The Millennials, or 18-to-30-year-olds, are taking up ever more important roles in the workplace — but for many businesses they remain a mystery.
Demonstrating just how important they are, last week business leaders filled London’s Royal Opera House for a conference on millennials co-hosted by the Financial Times and Spanish telecoms group Telefonica.
A survey of 12,000 young people from 27 countries was presented to guests and to exemplify traits common among millennials — including how many have tablet computers (22 per cent in western Europe) and that 51 per cent of millennials are less religious than their parents.
According to the survey, there are four defining characteristics that make a millennial. Firstly, they are “digital natives” — 83 per cent of those surveyed agreed that “technology has made it easier to get a job”.
Dani Fenton, a 23-year-old marketing and PR account executive at Entice Communications, which specialises in health, fitness and beauty, confirmed the truth of the statement.
“We’re much faster with computers, if we want to search for something on the internet, for example, our search will be far more targeted,” she said.
This is particularly useful in social media. “Just the fact that we know what young people look for on the internet, what gets them ‘liking’, that helps us take the right tone in marketing products to them,” she added.
Felix Mitchell, 24, is the co-founder of Instant Impact, a company that finds paid interns for small and medium sized enterprises, agreed.
“A lot of clients come to us looking to build their social media presence and they often don’t know where to start. It’s helpful that we instinctively know that [social media site] Pinterest isn’t going to be useful to them.”
That ease with technology also allows millennials to be more flexible than any other generation.
Mr Mitchell is moving soon to run the company’s United States branch, which he launched from the UK. He said: “Skype and constant communication over the internet has made that much less daunting.”
The survey also showed that 68 per cent of millennials believe they have more opportunities to become entrepreneurs.
As Mr Mitchell explained: “The fact that me and a friend straight out of university were able to set up a company is definitely a feature of our generation.
“The cost of setting up a company is very low, all you need is a digital presence, a product and the time commitment.”
He added: “Of course that is true for older people, but our natural familiarity with things like setting up websites, and our ability to come to terms with new technology, makes it easy for us.”
The survey highlighted the spread of smartphones as 76 per cent of millennials own one.
Matthew Phillips, 27, works in the corporate arm of global concierge service, Quintissentially.
“My dad would get a fax from the office to the hotel if it was urgent. Now you have a BlackBerry, you go to sleep with it, you wake up with it. Even on days off you’re still getting emails and phone calls,” he said.
To find interns, he and his staff use their personal networks on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
He said: “Because of the platforms we use, there is that blending. It works for us very well.”
The survey also revealed that millennials are environmentally conscious as over 50 per cent believe that climate change is a pressing issue and they can positively impact their community.
Mr Phillips is a longstanding member of the Young Norwood Media Committee.
He said that while charity work has always been important to young people — Facebook makes it easier.
“You only have to look at your newsfeed to see that 400 people are going to this event and they’re talking about it,” he added.