The previous article on this topic highlight four important characteristics of the Millennial demographic and mindset: Millennials are now between the ages of 18 and 37, Millennials do not feel obligated nor restricted to historical expectations, Millennials are the current innovators in the world, and the ‘Millennial brand’ is subject to harsh criticism due to their means of expressing individualism. However, while these issues haven’t yet tipped the social scale in anyone’s favour, it is the economics of Millennials that have got everyone anxious.
It is forecast that by 2020, 75% of the world’s workforce will be made up of Millennials. That’s three years away! This statistic is both shocking and fascinating as it will soon be revealed to be ‘bittersweet’. Bitter in the sense that Millennials will have to work harder than previous generations, yet sweet in the sense that Millennials will be rewarded very generously.
Millennials are slowly rising up and away from the social hierarchy in pursuit and in favour of a world and workforce unhindered by education, location or wealth. Having observed the successes and failures of previous generations including parents and grandparents, Millennials are now prepared to bet the future on themselves and this process has caused a massive disruption in both business and social environments. And in either case, those who are willing to change are benefiting greatly while those who resist it continue to fight an ‘uphill battle’.
First let us consider the business environment of the world. Traditionally, business (of any scale) has predominantly been left up to the middle and older age groups of society to control and operate with very little acceptance of change to this structure. This isn’t exactly a mindset recently established but history shows many younger generations having to earn their way to the top through years of service and dedication to the business, and only now with Millennials is this no longer the norm. Almost of a daily frequency the business community sees the next ‘big thing’ coming from a Millennial who only used a laptop and the Internet. In light of recent business technology developments, Millennials now have had long enough exposure to VR, geolocation, encryption and communication technology with there now being no excuse for them to develop other aiding and complementary products to aid humanity and transform it into a business.
Millennials are creating businesses and industries which never existed 5 years ago or even yesterday. Millennials are simply taking control of any business opportunity that has slipped through the grasp of big business and have turned it into a billion dollar business (a million dollars for a successful millennial isn’t enough anymore). The latest figures from the World FactBook show Gross World Product at US$78trillion (2015), and it is estimated that almost 17 cents of every dollar is made by Millennials. This statistic and percentage can only be expected to increase if not double in the coming years as the Millennial workforce expands and becomes more commercialised and opportunistic.
On the other hand, Millennials have in some cases drawn the short straw when it comes to social and living environments. Through no fault of their own, Millennials have been either forced out to the (urban) periphery or back in with Mum and Dad because of a recurring affordability (and housing) crisis. For Millennials who are coming straight out of education, and have low income with massive student debts, there is little forgiveness nor sympathy given to those Millennials aged 18 to 24 who haven’t been exposed to the real world as older Millennials and older generations. As a result, communities around the world are experiencing their highest recorded rates in the 18 to 24 age bracket of: unemployment and underemployment, homelessness, and mental illness. And while the world celebrates the ingenuity of a select few Millennials from around the world, it is not a correct representation of the Millennial the world wants to see.
Furthermore, the family dynamics and stages of marriage and child-rearing are being developed slower and at later ages to accommodate for the fast changing paces of business and lifestyle. With the world embracing the career driven nature of Millennials, this comes as no surprise to governments, businesses and parents.
Millennials no longer fear the burden of expectation which has been instilled in them at a young age to excel at whatever they do. Whether it be familial or cultural expectation, Millennials are constantly looking to defy traditional dogma and construct their own understanding of what it means to run or work in a business, and what it means to separate work from a social and family environment. Although some oversight and assistance is still required by older generations, this should remain at an arm’s length as this will provoke the innovation and intelligence of Millennials to overcome situational adversity and conflict.