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The Millennial Opportunity

The organizations that best understand and adapt

to America’s largest living generation today will have the top talent, the best leaders and the most engaged customers tomorrow.

In the spring of 2016, millennials, defined roughly as those born in the ’80s and ’90s, surpassed baby boomers as the nation’s largest living generation.1 In 2015 they became the largest generation in the U.S. labor force,2 and by 2025 they’re expected to make up 75% of the workforce in the U.S.3 And size does matter when it comes to generational dynamics.

The majority of today’s business leaders are baby boomers and Gen Xers. When they came of age, baby boomers were the largest generation in U.S. history, and their buying habits, global views and work preferences shaped the business world of the last 50 years. Gen Xers are a much smaller generation, and without the same power in numbers of the generation before them, they were forced to adapt to the workplace norms established by baby boomers. Now as the world’s newest largest generation reaches their prime working and spending years, millennials will reshape the next 50 or more years of the business and economy, just as their boomer parents did decades before them.

As they gain more responsibility in the workplace and more buying power every day, it’s essential that businesses take the time to understand them, know how to work with them, and attract them as employees and clients. Whether or not you admire this generation, millennials are a part of your future and it is crucial that they are a part of your business plan. Because the organizations that best understand and adapt to millennials today will have the top talent, the best leaders and the most engaged customers tomorrow. 

What Makes A Millennial

Several life-changing events defined millennials uniquely from earlier generations. For example, growing up with the internet means they expect immediate access to information; witnessing 9/11 and its aftermath makes them resilient in the face of fear and conflict; coming of age during the Great Recession leads them to delay major adult milestones like marriage; and leading a social media revolution means they demand constant connectivity and innovation. Many boomer parents acknowledge they raised their millennial children with more empowerment and flexibility than they received as children. For millennials now in the workplace, this translates to a desire for mentorship, leadership training and variety in career paths. Millennials don’t view work as an activity that needs to be balanced with the rest of their life. Rather work is a key part of life, making the stakes high for businesses looking to optimize them as leaders and decision makers.

Digital Is In Their DNA

Most everyone enjoys the conveniences of modern technology, but for millennials this technology is
almost lifeblood. After all, the digital world is where they form friendships, share memories, find jobs, make purchases and spark romantic relationships. And for many of them, it’s tough to remember life before we could do almost anything from the palm of our hands. In fact, the youngest millennials were just 5 years old when Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook and 7 years old when Steve Jobs presented the first Apple iPhone to the world.

The pervasiveness of digital in millennials’ lives means they expect companies to be innovative in how they do everything – from delivering performance feedback to giving hungry customers visibility into the status of their pizza delivery. 

The youngest millennials were just 5 years old when Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook.

Turn this insight into action

To optimize millennials as employees, leaders and customers, consider how you can use technology throughout your business to enable employee work/life flexibility, positively engage customers at every stage of the customer experience, support back-office workflows and enable personal development.

If you don’t have the resources to develop the Uber of your industry, you can start small with your website, job application process and social media presence. You don’t need to design and develop a 100-page website to get this right. Just ensure your website — even a one-page website — is easy to find and navigate, and mobile-friendly. Your job application process can be simple and straightforward, as long as it’s easy to search and apply for jobs, even from mobile. Finally, managing your social media presence on a few key platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Glassdoor, can also go a long way in not only recruiting talent, but in cultivating both new and existing customer relationships. These are low-cost and effective ways to get started.

A Diverse Group Of Individuals

The millennial cohort is stereotyped as entitled, self-absorbed and unreliable, but this generational view misses the mark, and – like all stereotypes – grossly oversimplifies a diverse group of individuals. For
this reason, most millennials don’t identify with the millennial label.5 Rather, they view themselves and
want to be recognized as individuals.

In fact, they are one of the most diverse generations in the U.S., second only to those born after 1999,1 and more than half (56%) of minorities in 2015 were millennials or younger.4

73% of millennials influence or make buying decisions on behalf of a business.

Turn this insight into action

The generation’s strong sense of individuality can be cultivated to appeal to both millennial employees and buyers through customization. Some of the smartest B2C companies have already figured out how to offer customization as a product – think My M&M’S®, Spotify and Build-A-BearTM.

Consider how you might promote individuality and customization in the workplace by offering flexible hours, customizable jobs and career paths, rotational programs, or the ability to determine your own job title, as examples. Likewise, look for opportunities to customize your products, marketing and sales messages to speak directly to the 73% of millennials who are influencing or making buying decisions on behalf of a business.6

Valuing Authentic, Personal Relationships

Don’t mistake millennials’ desires for digital interaction to mean they don’t value personal relationships. Mentorship and feeling personally connected to their work is extremely important to millennials. In fact, a 2016 Gallup report finds that the best way to keep millennials engaged and performing at their best is to ensure managers meet with them frequently to provide consistent communication and feedback.7 Further, Gallup reports that 87% of millennials say professional development is important in a job,7 and a PwC study found that millennials prefer training and development to cash bonuses.3

This demand for personal interaction with employers extends to millennials’ expectations of vendors and brands, as well. Millennials also “value authenticity – they want to feel like they have a personal and direct interaction with that brand."6

87% of millennials say professional development is important in a job.

