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Understanding millennial workers

With more millennials entering the workforce, it’s best to understand this new generation.


Recent projections note millennials are on pace to make up half the workforce by 2020.

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Chances are, you already have some millennial workers in your employ.

However, according to an article published on pewresearch.org earlier this year citing population estimates released in April 2016 by the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials have already surpassed baby boomers as the country’s largest living generation.

Millennials, whom the article defined as those ages 18 to 34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million baby boomers (ages 51 to 69).

With that said, more and more millennial workers are joining the ranks, and as usual, the younger and older generations are clashing.

Related article: How to hire and retain millennials

According to Bruce Tulgan in his article, “Millennials’ workplace impact,” to be featured in the November issue of Professional Carwashing & Detailing, “Of course, the older, more experienced workers at your carwash may be more or less annoyed by the attitudes and behavior of each successive new young generation. New young employees are, by definition, always younger and less experienced and, therefore, lacking in the corresponding maturity and patience.”


But, Tulgan argues, millennial workers are often misunderstood because other forces are at work that have greatly affected their upbringing:

  • Globalization. Second wave millennials (born between 1990 and 2000) will be the first truly global generation — connecting and traveling to work across borders in every direction and combination. Unlike any other generation in history, millennials can look forward to a lifetime of interdependency and competition with a rising global youth-tide from every corner of this ever-flattening world.
  • Technology. The pace of technological advance today is unprecedented. Information. Computing. Communication. Transportation. Commerce. Entertainment. Food. Medicine. War. In every aspect of life, anything can become obsolete any time — possibilities appear and disappear swiftly, radically and often without warning.
  • The information environment. Second wave millennials are the first true “digital natives.” They learned how to think, learn and communicate in a never-ending ocean of information. Theirs is an information environment defined by wireless internet ubiquity, wholesale technology integration, infinite content and immediacy. From a dangerously young age, their infinite access to information and ideas and perspectives — unlimited words, images and sounds — is completely without precedent.
  • Virtual reality. It’s not just that they are always looking down at their hand-held devices. Millennials are always totally plugged into an endless stream of content and in continuous dialogue — through social-media-based chatting and sharing and gaming — with peers (and practical strangers) however far away (or near) they might be. They are forever mixing and matching and manipulating from an infinite array of sources to create and then project back out into the world their own ever-changing personal montage of information, knowledge, meaning and selfhood.

Related article: Managing millennials at work

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