Loosely defined as individuals born between the 1980s and early 2000s, the oldest millennials are now in their early to mid 30s. In the largest demographic power shift to hit organizations in decades, over the next 10 years more millennials will be entering the workforce and moving into the executive suite.
Associations are also discovering this. In fact, concerned about dwindling membership in the millennial demographic, American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) released a ground-breaking report entitled Associations, Generation Y, and Millennials: What You Need to Know About Your Next Generation Members. The report had take-aways about the expectations of millennials in the arenas of:
- Professional Development: Coursera, Udacity, and EdX are making inroads in virtual learning.
"The day is not far off when members begin to question why they can take a physics course from MIT for free, but have to pay us $120 for a 90 minute workshop and a lunch."
- Transparency and Governance: Access to information is desired more quickly than conferences and reports can provide.
- Collaborative Consumption: Interest in experiences is more important than swag.
- Membership Engagement: Millennials expect more peer-to-peer interaction and experiences that are more personalized and fun.
It is important for organizations to proactively develop strategies to engage millennials in meetings:
- Leverage technology for crowdsourcing to design content before the meeting.
- When presenting information, think sound bites. Ensure that attendees are involved in passive listening for no more than 10 - 15 minutes. Then, break presentations up with an activity that involves active engagement.
- Incorporate more peer-to-peer interaction into meetings. Consider simulations, group discussions and exercises, and case studies based on real situations and scenarios.
- Look for opportunities to incorporate gamification into meetings, conferences and trade shows.
- Seek more sponsorships to make access to learning and development opportunities more affordable.
- Re-think food and beverage offerings for lunch and snacks. Boston Consulting Group did a detailed study and reported on the results in Millennial Passions, Food, Fashion and Friends. Some of the preferences uncovered included:
- Box lunches would be a perfect fit for millennials who showed a preference for fast casual take-out, Asian, organic, and exotic.
- The ability to place orders through technology like smartphones and tablets.
One thing is certain, business as usual and meetings as usual won't cut it with this crowd. Involve some millennials who are members of your organization in the planning and design of meetings and events to ensure that your design hits the mark.
For more tips to engage millennials, also read 10 Active Learning Methods to Retain Short Attention Spans, Planners: Use Gamification to Drive Attendee Engagement, Giant Board Games Boost Board Game Appeal for Millennials, Music for Corporate Events: Appealing to Diverse Tastes, Music for Meetings and Conferences? Go for Baroque, and Millennials: More Than Just a Buzz Word—The Future of Meeting.
Photo Credit: Ted Eytan