Generational Insights | Generation Y / Millennials.+Add.Feed Info1000FOLLOWERS
Cam Marston is the leading expert on generational change and its impact on the workplace and marketplace. He explains how their generational characteristics and differences affect every aspect of business, including recruiting and retention, management and motivation, and sales and marketing.
Quick question: Which generation would you think is doing the best at saving for the future?
Baby Boomers? They’re the closest to retirement, and therefore the benefits of saving should be most immediate to them. Generation X? They’re in their peak earning years, and should have the most resources from which to feed the piggy bank.
Either would seem to make sense, and either would be wrong. According to a new Discover Bank survey shared on Nasdaq.com and elsewhere, it’s millennials who are doing the best job at saving. In a nation study of over 2,200 people, 81 percent of millennial respondents are saving in some capacity, compared to 77 percent of Baby Boomers and 74 percent of Gen-Xers.
Sure, it may be easier to save while you’re living at home. But the fact that the workplace generation furthest from retirement is saving at a greater rate than the others should also be a wake-up call to Gen-X and Baby Boomers: Don’t slack off now.
Some Baby Boomers are already retiring, of course, and others may be content enough with their portfolios to coast through their final working years. Many Gen-Xers are sending their kids off to college, which would eat up a sizeable portion of funds that might ordinarily be set aside for savings.
But millennials have their own hurdles to clear in order to save, as well – like a higher rate of student loan debt.
Trends are continuing to favor millennials as well. Thirty-five percent of them reported saving more in 2017 than in the previous year, compared to only 25 percent of Gen-Xers and 22 percent of Baby Boomers.
This might be written off as a result of millennial wages rising at a higher rate as they climb their respective company ladders. But the survey also found that 40 percent of millennials surveyed who were saved more in 2017 reported that they were able to do so through a better understanding of how to set up a budget.
If you look hard enough, there is usually something you can cut from your budget in order to increase savings. Perhaps unsurprisingly, millennials were more likely than Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers to save money through taking public transportation, while Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers were more likely to save through eating at home more often or using coupons.
While more than three-fourths of survey respondents were saving in some capacity – with nearly half of those using more than one resource to do so – 17 percent of those who weren’t said they didn’t have a reason for not doing so.
While most of us can certainly relate with the 35 percent who said they didn’t have sufficient income, the 17 percent who said they had too many bills and the 10 percent who said they had too much debt, there’s one very good reason to scour your budget and find a way to put a little something aside: Your retirement isn’t going to pay for itself.
Want to get away? If you’ve seen its commercials, Southwest Airlines believes the universal answer to that question is “Yes.”
But a large segment of Americans aren’t ready for a vacation. The thought of taking paid time off from work makes them feel guilty. They tell themselves they can’t afford to get away from the office, because no one else can fill their role. They feel the need to prove their dedication to the job, to appear indispensable.
Nearly half of those American millennials surveyed believed it is a good thing to be seen as a work martyr by their bosses, and 35 percent want to be seen as such by their colleagues – percentages that far outpace other generations and the average.
A study by Alamo Rent A Car similarly found in a 2016 survey that far more millennials (59 percent) were guilty of “vacation shaming” – feeling shame for planning or taking a vacation – than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers (41 percent combined).
Wait, haven’t we been told that one of the millennial ideals is valuing a work-life balance? And that they’re quick to leave jobs they don’t feel meet their expectations in a workplace?
Project Time Off noted that millennials’ general lack of tenure in their jobs may be a symptom of their work martyrdom, which would make it a recurring theme for those who change jobs often.
But the main cause, I suspect, is an acute knowledge of how hard it is to get those jobs – and to keep them. Millennials have grown up in an economy where jobs are often scarce and layoffs increasingly frequent. So who can blame them for wanting to seem indispensable at the office?
They’ve also grown up in an era where technology has made communication easier and more constant – meaning fewer people (44 percent, according to the 2016 Alamo study) unplug from work completely when they do take vacation.
And if getting away means taking the office with you, why take the time off at all?
But work martyrdom carries negative consequences, according to Project Time Off, and not just to airline, car rental, hotel and beach chair rental industries. As millennials move into more management roles, their attitudes will define the workplace. While a strong number of them recognize that time off is important to relieve stress and avoid burnout – and ultimately improves productivity – too many them aren’t practicing what they preach.
Go ahead and book those tickets. Bury the guilt. You’ll be glad you did – and it may just help you become a better employee in the long run.
