The Avocado Generation – Understanding Millennials

The Background – 5 Generations, 1 Workplace and a Load of Millennials

In today’s workplace, managers and leaders are responsible for solving an unprecedented challenge: up to five generations; including millennials,  could be working alongside each other for the first time. Each generation bringing its own life stage, social preferences, political attitudes, cultural references and much much more. It’s a generational minefield which is very difficult to get right. (Hence the reason Greydient offers consultancy and training to employers to help with managing such an age diverse workforce.. More info here  )

The 5 generations are*,

  • iGen, aka Generation Z: born since 1998
  • Millennials, aka Generation Y: born 1981 to 1997
  • Generation X: born 1965 to 1980
  • Baby Boomers: born 1946 to 1964
  • Traditionalists: born 1945 and before

* Note the year ranges are approximates and can vary

Greydient’s focus re: older workers, is found within Generation X and falls back into the Baby Boomers and sometimes Traditionalists. Our demographic heartland though is 45+ (birth year 1973 and anything before)

However Greydient doesn’t discriminate against age, how can we? And we don’t advocate positive discrimination for our generations either. Moreover we enthuse about the benefits of an age diverse workforce, taking the good and bad of all generations and maximising the performance levels as each generation works side by side. It’s not easy though; as above,  and to get a better understanding of today’s modern workplace we need to dip deeper and take a closer look at one of the more infamous generations, the much spoken about and divisive millennials…

“we enthuse about the benefits of an age diverse workforce, taking the good and bad of all generations and maximising the performance levels as each generation works side by side”

Understanding  Millennials – and why the avocado?

The term millennial has spawn from the term Generation Y as millennials are usually considered to have reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century; otherwise known as the millennium. Which makes sense.  They are the Western’s world’s largest and most educated generation in history and have also been called the Peter Pan Generation due to their propensity to delay typical adulthood rites of passage; such as getting married or starting a career.

Negatively they are known for being self entitled, social media addicted, job hoppers who are sheltered from reality and have unrealistic expectations of the workplace. Positively they are known for being creative, tech savvy. entrepreneurial and GLOBAL. The world’s first global generation in fact.

Take a look at a millennial here..

A millennial sitting on ground and using phone

The world has a love/hate thing with our friends “the millennials” and the fact we group such a large, diverse group of individuals under one common umbrella is madness. Brands pursue them, business leaders seek to understand them, and depending on what age group you are, you tend to love them or hate them. They are marmite. And talking of food, why the avocado?

The Good, The Bad and The Avocado..

“Avocado toast isn’t just a trend, it’s a lifestyle choice”

Well, it’s a little patronising.  As the purchase and consumption of avocado toast has come to symbolise the lifestyle of a millennial. In fact, in a recent study by the Harris Poll and RealityMogul they detailed that 47% of young people aged 18-34 are choosing a renting lifestyle (over home ownership)  in order to afford small luxuries like avocado toast, dining out and of course travel. ( The other 53% were on Facebook and unavailable at the time..)

More recently Virgin Trains has been excused of this generational stereotyping too by referencing the Avocado in a marketing campaign for what became known as the “Avocard”. Initially; and in good faith, Virgin Trains produced 10,000 railcards aimed at 26-30 year olds who could use them to get discounts off travel.. But when the railcards sold out..

Virgin Trains cane under fire and launched the Avocard promotion to appease the 26-30 year olds who missed out. The promotion meant that essentially millennial travellers aged 26-30 could get the same ticket discount if they presented an avocado when booking.

Genius or a piss take? I’m not sure. But it hit a nerve…

So why do millennials get so much shit?

Because they’re brilliant? Because they’re infuriating? Or because the people doing the millennial-bashing are a lot older than them and thus bitter and jealous? Hmm… Probably all of the above, but again, how can we seek to put a blanket stereotype over such a large and diverse group. I certainly can’t do it, no, but I know a man who can..

The video below is an interview recorded in December 2016, where Simon Sinek; British/American author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant, gives his take on millennials in the workplace. He starts off with some tough love.

“millennials as a group of people, are tough to manage. They are accused of being entitled and narcissistic, self interested, unfocused and lazy – but entitled is the big one. Because they confound the leadership so much, leaders will say “what do you want?” And millennials will say “we want to work in a place with purpose, we want to make an impact, we want free food and bean bag chairs.” Any yet when provided all these things they are still not happy” Simon Sinek

Then Sinek suggests the inability of millennials to be happy in the workforce is down to 4 main factors;

  1. Failed Parenting
  2. Technology
  3. Their Own Impatience
  4. The Workplace itself

He offers a humorous and insightful view into each of these factors and in conclusion bangs the drum for this complicated generation.

“help this amazing, idealistic, fantastic generation build their confidence, learn patience, learn the social skills, find a better balance between life and technology because quite frankly it’s the right thing to do.” Simon Sinek

Full transcript here.

And a great watch below..


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