Millennials are the Worst (Except When They're Great)

millennials differences generations

Millennials are awful.

  • They're lazy, self-absorbed, and entitled.
  • They expect the world, and don't want to work for it.
  • They're narcissistic, vain, and void of any ambition.
  • They injure themselves chasing Pokemon outside. 
  • They're just the worst.

Except, of course, when they're not.

I admit, I'm a Millennial, and we're screwing a lot of things up. I apologize. I rent a room on Airbnb instead of using a hotel. I order food via Doordash, take UBER all the time, and my attention span is less than a goldfish. I'm an absolute terror to manage. Ask my mom.

Working with the retail sector, I run into this topic a lot primarily because reps have 6-8 hours of idle time per week standing around waiting for customers and 70% of them are disengaged at work, and are often bored out of their mind. 

They'd rather be doing this than working:

And I don't blame them.

But - thousands of our users every day are these same young people who work in retail stores, and we see tons of examples of them stepping up, taking charge, chatting with customers proactively and hunting for new business. They're hungry.

All it took was giving them tools they want to use, and letting them take charge of what to do next. With younger workers, they want a new way of management, and to be given a chance.

When I think of how this used to work, I think of my grandfather, who ran a sign-painting and advertising business for 63 years. Before computer graphics and die-cuts, people would literally paint a message on a billboard. With a brush.

But he was taught. He shadowed others. He practiced. Customers let him experiment.

Millennials just want the same thing (except instead of a brush, they have a phone).

Now if you believe Google, you'll see infographics like this everywhere when you search for research on "millennials". They like to label each generation with their Pros and Cons. Is this an accurate depiction? No.


If you take a step back, you'll start to understand them better. Retailers who have awesome retention rates of their young workers seem to understand some key things about this generation:

  1. They want to be given autonomy and trust.
  2. They expect feedback immediately, not just once a quarter.
  3. They want to use tools that feel new, engaging and fast.
  4. They grew up with the Internet around them, and generally are more tech-savvy.  They harness this, like Sprint and T-Mobile have done.
  5. They want the "why" for the "what" they need to do.
  6. They have short attention spans. It's an issue. But it also means they can adapt quickly. And they know how younger customers feel/behave.
  7. They weren't taught how to hunt for sales or qualify leads, but their resourcefulness helps them learn and excel.
  8. They don't want to be called a millennial, or lazy. And they don't like eye-rolls.

Data only goes so far. The rest takes a relationship.
Millennials may be living in an age of data, but they still just want to be heard, engaged and talked to.

So talk to them. Use the channel they use. (we'll help you do this)

For example, train your staff using Snapchat or Facebook Live (happy to share examples). Or create bite-size content that is closer to a Vine video instead of a documentary.

Know that you are competing with the next Pokemon Go or LINE sticker at any moment. You must be interesting, authentic, and care about their growth.

  • Teach them that sales is about identifying and solving problems, not "selling" things.
  • Lead and inspire by showing the "why" as well as let them know what's expected.
  • Know that the more digital our world becomes, employees will crave even more interactions than ever.

Sure, some millennials can be lazy, self-absorbed, and entitled. Sometimes they suck. But sometimes they're great.

And when they are, watch out.

They're human.

About the Author

Kevin Gervais

He started coding at age 7. His first board meeting was at age 14. He was using Facebook before it was cool (2005). You'll often find Kevin thinking about the future of retail, applied AI and how to create world-class buying experiences.

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