As it appeared in the Daily Nation on May 24th 2016
Are you a millennial, working with millennials or marketing to millennials? If you are not a millennial then you are certainly working with them. Soon the millennials will be the majority at the workplace if not already. The millennial generation also often referred to as generation Y (Gen Y) is a growing customer group and more importantly forms the majority of current day frontline staff. Many smart companies are aware of the intrigues of this generation.
Generation theory creators Neil Howe and William Strauss define millennials as those individuals born between 1982 and 2004 though other sources extend the years to 1976. Therefore, the millennials are in their thirties, twenties and teens and will soon be in their 40s. Many companies across the globe are designing products and service offerings and using marketing tactics that are attractive to the millennials but some are not.
The millennials are seen to be unique. They differ from the generations before them in several ways. Having grown up in different times from their parents, the millennials are certainly more informed and they dream big. Many have grown up in a technologically advanced and a highly socially networked world. The television, the mobile phone, the internet are just but a few of the greatest authorities of their generation. They are greatly exposed to the good, the bad and even the ugly of life’s happenings. They want a painless customer experience and many of them do not just buy any product or use a service. They have a wide selection to choose from, are keen on the brand, and they do online comparisons and talk to friends before making a choice.
This exposure has raised their expectations sometime causing them to even have unrealistic expectations. Indeed, they can be said to be more demanding customers than their parents are. Many companies are working hard to reach out to this generation of customers and to integrate technology in their customer experience. However, few have paid attention to the millennials as frontline staff. A number of organizations I have interacted with have 28 years as their average employee age. What is their preferred work environment? How do they like to be managed? Why do they prefer to text than call? How do they perceive customers? I had an opportunity to visit a number of fast foods in the USA recently where most of the staff are millennials. Having worked in the industry, I was quick to pick on the mounting laxity in most of these outlets. When I investigated the happenings, I found out that the new generation of employees was the weakest link.
Back here at home, it is important for companies to realize that the smart millennials are not ready to put up with the unpleasant work environments that their parents endured. Mean and domineering bosses are no longer trendy. These millennials share work experiences widely and are ready to quit or move jobs when they need to. Millennials are no longer the minority at the workplace; they are a growing majority. To be able to offer a seamless customer experience smart leaders must focus on the needs of the millennials as employees first and as customers second.
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer and can be reached on email@example.com/old or via twitter @kiruthulucy