When we discuss the differences between generations, between millennials and Generation X and the Baby Boomers and iGen, it’s important to recognize that some traits or trends that may look like characteristics of a generation are really just characteristics of all people of a certain age.
It’s with this understanding that we now see that home ownership is on the rise. According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. Census figures show that home ownership in the U.S. increased to 63.9 percent in the third quarter of 2017 – the highest level since 2014.
That’s still below what the Journal calls the “historic norm” of about 65 percent, but still a trend in the right direction for the housing market. And its main driver is the nation’s largest generation, millennials.
Not necessarily. It just means more millennials are now of an age where it makes sense to them to buy a house. About a fourth of the age range, give or take, is now over 30 – an age where even the most reluctant millennials are more likely to plunge into marriage and home ownership.
A byproduct of the rise in home ownership, the Journal notes, is a slump in the residential rental market. More millennials buying homes means fewer millennials renting them.
If you’re a landlord who got in on the gravy train while it was rolling, good for you. If not, you may have to wait a while until iGen starts hitting the market, and the cycle will begin anew.
Is Black Friday fading? It depends on who you ask.
Anecdotal evidence around the country seemed to indicate that the traditional Friday-after-Thanksgiving shopping spree wasn’t as big a free-for-all as in past years, but Forbes cited numbers from the National Retail Federation and Prospect Insights & Analytics that showed turnout to be higher than expected.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that online spending on Black Friday was a record $5.03 billion, according to Adobe Systems Inc. — up nearly 17 percent over last year. We didn’t even wait for Cyber Monday.
The ease of online shopping has taken a bite out of retail’s biggest day, but how big a bite seems to vary from year to year, often driven by factors such as the strength of the economy and even the weather.
There are still plenty of shoppers who prefer to see and touch what they’re buying before they head to the check-out. Most of them, however, are not millennials.
In fact, inc.com noted a study conducted by social media research company The Tylt found that 70 percent of the 4,300 millennials it surveyed would prefer to do away with Black Friday altogether.
It’s exhausting, for one thing. Who wants to stand in line for three hours to save $50 on a TV? And the crowds can turn ugly. We’ve all heard stories and perhaps even seen video of grown men and women fighting over Elmo dolls or video games or whatever the hot item of the year might be.
There’s even a website dedicated to cataloguing Black Friday violence around the world: BlackFridayDeathCount.com. (Ten as of this writing, according to the site, if you were wondering.)
It’s also a bit unseemly, some say, to have such crass consumerism so immediately after a holiday that has been set aside for us to remember to give thanks for that which we already have. Is it any less crass to drop a couple hundred bucks online than in the mall? Not really, but you can do it without witnesses.
It’s just easier to browse online without getting out of your chair, to check out with a click of the mouse instead of standing in line. Millennials have grown up with a mall at their fingertips and many don’t see the need to leave the house to go to a real one.
But storefronts aren’t going the way of the Dodo yet. Marketingland.com notes that many companies, online and brick-and-mortar alike, are seeking a blended approach. Amazon.com bought Whole Foods. Walmart bought online retailers Bonobos and ModCloth. Some online companies have partnered with brick-and-mortar retailers to give their digital shoppers the option of seeing and touching before they buy.
As long as there’s demand, there will be someone to fill it. We may be inching closer to the point where sleeping bags and tents are reserved for camping in the woods instead of the sidewalk in front of Best Buy, but we’re not quite there yet.
Not about classic movies, anyway. The New York Post recently cited an FYE.com survey that found that less than 25 percent of millennials surveyed had watched a movie from the 1940s or ‘50s from start to finish. Thirty percent said they’d never watched a black and white movie all the way through.
Not Citizen Kane. Not Casablanca. Not It’s a Wonderful Life. Not even Gone With the Wind, which was actually made in color in 1939.
What’s more, 20 percent of the millennials surveyed called such classic and/or black and white films “boring.”
OK, so watching Orson Welles cry over a sled isn’t quite as thrilling as a light saber duel between Darth Vader and a somersaulting Yoda or a broomstick chase through the skies over Hogwarts. But there is a reason Citizen Kane is considered one of the greatest films of all time.
That reason just has nothing to do with light sabers or broomsticks.
What does millennials’ lack of appreciation for classics say about their generation? That they lack an appreciation for art? That they avoid abstract thought? That their attention spans have shrunk to the point that story arcs must fit within a half-hour window before the details all get blurred?
Not really. Mostly, it just says they’re young.
