As a Gen Y, sometimes I feel I get caught in the middle of the spectrum between Gen X and Gen Y. I know how to dress for an interview; even better I know not to have my mom show up with me to the interview. I know to be 5-10 minutes early to work, and I know how to write a professional e-mail—in fact I actually check my e-mail!

To top it off, this particular moment gave me a good laugh:
I owed a good friend some money for a Groupon we bought together and pulled out my checkbook from my purse to pay her back. Another girl in the group piped up with, “You carry your checkbook with you?!” I laughed out loud because of the Gen Y stigmas I’ve been reading that say we don’t carry our checkbooks, let alone know how to write a check!

Regardless of these traits, I can identify with millennials in the workforce in other ways during this rise of the Social Era.


Social Era…What’s That?

This social era is described as a period where companies stop competing to be the big man on top and instead work with building community and maintaining relationships through community networking. The social era brings to us a new way to do and define business. The social era is not just about incorporating social media into a company’s marketing efforts, but about the action of being social through business.

The context for business in the 21st century is changing, and that calls for Innovation.  I’ve been reading a lot about innovation and there are many great definitions out there. I particularly thought Jamie Notter’s simple definition hit home:

“Innovation is change that unlocks new value.”

He points out that innovation is more than just change and that “unlocking new value” is the key to innovation.


Unlock the True Value in Your Association with Gen Y

1.)    Gen Y has the mindset of an Entrepreneur

I’d like to put together my own definition of entrepreneur with Jamie Notter’s definition of innovation in mind:

Entrepreneur: One who is committed to taking risks in order to unlock new value in an enterprise 

Gen Y is a generation that is driven to do something significant, and that is why we are entrepreneurial minded. We were told, “If you can dream it, you can do it,” and we believe that. We are motivated to take risks and be ambitious about the things that make us passionate.

Entrepreneurs and innovation go hand in hand. Gen Y with our entrepreneurial attitudes can be the glue that sticks these 2 things together.

2.)    Millennials are the cure for risk aversion.

“That’s the way we’ve been doing it for years,” is a phrase that many association executives are used to hearing. With the rise of the Social Era, associations need to approach making changes in membership and recruitment efforts by taking risks. Gen Y, and our change-the-world-attitudes are risk-takers by nature, and we’re ready to help associations make bold moves to liven up their marketing efforts.

Gen Y is driven to create positive changes in their community, and that means we are willing to start in the workplace.

3.)    Gen Y is addicted to having fun.

The social era, is an era in which millennials have grown up texting, Facebooking, Tweeting, and watching YouTube. We have grown up constantly engaging in technology and using our social skills. We know how to have a good time, and are more interested in investing time and money into an exciting experience. Association executives and board members would be wise to ask Gen Y for ideas about engagement, because we have spent our lives exploring fun as an engagement strategy.

The social era is a manifesto for change. While associations have begun to take this more seriously, now is the time to use Gen Y to truly leverage innovation. Begin to unlock the value of your association and take a chance on Gen Y.

What are some other ways that you’ve found having millennials in the workforce beneficial for innovation?