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"As Millennials move into management and executive positions, more agencies will foster freethinking, unique work styles (death to the 9 to 5) and an increase in collaboration and leadership regardless of skill level and experience."
"For Millennials, spurring positive change is engrained in how they perceive the world. Nothing is sacred, everything can be improved."

Cody Simmonds, Struck

How the Industry Can Work with Millennials to Drive Positive Change

Experience Prototyping

Whatever you choose to believe about Millennials, a key differentiator of this group is a lack of respect and obligation towards traditional structures and processes. According to Iconoculture, Millennials are much less likely to value justice, integrity and duty. On the flip side, they are significantly more likely to value passion, diversity, sharing and discovery.

Whether you choose to believe they’re privileged, entitled or hypersensitive to failure, Millennials are a passionate, self-motivated generation who want to drive meaningful change through collaboration, transparency and ingenuity.

Pew reports that adults ages 18 to 34 currently make up 1 in 3 of workers in the United States. By 2030, they will encompass almost 75% of workers (predicts the US Bureau of Labor Statistics). As this generation inundates the marketing world, we’ve heard hundreds, if not thousands, of opinions and perspectives on Millennials, and every passing year brings a handful of new trend reports and listicles on what makes Generation Y different.

So, how can we as an industry work with Millennials to drive positive change?

As agencies, it’s critical that we encourage and enable the Millennial desire for discovery and ingenuity. Millennials expect all experiences to be seamless – even those found in the workplace. They thrive in a work culture that provides freedom to experiment and challenge traditional approaches to problems. And as Millennials move into management and executive positions, more agencies will foster freethinking, unique work styles (death to the 9 to 5) and an increase in collaboration and leadership regardless of skill level and experience.

This emphasis on family time over work time is reinforced by the industry trend towards more flexible work schedules and a larger list of benefits (often in lieu of greater compensation). And, as Millennials fill up desks and conference rooms, we will continue to see the industry focus shift more towards building relationships over making a living, and quality of work and experience over rigid work schedules. Millennials will look for ongoing support from managers in place of annual performance reviews. Managers will act as coaches and build relationships with employees through ongoing dialogue.

Additionally, Millennials tend to stray away from restrictive business systems and software. They have spent years taking virtual classes and communicating socially online and thus gravitate towards technology and tools that focus on connectivity and seamless user experience. In a totally connected world that relies on technology such as instant chat, video conferencing and tools like Slack, physical location loses its importance during team construction. Now, agencies have the opportunity to leverage technology to create integrated, high functioning teams that span across the globe.

For Millennials, spurring positive change is engrained in how they perceive the world. Nothing is sacred, everything can be improved. And because driving change isn’t formulaic, predictable, or one-size-fits-all, the Millennial inclination towards discovery and ingenuity through collaboration and transparency will lead to a wide range of solutions for problems that have long been a part of traditional professional culture.

About the author:

Cody grew up in Dallas, Texas and graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in International Communications and a minor in German. Cody’s agency experience includes expertise in account planning, strategy, research, analytics and product innovation. When Cody is not knee-deep in market research crafting astute strategy for clients, he is traveling to new places, playing guitar or video games and training for his first half marathon.

Rikki Teeters is passionate about creating a better future for humanity — one experience at a time. She has devoted her life to making both digital and physical interactions more human. After studying Interaction Design at Miami University, Rikki pursued her love of design and technology by entering the field of UX. “She served as a contributor to this article.”