Young people like action. As most have yet to reach the point of pondering the frailty of their own existence, they often prefer their heroes to be indestructible. As we age, we tend to have a greater appreciation for the subtleties and themes of the classics. It’s only natural, as we have seen more of life ourselves.
What’s more, the settings and situations of many classic movies often don’t resonate with millennials, who were born four decades after World War II and are three generations removed from the Great Depression.
Wartime love stories set in Morocco don’t speak to today’s young people the way they did their grandparents. Is it so wrong to tell them new love stories set in New York City like Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist or in a cancer support group like The Fault in Our Stars.
Ragging on the younger generation seems to be a cottage industry of sorts. Or at least good column fodder.
Now, in jumps a bigger fish to this putrid pond. Mitch Albom was already well-known as a longtime Detroit Free Press sports columnist before he gained even greater fame for writing Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Last month, as parents all around the country were waving goodbye as their kids left for college, Albom thought it wise to wade in with a column comparing the college students of today with those of 50 years ago.
There were some humorous lines, like one comparing the 1960s father cautioning his son not to get drunk and pass out on a fraternity lawn to the one of today noting: “You don’t want to pass out in a hot tub and have it uploaded to YouTube.”
And he closed on a conciliatory note, with the sons of the 1960s and today both expressing gratitude and some sadness as their parents left them on campus.
In between, however, were all the usual swipes at technology, entitlement and political correctness, with sideways mentions of safe spaces, Xboxes and “non-GMO, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, vegan” dining options thrown in for good measure.
Yes, times have changed and young people are different. Parents who grew up in the ‘30s and ‘40s said the same thing about their kids in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Millennials will say the same thing when they have kids.
We’ve been down this road many times before, so why do so many columnists and bloggers insist on making us walk down it again? Perhaps it’s time for a moratorium on “entitled millennial” columns. The horse is dead. Put down the club.
If a multiple award-winning columnist and best-selling author can’t do it without resorting to tired stereotypes and clichés, it’s time to let it go.
Technology and millennial demands for flexibility have conspired to convince many companies to allow their employees to not bother coming into the office. With the internet, remote messaging systems and cloud technology, there doesn’t seem to be much reason in many industries for employees to be corralled under the same roof.
While the advantages of working from home are obvious – who wouldn’t want to work in their PJs? – I cited a study in a blog several months ago showing that many millennials are actually now seeing the benefits of a more traditional office setting – particularly the interpersonal communication and the greater ease of collaboration.
Now, in a recent piece for Bloomberg, Rebecca Greenfield notes that some employers are also finding that allowing employees to work from home isn’t always such a great idea.
Greenfield interviewed the owner of a New York-based public relations firm who allowed his employees to telecommute and found that they took advantage of the perk. Some couldn’t be reached, or were lax in communicating with coworkers and superiors. One even refused to come in for a requested meeting because she’d planned a trip to the Hamptons.
It can turn into a classic give-an-inch-and-they-take-a-mile situation. In allowing employees the freedom of working remotely, they may eventually feel emboldened to set their own hours, to dictate their own terms of work.
Even those employees who work diligently from home may not be as productive. We all know the distractions that come in a traditional office setting, but those at home are often even more difficult to avoid – that pile of laundry staring you in the face, those unwatched episodes of House of Cards waiting on Netflix.
This isn’t to suggest that telecommuting isn’t here to stay in one form or another. Greenfield cited a Society of Human Resource Management study which found that more than 60 percent of organizations allow some type of it. But nearly 80 percent of those organizations also said they don’t allow it on a full-time basis.
Like anything else, telecommuting has its place under certain circumstances and with certain types of employees. Self-starters who communicate well and don’t need much supervision are ideal candidates to work remotely. And all of us run into situations – daycare issues, sick children, bad weather — where the flexibility to work a day or two from our homes makes our lives easier and our work more productive.
Those who abuse the privilege, however, won’t likely have it for long. And employers who get burned too many times may feel that it’s just not worth the hassle.
What are millennials killing next? Beer, apparently.
CNBC reported recently that millennials are drinking more wine and spirits and less beer. Goldman Sachs recently downgraded Boston Beer Company, makers of Sam Adams, and Constellation Brands, which brews Corona and Modelo, amid reports of sluggish sales.
Nielsen panel data cited by CNBC show that beer sales penetration in the U.S. is at 25 percent in the year to date, as opposed to 26 percent in 2016.
That’s right – a 1 percent decline is supposedly “killing the industry.” Clickbait, anyone?
