November 3, 2014
Scott Hess, SVP/Human Experience at Publicis media agency Spark, is one of the leading experts on American youth and the millennial generation in particular. His TED talk, “Millennials: Who They Are & Why We Hate Them” has generated more than 150,000 views and counting. His first research job in the marketing and consulting space was on the topic of “emerging models of commerce & community on the Internet”, which inspired him to dive deep into generational differences and why they matter so much. Delivering research findings into insights is one of his strengths, and he went on The Big Payoff radio show last week to share how synthesizing data – especially about millennials – for businesses to use is the best part of his job. Here are some of the takeaways from this talk.
It’s highly important to be so attuned to the millennial generation at this point in time, because nearly every business is currently either hiring them or selling to them. Although Hess admits that “generational theory is a soft science, so the exact birth years are kind of immaterial,” millennials are born between 1980 and 2000.
- the largest living generation right now,
- entering their prime earning and consuming years, and
- truly at the fulcrum of culture right now. Our culture is looking youth-ward in ways that it never has. When have you ever had three generations consuming the same elements of pop culture? “For the first time ever, you’ve got daughter, mom, and grandmother reading the same book and going to the same movie.”
Hess provides the insights that allow employers to create incentives and workplaces that appeal to millennials. He consults with companies on how to to manage, motivate, and retain millennials.
“There are obvious ways that this generation is different. They are truly mercenaries and not soldiers. You need to sell them on a near-term mission as opposed to a career. Show them how that mission translates to their LinkedIn profile. Literally show them the bullet points they can take after they’ve worked at your company for six months… It’s a value exchange that these guys are seeking.”
There is not a monolithic way to go to work anymore. Millennials are exposed, through social media and other means of connectivity, to what incentives their peers are receiving. No other generation has been so empowered. They now have the confidence to say out loud what employees have always thought, and they are eager to speak up and ask for the things they want in the workplace. Managers are now thus inspired to look for ways to be leaders and motivators rather than the old method of trying to extract as much energy out of employees.
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