Over the past year I have received some surprising feedback upon telling my predecessors that I am the Lead of the Millennial Innovation Council Newsletter. Just the other day I was working on our newsletter and a few of my colleagues said “Ha, that’s hilarious, I bet you don’t even know who Prince was,” and “You probably still use your parent’s credit card.” I proceeded to ask what year they were born in, which they said was 1982. According to Wikipedia, “There are no precise dates for when the generation starts and ends, but most researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to around 2000.” While my colleagues technically fall in the Millennial age range, they refuse to associate with the term.
Why is it that being coined a ‘Millennial’ has such a negative connotation when we make up almost 50% of the global workforce? While there are all sorts of studies being published about how older generations can effectively work with and adapt to Millennials at their corporation, I think it is important to embrace the positive traits that we bring to an organization.
According to Dr. John Story, Author and Associate Professor, University of St. Thomas, Houston, “The Baby Boomers and Generation X created a Millennial Persona that embodies all of the negative labels that developed as Millennials began entering the workforce about 15 years ago. The Millennials often shun the Millennial label, because that persona focuses on differences perceived as negative, but ignores all the positive aspects of their generation. Millennials need to recognize that the Millennial Persona influences how they are perceived and treated. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers need to look beyond that Millennial Persona and manage, or market to, actual Millennial Persons.”
One of my favorite studies is PwC’s “Millennials at Work: Reshaping the Workplace,” which embraces the new generation and the qualities that we bring to companies. See below for a few of these highlights:
Willingness to Travel
Millennials have a strong desire to work overseas, and 71% of them expect to be assigned an international assignment at some point during their career. This is great news for many employers looking for global growth as well those looking to cut costs, as many countries are currently much cheaper than the U.S. Even better, over half of Millennials said that they would be willing to work in a less developed country to further their career.
Collaborating with inspiring colleagues is the environment that Millennials thrive in, something that is fundamental to Capgemini as it directly aligns with our core tenants. We are innately collaborative and accustomed to learning in teams and by doing, which allows companies to develop stronger team structures and build their networks at a faster pace.
Yvonne Harris, Capgemini NA Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Assistant Director and D&I Program Manager, shared with me, “As a member of Generation X, I feel that it is imperative that we shift our focus from all of the perceived negative connotations related to working to Millennials to the tremendous possibilities that can be gained from recognizing their immensely positive talents…and the innovation that can stem from our cross-generational collaboration. In my role managing Capgemini’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) Program, I find my time spent working with our Millennial ERG (the Millennial Innovation Council) is rewarding in that they are receptive to hearing all ideas and driving the application of creative solutions to their projects.”
Millennials’ knowledge of new and emerging technologies clearly sets us apart from our counterparts. One of the defining characteristics of the generation is our compatibility with the digital world. We have grown up with smartphones and social media as the norm, and in result expect instant access to information. This is the first generation to enter the workplace with a better grasp of a key business tools than their more senior workers.
Ambitious to Grow
A particular characteristic of Millennials is our ambition and desire to keep learning and move quickly upwards through an organization. This offers employers a unique opportunity to train their young counterparts for more senior roles that would otherwise be filled by more expensive resources.
It is in each employers best interest to work towards understanding this generation and appeal to our needs in order to attract and retain the majority of the workforce. The rate of Millennial churn is inevitable, so it is important that older generations understand our outstanding traits so that they can successfully build a Millennial working model into their organization’s fundamental mission.
Millennial Innovation Council
Capgemini’s Millennial Innovation Council (MIC) is an ERG with the purpose of encouraging collaboration across generations by providing a community for Millennials to innovate, create, and lead at Capgemini. MIC builds this community through local events and national projects that encourage coast-to-coast collaboration.
Some past events hosted by MIC include: Escape the Room, Professional Photo Day, Gardening Community Service, and the “Perception and Presence Workshop.” National projects led previously by MIC include developing Prezi content for recruitment, creating a monthly MIC Newsletter, and recording episodes for the MIC Podcast Series.
In 2016 MIC’s three strategic focus areas include:
-Hosting impactful events and initiatives
-Increasing recognition for their efforts throughout Capgemini
Contributing Author: John Story
John Story's research focuses on various dimensions of customers’ relationships with brands and on the impact of generational cohorts on management and marketing. He has done extensive research on recruitment, retention, and the educational experiences of college students.
In his industry, John has conducted research for a variety of automobile manufacturers, retailers, and service providers. His work has been published in numerous academic journals, including Journal of Business Research, Journal of Consumer Marketing, and Journal of Product and Brand Management, as well as in practitioner-focused journals, such as Marketing Management.
His Short Books on Business are available on Amazon.com.