Millennials This Millennials That

At a conference I was attending recently, someone at my table said with a baffling look, “I really don’t know how companies these days will be able to effectively target the millennial consumer.” Go on social media and you will see tweets and posts about millennials everywhere (I just read a tweet about millennials’ using watches as a status symbol). Countless articles talk about millennials in the workplace, how to raise millennial children, millennials and technology, and on and on and on.

Young people are different than older people, yes. But the difference is not as marked as it is portrayed in the countless conversations and articles that take place on social media and in meeting rooms everywhere.

This HBR article states that, opposite to most literature on millennials in the workplace, millennials and older workers actually have the same career aspirations. “The small differences that do appear are likely attributable to factors such as stage of life more than generational membership.”

Instead of trying to figure out “millennials”, companies should treat their customers and employees as humans first (and only), whether they are young, old or middle aged. I am sure companies would do better by focusing less on generational differences and more on who their stakeholders are right here right now, whether they are 17 or 62.