper and they don't clip coupons. They want a good deal and they seek it out in online promotions. They may visit 6 to 10 websites before buying that new gadget, or booking their vacation.

Millennials are quick to judge an employer by its technology, and for many employers, that is not a good thing. And it's not just about having computers and smart phones in the workforce; Millennials do not like to kill trees, So printing everything is not a desired goal. They are comfortable with having an “electronic record” and trusting that it is accurate, without having to hold a piece of paper in their hand. Nine out of 10 younger workers use Facebook, and they check out a company’s leaders’ profiles on LinkedIn before making an application for employment. And their experience with technology in the workplace will give them great satisfaction or have them Tweeting, “this place is still in the dark ages”.  Flexibility is the norm, in their communication style as well as their place of work. In a recent study, 49% of respondents said that they would preferred to work in the office only three or four days a week. And they are “trained” to consider all their options online when shopping, so having benefit options at work is a plus. They are comfortable doing the research and finding the solution they think best for themselves. They long to be in control, so favor website self-service solutions in the workplace. And you should expect them to “talk” about their experiences on their social media.

So this is just a general summary of what Millennials are about, but suffice it to say you will get some. Probably quite a few! Get your app, and get in the technology game.