Generation X and the Millennials

Generation X and the Millennials

Generation X and the Millennials – it sounds like the title for an action movie. But not understanding what they are could lead to drama in the board room.

We all hear people talking about Generation X and Millennials, but what does this mean, and how does it help us understand business?

Firstly let’s look at the different generations and (hopefully) identify where we are and where our potential customers are.
So let’s start with those born between 1965- 1984 – we had the cold war, hippies, punk and new romantics, and some of the worst industrial relations in living memory. Interest rates were crazy, unemployment was high and we had black and white TV and phone boxes. We didn’t grow up with the internet – I was lucky that we had a Sinclair 64 computer that was attached to a cassette deck – it had less computer power than my kids Tamagotchi. I am a proud member of Generation X.

Millennials (generation Y) were born between 1982 and 2004, the term coined by William Strauss and Neil Howe. Now although the economy had its moments during this period, there was huge technological innovation. Our communications changed completely – from home phone lines to iPhones, we saw the rise of the internet and eCommerce, and the introduction of social media. Millennials have never lived completely off line, unlike the older Generation X.

So when it comes to business, why is this important?

Millennials have different media habits to Generation X’s. They are much less likely to read a newspaper or watch TV. Millennials are heavy users of social media and predisposed to buying goods and services online. So Generation X leaders need to be cognisant of these habits – if the company they are leading does not have a strong online presence, they could be completely ignored by Millennials.

Let’s face it, in 10 years, Millennials will be running the show, making up most of the workforce, and not only will the future leaders be more tech savvy than previous generations, they will also have a social conscience. They will measure the social impact of business in addition to the financials, and this is something business leaders need to consider now.
Millennial retention will also be an issue for business, the jobs market is more international than ever, and millennials don’t expect to spend a whole career with one company. So to keep them, we have to develop strategies to utilise their skills, offer them additional training and development, and create opportunities for advancement.

So what next?– we need to think of Generation Z, our current teenagers, the ones coming after the Millennials, and what a kettle of fish they will be!

For further information on Millennials and Generation Z check out these articles: