Who are these Millennials, the next rising generation?

Recently, the millennials have surpassed baby boomers to become the country’s largest living generation, according to the Pew Research Center. Millennials are the children of the boomers are on track to dominate the 21st century, similar to the GI Generation’s dominance of the 20th century.

millennials misunderstood 2The millennials are the generation that grew up with “Babies on Board” stickers, Bill Clinton, Hurricane Katrina, 9/11 and war. They are the most affluent generation, best educated and most ethnically diverse North American generation ever.  They are the only generation to see their fellow citizens killed or left to die in their country; as in 9/11 or the Katrina experience.

They are the only generation to see political leaders, business executives and sports heroes lie without receiving punishment. These experiences shaped the millennials’ culture; it forced them to distrust their original view of corporations and the political infrastructure.

Millennials have grown up with the world watching them and who have watched the spin tactics and marketing tactics of the last era with disbelief. This is the generation which asks ‘Is this true?’ and then uses technology to prove it false.

Millennials are also the only generation to live through multi-step parent families as the norm for many. The nuclear family that was once depicted in television shows familiar to many of us, such as Leave it to Beaver or Father Knows Best, is an unfamiliar concept to many millennials. Primarily because of high divorces rates many millennials have never lived very long in a home with a traditional nuclear family, their families were a mix of adults who included their primary caregivers live-in companion or a stepparent. Millennials idealize marriage, children and value religion.

Over the last 15 years, millennials have grown from being the “apple of their parent’s eyes” to defendants in lawsuits instituted by the recording industry, to an online majority who watched the destruction of the economy and the American dream. Rather than emerge as bitter players, they have emerged with a new sense of hope that is similar to the new spirit felt after WWII.

Millennials have very strong values that have been shaped millennials misunderstood 1by the tumultuous history that precedes their 13th birthday. Their values will lead to the rebirth of unions, the emergence of a new, ethnically diverse nuclear family and the rethinking of old age pensions programs such as Social Security and the Canada Pension Plan.

Research indicates Millennials, the once spoiled generation, are emerging as traditionalists, closer in values and culture to the generation that fought in WWI and WWII.  Their social networks, writing and lifestyle are demonstrating their fondness for fairness, and peer-to peer-sharing.

What all this means for employers is that they need to drastically change how they approach a generation that has been assumed to consist of pampered brats who will amount to no good.