But there may be a reason for this decline, however mild it may be. Part of the reason sales at sit-down, casual dining chain restaurants are dropping, besides the advent of “fast-casual” chains, is the growth of home-delivery and grocery pick-up options. Likewise, millennials may be drinking less beer because they go out less often.
Forbes noted that over 10,000 bars have shut down in the last decade in the U.S. due to declining clientele, as many millennials prefer doing their drinking at home. You can meet people or find a date online as easily as in a club these days. And a glass of Malbec may go better with Saturday Night Live in your PJs on the couch than a Bud Light.
But don’t worry – beer and bars will be just fine. The last time I went out for a drink, I could barely get to the bar for all the millennials packed up against it. The drink of choice for many of them? Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Your dad’s brew has become hipster cool again. Beer will survive. I’ll make sure of it.
And the numbers suggest that it’s not getting any better: The percentage of female Computer and Information Sciences bachelor’s degree recipients in this county has fallen from 37 percent in 1985 to only 18 percent in 2015.
In a recent piece for techcrunch.com, however, Goodwall CEO Taha Bawa offered hope for the future in narrowing the tech gender gap. Numbers of female undergrads entering tech-based majors are growing at top universities like Cal-Berkley and Georgia Tech, Bawa noted.
Initiatives designed to promote interest in tech and STEM fields among young female students are finding traction. Code.org’s Hour of Code campaign has drawn large numbers of grade-school girls, and other organizations like Girls in Tech, Girls Who Code, Engineering Girls and Black Girls Code are driving increased interest in STEM fields by girls. The National Girls Collaborative Project is reporting that girls are taking many high-level math and science courses at similar rates to boys.
And major tech companies like Oracle and Google are investing in programs to interest girls in coding and other STEM fields. It only makes sense: If 57 percent of the nation’s workforce is women, but women hold only 26 percent of the computing jobs in the country, there’s some pretty significant untapped potential for your future workforce there.
Here in Mobile, Ala., where I live, the local public school system has specialized Signature Academies within its high schools that allow students to focus on particular fields, including tech fields like engineering and information technology. At Davidson High School, whose Signature Academy is engineering, nearly 60 percent of last year’s freshman class in the Engineering Pathways Integrated Curriculum program was female.
While the tech industry is one place millennials don’t seem to have made much of a dent in the gender gap, iGen may have a better chance to whittle away at it.
How important is your car? Most of us would say, “very.” We are a nation that loves the freedom of private automobiles.
It may surprise you, then, to hear that 30 percent of millennials who responded in a Goldman Sachs survey had no plans to buy a car. Another 25 percent said that while a car was important, buying one was not a priority.
This particular section of the survey appears to have focused on Goldman Sachs interns, so we can assume many of them were in New York, where having a car is not a priority for many, many residents.
But it isn’t the only study showing millennials holding off on big-ticket items like a car or a home. Goldman Sach’s data, drawn from many different sources, also mirrors what we’ve known for a while about millennial home-buying – a higher percentage of them are staying at home or renting than previous generations.
Goldman Sachs sees all this as a sign that millennials are leading us all toward a sharing economy, where consumers have access to products without actually having to own them. Airbnb is a now-common example – instead of paying for a hotel room, you’re paying for a “home” for the night, week or whatever the length of your stay.
How does it work for cars? We all know about Uber and Lyft, where private drivers essentially serve the same function as taxis. But there are also car-sharing apps that allow you to drive on your own. One is Turo, which allows people to rent out their personal vehicles. Another is ZipCar (Slogan: “It’s like owning a car, without the sucky parts”), which allows customers to use a card or an app to rent cars on their own by the day or even the hour.
“Twenty-five years from now, car sharing will be the norm, and car ownership and anomaly,” economist Jeremy Riffkin told Goldman Sachs.
It’s easy to see the advantages in a major city. You don’t have to pay for parking or insurance for a private vehicle that you won’t often use – public transit being much easier to get around on – but if you want to take a weekend trip to the beach of the mountains, a car is just a click away on an app.
Most of this country is not metropolitan, however. Will car-sharing ever be prevalent, or even feasible on a large scale, in rural areas? Even many mid-size cities don’t have much in the way of public transportation other than buses. Are Americans in these towns going to want to hail a car every time they need to go to work, or the store?
Riffkin’s prediction may be a bit hyperbolic, but the greater point holds: Millennials like to travel light. They are looking for less expensive, more efficient ways to get things done. If you can give them a way to rent or share to save them from buying, and can put it in an app at their fingertips, they’re listening. And many of these solutions are becoming popular with the rest of us, as well.
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