By 2025, Millennials will account for three-quarters of working-age people. Although Gen Y will soon make up a majority of the workforce, it will still be a number of years before they constitute the lion’s share of the top-level of leadership. For now, the focus remains how to compensate and motivate your Millennial workers. To achieve this, we need to understand who they are and what they want from their sales careers and personal lives.
Millennials are a cause-based generation. They have a different set of values to their Gen X and Boomer colleagues. They need a greater purpose in their life beyond work, and they need the work to have a greater purpose than just generating money. They don’t just talk about work-life balance. They live it, much to the disappointment of their boomer and gen X managers. They actually do want to take their holidays and they do want their benefits packages, and they use them, and they do want to make a difference in the community. They want to sell things that actually matter.
William Strauss and Neil Howe, authors of Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069, are credited with coining the term Millennials. They define the Millennial generation as people born between 1982 and 2004. Other proposed dates for Millennials include Iconoclast, a consumer research firm, who suggests the first Millennials were born in 1978. The New York Times categorized Millennials at 1976-1990 and 1978-1998. A Time magazine article placed the Millennials at 1980-2000.
They are, many Gen Xers have claimed, the generation of digital pioneers; a generation who, from a young age have had access to laptops, smartphones and the internet.
Millennials seek different rewards from work life compared to their Gen X and Boomer counterparts. They are generally more independent, cause-driven and push back because they want to feel that they are making a difference and won’t settle for less.
Far too much commentary connected with Millennials in sales jobs oversimplifies who they are and what they have grown up with. While it is true that your average Millennial is far more adept with a smartphone (90% of Millennials sleep with their phones) or a chatbot than their seniors, it’s way too easy for leaders of sales teams to pigeonhole all Millennials.
The Millennial generation could also be understood as two over-lapping sub-groups. Those born in the late 70s and early 80s and those born after the spread of the internet. It wasn’t until the early to mid-1990s that ‘computer suites’ at schools, light-weight mobile phones with SMS functionality, and satellite TV replaced word-processors, car-phones, radio, and a handful of TV channels. By the time the 80s kids were near high-school age, things changed.
By contrast, those members of today’s salesforce born in the late 1980s and 1990s – let’s refer to this group as the ‘younger Millennials’ have never known anything other than search engines, social media and exponential growth of online technologies.
While all Millennials have plenty of traits in common, it is the 20-somethings – or, as some argue Gen Z – those who can hardly recollect a time before wireless internet, social media and constant global interconnectedness – who can more accurately be considered the first true swathe of digital natives.