Paul Sohn on Millennials

I happened to be in a set of meetings recently, one of which was on the topic of Millennials led by Paul Sohn, author of Quarter Life Calling. I took some notes and thought you might be interested in what he had to say about the age group we are working with.

Millennials have been called many things: Gen Y, Echo-Boomers, Net Gen., Peter Pan Gen., Digital Natives, Gen Screwed.

In any case there are 92,000,000 millennials. They are the largest generation since we’ve been keeping track. By 2020 they will constitute over 50% of the global workforce.

We’ve known all along that millennials connect through social media. Their preferred ways of connecting are: 47% text, 38% social media, 38% IM, and 16% email. The value of social media is that we can have a relationship with leaders. Twitter allows us to communicate directly with them. However, Sohn admitted that millennials are “becoming emotionally un-intellectual”.

There is a lot of discussion about Millennials and work. Sohn says, “Jobs are everything.” They aren’t motivated by money. But they want to make enough money to do the things they want to do. They don’t like grunt work. They are obsessed with entrepreneurship. They are independent and creative.

In terms of involvement in causes, they support the cause, not necessarily the organization. This is important in that we need to start with the “Why?”, not the “What?”. Sohn referred to Simon Sinek’s Start with Why. They like to connect with technology and they share in micro ways. (I want to learn more about that.)

When it comes to volunteerism, millennials look for a continuum of support. In order for us to retain volunteers that are millennials, we need flexible opportunities. They look to leverage networks and see their efforts as part of career building. They long to engage their skills. And their biggest pet peeve? Wasting time, not seeing “Why am I here?” Right up there with wasting time is not having online training. If we think they should sit through a training program, we’ve lost them.

Might there be some things here in how we develop millennials in next year’s incoming freshman class? Or even how we engage millennials joining us as staff and interns?

Ending the Year Well


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