Bridging the 'Generational Divide'

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Much of what you've heard about millennials is untrue, according to generational researcher Jason Dorsey -- but not all of it.

Delivering a keynote on"Crossing the Generational Divide: Unlocking the Power of Generations to Grow Your Business," at the AICPA Engage conference, held in Las Vegas this week, Dorsey, himself a millennial, noted the audience of accountants skewed a bit older, but assured them that he and his generation still needed the wisdom. He asked the older audience members to think what they would tell millennials on their first day of work. Their answer, Dorsey says, "reflects on your own generation" and how you were brought up. This, he said, reflects how millennials are managed in today's workforce.

While admitting that there were a lot of stereotypes about his age group that were true -- including that millennials are "on average...up to five years older [than Boomers]" when they start their first jobs -- that his age group are still in fact the ones being hired now for B2B decisions, and that everything he showed the audience on Monday would "only accelerate going forward." While millennials can be seen as "unemployed and lazy," Dorsey promised that they are still the largest generation represented in the workforce today.

Dorsey touched upon the two biggest drivers on how millennials behave in the workforce: parenting (from Boomers) that left them expecting constant attention and protection, and their constant relationship with technology, a relationship, he said, is "invisible" until millennials are confronted with people of different tech backgrounds.

"We are a generation who can text 5,000 times a month, but never talk on the phone," Dorsey said. This, he predicted, is where generational divide occurs in the workforce. "Technology is only new if you remember how things were the way before," he added.

The other large driver for millennials is college debt, Dorsey stated.

"[Millennials] have more college degrees than any other generation," but that also means the most amount of debt, he said. These large amounts of debt "delay major life commitments," and with that, delayed adulthood. He asked the audience at what age they think consider millennials to be adults. In his own research, millennials on average put that number at 30.
To retain millennials, Dorsey suggested three main tactics: Providing and living the examples of how you want them to act, providing ongoing feedback, and never starting new employees on a Monday, as it's the worst day of the week for all employees.

For more on Dorsey and his research, head to his site here.

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