Generational Shift: What Sets Millennials Apart?

Dr. Scott Downey of Purdue University, who is doing extensive research on generational shift, has been examining the most current crop of graduates to learn more about what makes them tick in the professional environment. Recently, Downey shared his thoughts with CropLife magazine in an interview. Here we present his response to the question:

What specific traits set millennials apart?

Downey: The first one I would suggest is diversity. It’s hard to find exact information on that, but Yanklovich Inc., the market consultancy, did a study using age 24 as a definition in this group. If you use that, about 40% of African-Americans are millennials, 35% of Hispanics are millennials and 25% of Whites are millennials. About 50% of millennials are more likely to see a person of color in their age group than the generation before them was, and it’s just about as likely that English will not be the only language spoken by that person.

They tend to not be awed by authority. Part of the reason is many of them are from multiple household homes, which means they’ve had more control over their lives, and in a single family home they have often run the household. So authority isn’t all that big a deal to them. Some­times, they get accused of not respecting it, but that’s not really the case — they’re just not scared of it. This means they don’t have the fear of bosses.

They see work as much more participative, in part because they don’t believe the bosses have all the answers. There’s a logical reason for that as well — because this is a group that has been raised with information at their fingertips, so the idea that a boss has more knowledge doesn’t hold water for them. A boss may have more experience, but often times the experience and knowledge don’t always go hand in hand. They have access to the knowledge.

They’re used to multitasking, and that means they are really good at filtering multiple information sources at the same time.

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