The notion that millennials, branded as “Generation Y,” are lazy, entitled, shallow or overconfident has been debunked. While this generation, which consists of people who were born between the years of 1980 and 2000, has its flaws, it is largely underestimated in its unique potential impact on the world.
Our society should engage them to participate and perhaps lead in various ways, not limit them to a particular preconceived label of generational incompetence.
Three characteristics that define this generation include technology, relationships and passion.
Yes, Generation Y shares everything. Facebook is no longer the sole social media platform to which millennials turn. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Foursquare, Tumblr and YouTube are among the many platforms that millennials engage with.
Where some Gen X-ers are technologically savvy, most Gen Y-ers are technologically dependent.
While most people resolve that this is a negative characteristic of this generation, it can and should be viewed as an advantage.
Although they tend to blur personal and professional lines, millennials are connected and diverse in their passions and pursuits and advocate for those interests on countless platforms. In an age when social media is becoming the chief medium in which our society communicates, Generation Y is positioned in the lead.
Ron Zemke, Claire Raines and Bob Filipczak from “Generations at Work” conclude, “They combine the teamwork ethic of the Boomers, with the can-do attitude of the Veterans and the technological savvy of the X-ers. At first glance, and even at second glance, Generation Next may be the ideal workforce — and ideal citizens.”
Millennials are entirely relational.
They arguably crave and need relationships more than any other generation, according to the article “Relationship Marketing and Millennials” by Steve Olenski.
They desire to contribute and they seek to create long-term relationships.
They want to be included in the decision-making process. They want to be brought in as respected leaders who have the potential to contribute ideas and develop concepts and strategies.
They want their voices to be heard.
Jeff Martin, CEO and founder of Tribal Brands, Inc. contributed, “Young people need to ask what matters, not be told what matters.”
An important characteristic about this generation is that it will support causes that are important to it, rather than adhere to a particular brand or organization.
They strive to give back to society by affecting the causes they are passionate about, and want to help build a better world.
Millennials, though, want to see the direct impact they are making through their work.
They desire to know that they are making a difference, and how effective they are in their work directly determines how they spend their time.
Dan Schawbel, writing for the entrepreneur’s column in Forbes Magazine, opines, “The most significant changes to our world are going on as we speak and will continue as millennials become our future leaders.
“They always need to feel like they are touching someone and making an impact, regardless of their job title.”
They need a sense of purpose and want to produce something worthwhile.
Eric Chester, writing in “Employing Generation Why” shares, “Although they are better educated, more techno-savvy and quicker to adapt than those who have come before them, they refuse to blindly conform to traditional standards and time-honored institutions. Instead, they boldly ask, ‘Why?’”
This is the generation that has lived through 9/11, war in Iraq, a turbulent economy, nuclear threats from North Korea and emerging nations such as China and India.
Yet, millennials still dedicate their lives to being bridge-builders.
They do not desire to be a part of a generation that looks back on the previous generation and laments about the decline of our country, both politically and morally.
But they use action to structure a generation that has a voice and a passion to further our country for the better.
Lauren Konkol is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.