There are endless discussions about how business leaders need to connect with Millenials and how that affects the planning, design and programming of real estate. Initially, identifying the Millennial cohort was useful, just as it was once helpful to think of distinctions between Boomers and Gen X (I can’t remember the last time I heard about Gen X!).
But that usefulness comes up short when defining real value in a real estate property. I realized this in a recent marketing planning discussion, when one of our teammates raised the question: “How do we appeal to both Boomers AND Millennials?”
It’s time for more granular segmentation, and I prefer to look at life experience rather than birth chronology. To kickstart the discussion, here are twelve life experiences that could be associated with Millennials but also resonate with younger as well as older generations. Rather than generalities, they all describe what could be individual personality traits and values held by particular communities. In other words, these are human experiences in our technology-driven, wealthy, and fast-moving world, and the feelings they trigger about what matters most for us.
This is one of a series of thought pieces to explore ways to break down limiting concepts of generation cohorts and other demographic labels, to concentrate on life experiences and what we are calling Urbanology and the Human City experience.
This concept initially triggered thoughts about how communities are affected by technology-driven speed and powerful connectivity wherever we go. It’s become difficult to shut off work in the evenings and on weekends and holidays, something people from ages eleven to eighty-eight are experiencing,. Forbes calls it a “Multigenerational, overlapping demographic of people living and working in the fast-paced, interconnected world of today.”
Generation Workforce Fluid
Cecile Alper-Leroux studies how people customize their physical settings as a way to shape and express their individuality, and how employers can design environments in ways that allow flexibility to do so. She coined the term Workforce Fluidity to describe the continually changing needs of employees and their approach to doing work.
Nearly half of all employment in the US will be freelance...in 2 years! For these people, companies are not providing work and benefits. Contract workers are the CEOs of their own careers and lives.
Millennials seem to be stuck with the label of the most anxious generation. But having gotten this far in my short post, can’t we all relate at least a little?
Millennials may have grown up with gadgets but the addictiveness of social media, the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, and the latest hardware technology have most of us pulled in many directions.
We used to call it post-graduate education. Then lifelong learning. Now companies are focused on “reskilling” as a competitive workforce necessity. Some resent the extra work of continuous education, but many of us love to learn. Like it or not, we must if we are to succeed in our knowledge economy.
If technology brings out our inner child, perhaps it is the final age-flattening effect allowing us to be forever young by remaining forever curious. Some people are innately curious, but curiosity can be stimulated to greater levels that can turn into activities like seeking answers, exploring and gathering data.
A Google search for "work life balance" returns 43MM results (vs. 500k for “working harder”). Up to a million related keyword searches are made every month. This is only one example of the many seemingly opposing qualities associated with Millenials. But it turns out the most of us share the same values when it comes to what we really want at work (and in life).
Wellness is a response to the Western idea that the job of medicine is to treat sickness. In the face of endlessly rising healthcare costs, older people are seeking wellness for pennies on the dollar over medical care, not to mention much greater quality of life. Many industries are chasing the trend, as seen in the real estate marketplace from well building technologies to wellness community development helping younger generations to grow up with those values.
Environmental sustainability is increasingly a priority in real estate, but even with today’s polarizing political climate we can’t say it’s exclusively a left-leaning value or for just for young liberals, either. And now sustainability is expanding to include enduring communities, wellness, and economic “ecosystems,” in addition to the natural environment.
Old beliefs make us think of Boomers as being responsible, but there are many examples of the responsible behaviour of younger generations...and the imperative for much greater responsibility in the decades to come, as our culture faces challenges that loom larger by orders of magnitude. Or is that just the Generation Anxious in us speaking?
To further make the point that no generation can be summed up by a single quality, we’ve seen countless descriptions of young people being uncommitted and undecided, and on the other hand descriptions of passion for skill development. While it is inarguable that older people have had more time to deepen their skills, an appreciation for the virtues of mastery are exhibited by many individuals...but of course not all!