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Understanding the Millennial Generation: Bridging the Gap

Posted on 03/01/2016

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, “We’re dealing with a lot of tender little egos. They have to be told they’re Bryan Cliftonloved quite frequently.” While you may assume this is a statement made about the millennial generation, it is from 1969—about the baby boomers. Or what about this one, “You might want to laugh derisively the first time one of your youngest subordinates tells you he intends to work a mere 40-hour week so he can go scuba diving and learn a non-Indo-European tongue.” This is from 1990 about Gen X.

Many people are quick to pick on Millennials, but they seem to have a short memory about how previous generations talked about them. When a new generation enters the workforce, they think and act differently than others. Rather than point fingers and assume others are wrong, both sides need to take the time to understand what other generations value and view as important.

As of 2015, Millennials have surpassed Gen X to be the largest generation in the workforce. You can no longer use the excuse that you don’t understand Millennials. If you don’t understand them by now, you need to make it a priority. They are now the largest part of the workforce and also an increasing amount of the market likely to buy your products or services. With that in mind, here is a crash course on some quick tips you need to know about Millennials.

  • Loosely defined as anyone born between 1980-2004.
  • They are the most educated generation in US history.
  • They carry large amounts of student loans and other forms of debt.
  • 56% have put off major life decisions because of high student loan debt.
  • The average college graduate with a bachelor’s degree has $30,000 in student loans.
  • The median job tenure for workers age 20-24 is less than 16 months.
  • The median job tenure for workers age 25-34 is 3 years.
  • Millennials actually stay with their employers longer than Gen X workers did at the same ages. In fact, more Gen Xers spent less than one year at any one job.
  • They want to work with people they like, in comfortable surroundings, and they want a good sense of how they are doing and where they're going.
  • Millennials are a values-driven generation attracted to brands that stand for something. 84% of Millennials will consider a brand’s values before making a purchase.

At the core, all generations want similar things. We want to work in an environment that we enjoy with people we like being around. Each generation brings a unique way of thinking to organizations, and we are better off when we utilize our differences towards a common goal.

Many misconceptions exist about Millennials. Likewise, Millennials have misconceptions about other generations. The way to bridge this gap is to have meaningful conversations and be open to learning how different generations communicate, what they value, and how they make decisions.

Keep in mind if you have met one Millennial, then you have met one Millennial. Stats do not reveal how the person you are interviewing will respond, nor will it tell you how they will perform in the job. Take the time to get to know us. I think you will be surprised with what you will find.


Bryan Clifton is the Founder & CEO of Myriad Insight. He serves remarkable entrepreneurs as a strategist and advisor. You can read more from Bryan at www.bryanclifton.com.

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