Let's be honest. The term "millennial" likely makes you cringe, and I can't say that I blame you. I'm a member of the expansive, ever-active millennial generation, and sometimes even I become exasperated over the generational hoopla.
If you look past the marathon of selfies and the frenzy of status updates, however, a startling truth emerges: millennials are changing the world.
A trend of data is surfacing in support of more openly embracing the integration of millennials into the workplace. Why? Well, for starters, according to the Deloitte Millennial Survey for 2014, millennials are expected to make up 75 percent of the global workforce within the next decade. This means that, whether you're on board or not, millennials are likely going to be working for or with you in the very near future.
Because of this, seasoned professionals are beginning to take notice; they're discovering that we've got plenty to offer.
We are digital pioneers.
It's no surprise that millennials are tech-savvy. Nearly every aspect of our lives revolves around digital devices. However, there's more to our savvy than a sophisticated Instagram post or a well-planned Snapchat story.
Technology developed as we did, and we've easily adapted to each new wave of advances. This means that we're always looking to push digital boundaries. We're looking for new ways to connect online and improve our daily lives.
Consequentially, this carries over into our professional lives, as well. In an article on Fortune.com, Sally Susman, the executive vice president of corporate affairs at Pfizer, highlighted the crux of millennial potential when she said, "Greater insight from millennials can help us connect online with people of all ages in ways that are, frankly, new and unexpected..."
If given the chance, millennials can be great assets for social media strategy and connecting with consumers on a digital level.
We lead through inspiration.
According to an article on Business Insider, millennial managers are more optimistic and lead by "pulling" their employees to succeed rather than pushing.
What does this mean for business? When millennials lead with inspiration, optimism and by example, motivation increases among employees, and millennials rise as "champions of change," often for the benefit of the company's image and its bottom line.
We move to improve.
There's a saying that one of my college professors used to recite, "I give back through feedback." Of course at the time, it usually elicited an eye roll from me. But even then, I eagerly welcomed feedback, nearly chomping at the bit for a chance to better my work and refine my craft.
Zenger/Folkman's research captures that sentiment by suggesting that millennials are "looking for new ways to work smarter and produce higher-quality work." This often encompasses the desire to both give and get feedback. Such a desire increases communication and fosters a drive to continuously improve - a win-win scenario for employees and companies.
We are challenge-seeking goal-setters.
This goes hand-in-hand with our digital drive and our desire to improve. We push the envelope, constantly looking to take things to the next level. It's as if the powers-that-be told ambitious millennials, "Jump," and the resounding response was "How high?"
In most cases, the status quo is just not good enough. We set goals that seem unattainable and then strive to bypass reaching them and focus instead on surpassing them. This pushes us to bigger dreams and better results.
We are social investors.
Investing in the well-being of the community and society as a whole is kind of our mantra, whether or not we're consciously aware of it is a different story. As one of my co-workers puts it, "Millennials grew up on Harry Potter and The West Wing." It may sound cheesy, but it rings true. Our expectations for how to treat others and our elasticity toward social acceptance gives us an innate drive for social responsibility.
As for how that translates to businesses, Susman explained, "As a new generation entering the workforce without pre-set notions of traditional models, millennials can help shape corporate responsibility programs to move beyond charity and towards entrepreneurial models that benefit society."
If millennials can and are changing the world, imagine what they can do for your business.
What have millennials done for your business?