The term “Millennial” was allegedly first coined by William Strauss and Neil Howe in 1987 after a few failed attempts by their peers, including terms like “the echo boomers” and “net generation”. This term has managed to seep into the very fabric of the majority of employee initiatives, as companies aim to appeal to this new generation. Consequently, a plethora of research has been done to understand what makes this generation tick.

There is no exact definition of what defines a person as a millennial, but it is largely accepted that any person roughly born between 1980 and 2000 would fall into this category. Most of the research done has been completed by academic centres and notable institutions operating predominantly in North America and Europe.

It is estimated that the world has given birth to just under 2.8 billion people between 1980 and 2000. Asia has contributed to just over 57% of the millennial population, with China and India contributing the lion’s share. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for just under 17%. However, Northern America and Western Europe account for just over 6%.

These 2.8 billion people can be seen to represent the “millennial”, yet much of the research and insight has taken place in the population group that represents just over 6% of the population. Can it be argued that this is not representative of the greater population?

Figure 1: Per region % breakdown of births between 1980 and 2000

Figure 1: Per region % breakdown of births between 1980 and 2000

ARE WE NOT BLINDLY APPLYING TRENDS TO OUR OWN UNIQUE MARKETS?

We would never assume that the macro, social, and economic characteristics of the United States are the same as India. We do not assume that the average Brit has the same daily concerns as your average Angolan. So should we be assuming that 2.8 billion millennials all share the same characteristics?

WHAT ARE THESE CHARACTERISTICS?

There are a multitude of different studies discussing how the mythological millennial works and what is supposedly valued by this generation. The below summarizes what millennials want from their employers:

NEEDS OF THE MILLENNIAL AT WORK

Enjoy diverse tasks at work Require work life balance and flexibility
Social connectedness Want to work on collaborative projects
Tech-Savvy Want transparency
Want recognition and gratification Want career advancement opportunity
Figure 2: IBM Study respondent results

Figure 2: IBM Study respondent results

However, there is research questioning whether these needs are in fact unique to this generation. A study was completed by the IBM Institute for Business Value, where approximately 1700 employees from different generational backgrounds were asked what they value in an employer.

It was discovered that the “Differences [among the generations] are uniformly minimal across nine other variables as well”. It is proposed that the differences between the various generations have more to do with the individual’s age rather than what year they were born in, or in other words, the millennials will not necessarily carry through the same values as they age. This is understandable, as an individual, your own views, needs, and wants will change as you grow older and your life situation shifts.

The world has seen an unbelievable shift in technological advancement with unprecedented access to information. The way that we work, communicate and, to a large degree, think has shifted. This revolution is not limited to the younger generation although they may adapt faster. A study by Jetsrame in 2014 found that 46% of the users on Facebook are 35 years or older. This means that half of the largest online social media platform are NOT millennials. This is an impressive number considering that Facebook has a user count that has just topped
1.7 billion. In fact, Facebook is noting its largest growth from the age 55 or above. This indicates that people are embracing technology and new development, and that those trends apply to ALL generations.

SO WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?

It is vital to understand what your current and future employees value to ensure you create an organisational framework that can attract, retain and motivate the best talent. However, those trends need to be understood within the context of both your business and the macro environment. We need to be mindful of, and interrogate, the trends that emerge from the research houses. The data is continually changing and may not represent your target market. There is also undoubtedly a heavy bias towards Western Europe and North America. This still represents goliath markets, but Asia has shown significant growth in both its population and economy and it looks like Sub-Saharan Africa is next.

Figure 3: Population Growth rate 2005 - 2015

Figure 3: Population Growth rate 2005 – 2015

Generational differences need to be carefully examined along with a myriad of other cultural and social-economic traits. We need to be more conscious of the trends emerging in these regions. We are seeing average life expectancy rise dramatically within the emerging markets and many of us can expect to work well into our 70’s.

This means that while our focus is on the millennial, your current “non-millennial” workforce could still be with you for the next 30-40 years.

Many organisations have only just begun to shift their thinking in regard to their mandatory retirement age and how they treat older employees and the expertise they hold.

Thus the crux of the matter emerges. Organisations are being faced with an increasingly diverse workforce and they need to ensure that they are able to position themselves and cater for a wide range of different needs.

Axiomatic Consultants is a company that prides itself at looking at creating rewards structures that attract, retain and motivate talent (regardless of their age)!

Let us assist you in understanding, identifying and addressing your employees’ needs.

Disclaimer

Axiomatic Consultants (AC) obtains information for its analyses from sources, which it considers reliable, but AC does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of its analyses or any information contained therein. AC makes no warranties, expressed or implied, as to the results obtained by any person or entity from use of its information and analysis, and makes no warranties or merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. In no event shall AC be liable for indirect or incidental, special or consequential damages, regardless of whether such damages were foreseen or unforeseen. AC shall be indemnified and held harmless from any actions, claims, proceedings, or liabilities with respect to its information and analysis.