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Addressing the generation gap – junior millennials vs. senior millennials

Millennials have been studied and targeted by marketers, but there is a tremendous difference between a senior millennial and a junior millennial.

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working millennial privilege

Beards, Uber, and roommates, oh my!

Imagine a scene where two friends are sitting down at a cafe, sipping sustainable coffee and discussing beard wax ingredients while waiting for their Uber to arrive. They are most likely posting their lattes on Instagram, updating their Tumblrs, and responding to another friend’s Snapchat while they carry on their conversation.

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It’s possible that one of these friends is going to be dropped off at his parents’ house, where he still lives, and the other friend is sharing an apartment with a few roommates near his liberal arts college.

Junior millennials versus senior millennials

It isn’t hard to pinpoint which generation these friends belong to; millennials are synonymous with social media, multitasking, artisan products, specialty brands, expensive educations and house and ride sharing. However, within the millennial generation is a wide demographic. While many junior millennials can relate, or perhaps see themselves in this scene, senior millennials can be far removed from any of these stereotypes.

Although there is still a lack of universal consensus on the timeline for when millennials were born, we opt to observe the most widely accepted definition, stating that millennials were born between 1981 and 2000. This means that Gen Xers were born between 1961 and 1980, and Baby Boomers were born between 1945 and 1960.

Oregon Trail and AOL vs. iPhones and wifi

Every generation experiences some kind of overlap, where it might be hard to distinguish one generation from the next (when groups are born on one end of the timeline spectrum). This is especially true for millennials, though. Senior millennials–those of us born closer to 1980 than 2000, have experienced a completely different childhood and adolescence than junior millennials–those born between 1991 and 2000.

For instance, while senior millennials were raised on Oregon Trail and AOL chat, junior millennials grew up with an iPhone in their pocket and were punished by mom withholding the WiFi password. In the last 25 years, technology has advanced at such a pace that the divide between senior and junior millennials is phenomenally broad, at some points pushing senior millennials closer to a Gen X mindset than a typical millennial mindset.

More factors are at play here

Besides technology, there is the reality of 9/11 (which senior millennials can recall clearly), and the economy crash of 2008 (which directly affected senior millennials, just emerging from high school and college and entering the workforce).

These factors, along with differences in trends, parenting styles and fiscal habits, have created quite a schism within the generation. This schism affects the way that senior and junior millennials view each other; it affects the way that the generation is represented; it affects the way that brands are (or should be) marketed; it affects workplace and family dynamics. 

Digging deeper into the overlap

While the millennial generation in general has been explored at length, there aren’t a lot of discussions around what it means to be a senior vs junior millennial.

We are going to return to this topic and would love to hear from you (in the comments below).

If you are a millennial, can you identify with one side of the spectrum or the other? Are you a junior millennial, frustrated by the perception that the world has of you? Are you a senior millennial, uneasy about relating to millennial stereotypes? Are you outside of this generation, making observations and puzzled by the complexities that you see? 

Or maybe–it could be that you’re just tired of all of the bearded folks on their phones taking up space at your local coffee shop? I mean, really, it is a little much.

#SrMillennials

Amy Orazio received her MFA in Creative Writing at Otis College of Art and Design, in Los Angeles. She lives in Portland now, where she is enjoying the cross section of finishing her poetry manuscript and writing for The American Genius.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Pingback: Phoenix Association of REALTORS® » Don’t Box Yourself In: Market to Everyone, Not Just Millennials

  2. Jonathan

    July 8, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Amy,
    I was thinking about the phrase “Senior Millennial Management”. And decided to google if there was something out there. Your article came up (#1).
    I read it thinking, “This person gets it!”.
    I then think, “I need to share this with the Expression58 group soon”.

    THEN I SEE YOU ARE THE AUTHOR!

    Spooky!

    To answer your question: I’m a junior millennial trapped in a senior millennial’s body. And I despise the millennial stereotype.

  3. Kameron

    July 11, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    This is a really interesting article! Thanks for posting! There’s a lot to be considered here for sure.

    For instance, for me, it’s not whether I’m a Junior Millennial v. Senior, because frankly I’m the opposite of Jonathan, a Senior Millennial trapped in a Junior Millennial’s body having been raised in family with two Senior Millennial older brothers. My parents didn’t raise me differently because I was born 4 years later which is why a lot of my memories/thoughts/etc skew to the Senior Millennial category. It would be interesting to add the “Multi-Millennial” category to the family dynamics section of something like this for both people like me and vise versa and how much your family dynamics play into your category of millennial.

    That being said, definitely frustrated with the Junior Millennial stereotype even though I know I play into it occasionally.

    Thanks for reading my short novel of a comment! Hope it makes sense!

  4. Paul

    July 11, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    I’m henceforth referring to myself as a Retired Millennial.

