The millennial generation – those born between the 1980’s and the year 2000 – are often boiled down to talkers, techies, and social media gurus. However, they are considerably more complex than often given credit for, and they’re entering the workforce at an exponential rate.
Recruiters, businesses of all sizes, and workers in every industry need to understand that millennials are more than just smartphone lovers and snapchatters. They are empathetic people, innovative thinkers, and employees that crave honesty and transparency over legacy.
As this generation continues to enter the workforce, businesses can utilize the added expertise in technology, but – more surprisingly – they can benefit from this generation’s devotion to honesty and empathy.
The Socially Conscious Millennial
As The New York Times reported in October 2015, millennials – or the social media generation – are creating and fostering what is coined as “a new form of empathy” on social media. Although the face-to-face type of empathy is lacking in the online realm, this group is exposed to more viewpoints that are not their own and are more socially conscious than any past generation because of it.
Similarly, as was revealed in the USC Dornsife School’s piece on marketing to millennials, this younger generation is a bit ahead of the masses when it comes to supporting brands that promise environmental stewardship: “87% of Millennials have shown the desire to make purchases that have an environmental or social benefit.”
There’s no question that the buying preferences of millennials also influences their preferences for company culture. Millennials may initially apply for a job that reflects their goal to learn and advance their career, but they will stay for a company that reflects their values or culture.
In the world of changing business culture, environmentally-conscious practices are becoming more of the norm. Millennials can help create actionable plans – such as company volunteering – that fulfill their generation’s desire to work for socially conscious businesses. As Marylhurst University puts it in their article about adopting sustainable practices: “Companies who want to adopt sustainable practices and principles must be keen to a broader vision of success, one that values the well-being of society, employees, and future generations.”
Keeping Businesses Honest
Millennials aren’t just concerned with a company’s promise to be environmentally or socially conscious; they are also concerned with that company’s track record on honesty.
There are multiple reasons why millennials are so concerned with transparency and integrity. One justification is that in our day and age it is getting increasingly more impossible for companies, corporations, and people, to “hide their skeletons” so-to-speak.
Forbes’ contributor Karl Moore wrote on authenticity in business, saying “Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… the plethora of social media has made it harder to fake it. […] Being authentic, these days, has much to do with the self you portray both online and offline – do they match up, or is one, presumably your online one, merely a persona?”
In this way, millennials can help keep the companies they work for honest. They see the value (and danger) in spreading information through social media, and they can help point out mistakes before they go global. Their preference for solid and transparent communication in an office culture can help honesty spread into the company’s message to consumers, partners, and employees.
Millennials prefer to support and work for companies that can reflect their values. Although our society often boils this group down to their tech-savvy nature and addiction to social media, the truth is this young generation entering the workforce cares deeply about fellow humans and the environment. And that empathy is something they can use to shape a business’ company culture and public image.
By hiring millennials and allowing them to influence the values of a company, they can provide helpful insight on how to stay transparent, honest, and socially or environmentally conscious within that industry. Millennials aren’t just beneficial to a business; they are necessary to drive companies into the future and towards a more substantial and inclusive standard of living.
About the author:
Katie McBeth is a freelance writer out of Boise, ID, with experience in marketing for small businesses and management. When she’s not writing about millennials or small businesses, she spends her free time being the proud mother of three cats and one dog named Toby. You can follow her animal and writing adventures on Instagram or Twitter: @ktmcbeth.