In contrast to their Generation X parents — characterized by growing up alongside the introduction of personal computing and mass digital media — and their Baby Boomer grandparents, the values of Millennials are largely derived from the on-demand availability of information and entertainment and are accustomed to frequent and radical changes as a result of growing up alongside exponentially developing technologies. By developing alongside globalizing technologies such as the Internet and by personally observing the evolution of simple “flip” phones to “smart” phones capable of both making face-to-face video calls in real-time to anyone in the world and browsing the global Internet within a mere decade, Millennials have become unpredictably radical and highly adaptable, making traditional human resource training programs largely ineffective and incapable of satisfying and stimulating them.
The problem employers need to solve is how to improve their human resource training programs so they can properly utilize the many talents of Millennials. What the older generations fail to realize is that these individuals are who they are because of what they have observed in their adolescence: a 50% divorce rate; soul-crushing careers; inundating debt; soaring unemployment; restrictive college tuition; and bankrupting medical bills. Instead of asking how to motivate young adults to pursue careers and families straight out of college like their parents did, older generations should be asking why they would want that life at all. Millennials have the unique advantage of witnessing the results of the life choices made by their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, the results of the life choices made by people of all ages anywhere in the world, and the explosive development and ubiquitous utilization of various technologies — they are the first generation to possess both a window into the past, present, and future of the entire world and the intelligence to understand and choose the life they wish to lead.
The solution to this problem is both simple and complex. Millennials require constant stimulation and regular challenge. They require dynamic environments, individual and collective autonomy, and open access to the tools they need to overcome the challenges they face. For well-established and highly stratified organizations, providing this is almost impossible. Tomorrow’s economy requires corporations with unheard-of fluidity and employee autonomy, almost to the point of anarchy. Tomorrow’s corporations must be capable of guiding employees without dictating to them while remaining open to their suggestions, criticisms, and desires, and respond to their interests in a more technologically suitable way.