  5. Pingback: I am the world's oldest millennial: exploring our generation's overlaps - The American Genius

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

This story was first published in November 2020.

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Business News

How to apply to be on a Board of Directors

(BUSINESS NEWS) What do you need to think about and explore if you want to apply for a Board of Directors? Here’s a quick rundown of what, why, and when.

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What?
What does a Board of Directors do? Investopedia explains “A board of directors (B of D) is an elected group of individuals that represent shareholders. The board is a governing body that typically meets at regular intervals to set policies for corporate management and oversight. Every public company must have a board of directors. Some private and nonprofit organizations also have a board of directors.”

Why?
It is time to have a diverse representation of thoughts, values and insights from intelligently minded people that can give you the intel you need to move forward – as they don’t have quite the same vested interests as you.

We have become the nation that works like a machine. Day in and day out we are consumed by our work (and have easy access to it with our smartphones). We do volunteer and participate in extra-curricular activities, but it’s possible that many of us have never understood or considered joining a Board of Directors. There’s a new wave of Gen Xers and Millennials that have plenty of years of life and work experience + insights that this might be the time to resurrect (or invigorate) interest.

Harvard Business Review shared a great article about identifying the FIVE key areas you would want to consider growing your knowledge if you want to join a board:

1. Financial – You need to be able to speak in numbers.
2. Strategic – You want to be able to speak to how to be strategic even if you know the numbers.
3. Relational – This is where communication is key – understanding what you want to share with others and what they are sharing with you. This is very different than being on the Operational side of things.
4. Role – You must be able to be clear and add value in your time allotted – and know where you especially add value from your skills, experiences and strengths.
5. Cultural – You must contribute the feeling that Executives can come forward to seek advice even if things aren’t going well and create that culture of collaboration.

As Charlotte Valeur, a Danish-born former investment banker who has chaired three international companies and now leads the UK’s Institute of Directors, says, “We need to help new participants from under-represented groups to develop the confidence of working on boards and to come to know that” – while boardroom capital does take effort to build – “this is not rocket science.

When?
NOW! The time is now for all of us to get involved in helping to create a brighter future for organizations and businesses that we care about (including if they are our own business – you may want to create a Board of Directors).

The Harvard Business Review gave great explanations of the need to diversify those that have been on the Boards to continue to strive to better represent our population as a whole. Are you ready to take on this challenge? We need you.

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Business News

Age discrimination lawsuits are coming due to the pandemic – don’t add to the mess

(BUSINESS NEWS) Age discrimination is spreading despite intentions to help, and employers need to know how to proceed in this unprecedented era.

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Ageism void

Before the pandemic, age discrimination was prevalent in workplaces. The EEOC reports that in 2018, about 6 out of 10 workers aged 45 years and older say they experience discrimination on the job.

A 2015 survey found that 75% of older workers found age an obstacle in job hunting. COVID-19 made the situation much worse.

Not only do older workers deal with discrimination, but they are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from the virus. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, older workers were hit the hardest by job loss during the pandemic, which is unusual during a recession. As offices reopen, employers need to be careful to avoid age discrimination in rehiring.

Lawyers expect age discrimination lawsuits to increase.

Last September, Harris Meyer published an article in the ABA Journal that predicted a “flood of age discrimination lawsuits” from the pandemic. Employers who have good intentions by keeping older employees out of the workplace to protect their health are still guilty of age discrimination.

What can employers do to avoid age discrimination?

It may be fine line between making sure you don’t discriminate based on age while offering ADA accommodations. The first thing employers should do is to know what laws apply based on their location. Some states exempt employees over 65 from returning to the workplace out of safety fears, meaning that those employees can still get unemployment. Other states are cutting benefits if employees don’t return to work, regardless of age.

There are some jurisdictions that have passed legislation about which workers have the right to be recalled. Next, review your own policies and agreements with laid off and terminated employees. You may want to consult legal counsel to make sure you’re covering your bases.

As you rehire, whether you’re bringing back former employees or hiring new team members, do not make hiring decisions based on age. Keep good documentation about your decisions to terminate certain employees. If you are citing poor performance, make sure to have a record of that. Don’t terminate older employees who have bigger salaries just because of lower sales. Monitor your words (and that of your hiring team) to avoid bias in hiring and firing.

Provide accommodations or not?

According to the SHRM, “Workers age 40 and older are protected from bias by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; however, that law doesn’t require employers to make accommodations for safety concerns.”

Still, employers can provide flexibility for workers, but it largely depends on the type of job. Reaching an accommodation for an office worker will be much easier than accommodating a sanitation worker.

Employers should assume that workers aged 40 and older can return to work. When the need for help is raised by the employee, enter negotiations for accommodations. Don’t initiate the conversation, and absolutely avoid any references to age.

Know that the environment may change as the pandemic continues to affect workers.

Be thoughtful about your hiring practices moving forward to avoid costly litigation from age discrimination.

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