Generations X, Y, Z and millennials. We apparently all fit into these generation generalisations.
Currently there seems to be confusion as to how generation X employers should welcome a new batch of highly educated young adults into the communications sector. The millennial. Me and current university students are beginning our lives as ADULTS which sees the new age of students with responsibilities and accountability, holding down real jobs and no more sleeping through 9am lectures.
Generations Y and Z are stereotyped because the public sphere and the communications workforce don’t understand us or our upbringing in a time where social technology has boomed. Categorised as lazy, entitled and self-obsessed narcissists seems harsh. However, I believe that academic Simon Sinek’s discussion on a YouTube video about underestimating my generation in the workforce has helped to change the negative perception of the youthful population.
PR practitioners and companies have yet to put in the time to comprehend us, they are only just starting to come to the realisation of how important it is to research the new workforce – which I admit is hypocritical coming from someone who expects instant gratification – but is the first stepping stone to adapting the industry for the digital age.
Millennials process information fundamentally differently from our predecessors and its thanks to the rise of the social media empire that employers can take note of our behaviours and see the world through a millennial lens.
By 2025, we will make up 75% of the work force (Sinek, 2017). “The understanding of social network structures will become a core skill requirement for the PR practitioner in the 21st Century,” (Smith, 2013). Millennials are becoming the new age of employees, influencers and consumers and can teach Digital Immigrants (Generation x) the contemporary style of communication to stay in contact with organisations stakeholders.
We are the Digital Natives, we speak the language, we parallel process, we multitask having networked all our lives and use it with ease so know the importance of public relations using all the networking platforms available (Prensky, p.2). We are connected, team players, obviously technologically sound, multi-cultural, accept and appreciate diversity and cope in a fast pace world that never switches off. Realistically we don’t need a pool table or a slide to feel fulfilled at work.
At a recent CIPR Future PR workforce workshop fellow UWE journalism and PR students and I participated in open discussions about the expectations of PR practitioners and potential employers. What we gathered from the workshop is that employers and students are both asking equal amounts from one another. Millennials want to be challenged, be in an environment where we can continue to learn and be approached as individuals where we feel we ‘belong’. We crave and rely on precise feedback with little tolerance for ambiguity. The PR practitioner’s want employees who are enthusiastic, committed, and charismatic. They want a millennial who is proud of their work, is willing to contribute, do their own research, and to be flexible.
Millennials are like any other generation; we have our strengths and weaknesses, but need to be taken seriously. Going into the workforce we can teach our seniors a lot about using social media to positively influence, as well as being open to learn about the core duties of public relations. So, the future looks like a give and take relationship.
Andrew Smith quoted in: CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations), Brown, R. Waddington, S. (2013) Share This Too: More Social Media Solutions for PR Professionals. Chichester: Wiley publishers
Prensky, M. (2001) Digital natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon [online]. Volume 9 (No.5). [Accessed 13 March 2017].
Sinek, S. (2017) Start with why. Available from: http://www.startwithwhy.com/millennials [Accessed 10 March 2017].