Turn this insight into action

As an employer and recruiter, you should consider all of the unique characteristics of millennials as you design your people management, performance feedback and recognition programs. Develop management programs that teach people managers how to be transparent, stay connected, and become guides, coaches and trainers. Design your performance feedback program to digitally deliver frequent, in-the-moment feedback. And don’t forget to reward good work in a customized, meaningful way.

As buyers, millennials “prefer to observe what it’s like to interact with products or services providing multifaceted sensory content."6 Consider how you can design your marketing and sales efforts to provide anecdotal evidence and educate buyers. The format of your messaging is also important, with millennials preferring video content that they can watch on demand.

Working For The Greater Good

Because work is a key part of life, millennials crave work that’s personally fulfilling and expands their
social network and skills. And as the most socially conscious generation since the 1960s, feeling connected to a larger purpose is a key factor in their job satisfaction. As buyers, working for a greater purpose means millennials seek to do business with companies that are socially responsible. In fact, 80% say that the social, environmental or philanthropic efforts of companies are important to their purchase decisions.8

80% of millennials say that the social, environmental or philanthropic efforts of companies are important to their purchase decisions.

Turn this insight into action

As a company looking to optimize the millennial opportunity, this means you need to connect the mission of your business to something greater, and make that part of your conversation with employees, candidates, prospective clients and others. Employees and candidates want to feel connected to and passionate about a shared business purpose. This does not mean that you have to calculate your environmental footprint or donate half of your proceeds. Many organizations discover that activities which drive profits are also driving a greater good. Is your business creating jobs directly or indirectly? Do your employees offer their time and money to the community you are in? Do you offer a different way of doing business that instills trust or brings people together? Perhaps you do this in an industry where a human element is otherwise lacking?

How Can We Help You Plan For The Future Of Your Business?

Texas Capital Bank sees millennials not as a problem to be solved or managed, but as an opportunity to be optimized. Our deeply experienced bankers are well-versed in the trends and topics that affect your business, such as the millennial opportunity. Plus, our network is your network; we’re always happy to connect our clients with contacts in our network who have expertise on a particular topic.

Contact a Texas Capital Bank relationship manager to discuss the future of your business.

Contact Our Experts
  1. Pew Research Center, “Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation.” http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/25/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/ (Sept. 22, 2016).

  2. Pew Research Center, “Millennials surpass Gen Xers as the largest generation in U.S. labor force.” http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/11/millennials-surpass-gen-xers-as-the-largest-generation-in-u-s-labor-force/ (Sept. 21, 2016).

  3. Pollak, Lindsey, 3 Things Every Employer Needs to Know About Millennials. http://www.lindseypollak.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Lindsey-Pollak-3-Things-Every-Employer-Needs-to-Know-About-Millennials.pdf (Nov. 4, 2016).

  4. Pew Research Center, “Biggest share of whites in U.S. are Boomers, but for minority groups it’s Millennials or younger.” http://www.pewresearch.org/facttank/2016/07/07/biggest-share-of-whites-in-u-s-are-boomers-but-for-minority-groups-its-millennials-or-younger/ (Sept. 21, 2016).

  5. Pew Research Center, “Most Millennials Resist the ‘Millennial’ Label.” http://www.people-press.org/2015/09/03/most-millennials-resist-the-millennial-label/ (Sept. 21, 2016).

  6. Sacunas, B2B Report Millennials. http://www.sacunas.net/lib/pdf/Millennial-B2B-Report_Sacunas-web.pdf (Nov. 4, 2016).

  7. Gallup, How Millennials Want to Work and Live. http://www.gallup.com/reports/189830/millennials-work-live.aspx?utm_source=gbj&utm_mediumcopy&utm_campaign=20160511-gbj (Nov. 4, 2016).

  8. Meister, Jeanne C. and Willyerd, Karie, “Spotlight on Leadership: The Next Generation. Mentoring Millennials: Delivering the feedback Gen Y craves is easier than you think.” Harvard Business Review. http://managingmultigenerationalworkforce.pbworks.com/f/Millenium.pdf (Nov. 4, 2016).


    Neither Texas Capital Bank nor any other subsidiary of Texas Capital Bancshares, Inc. will be responsible for any consequence of reliance upon any opinion or statement contained herein or for any omission. No part of this document may be reproduced in any manner without the prior written permission of Texas Capital Bank. Under no circumstances is Texas Capital Bank liable for any lost profits, lost opportunities, or any indirect, consequential, incidental, special, punitive, or exemplary damages arising out of any use of or reliance upon, any opinion, estimate or information contained herein or any omission therefrom. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.