The Top 10 Millennials & Gen Y Questions Answered
Jason Dorsey is the authority on Millennials and Gen Y. He’s been featured on 60 Minutes, 20/20, The Today Show, The View, The Early Show and many more. His unique research-driven approach to solving generational challenges has earned him over 1,000 standing ovations » What Jason’s clients say » What Jason’s clients say » What Jason’s clients say » What Jason’s clients say » What Jason’s clients say » What Jason’s clients say across the U.S. to Egypt, Spain, Norway and India. A bestselling Gen Y author at age 18, Jason won Entrepreneur of the Year at age 25. Read more about Jason Dorsey’s unique Millennials story here.
There is no one correct name for my generation, but there are names that are more commonly used than others, with the most popular being Millennials and Gen Y. In fact, Gen Y has gone by many different names as our generational characteristics become more pronounced. I often use the term Gen Y because I’ve found people naturally know the demographic I’m referring to is the one born immediately following Gen X. It’s also important to note that in different parts of the world where I work, people use different generational names entirely, or the concept of generations is not as well known as looking at life stage or other commonalities based on age. Based on our research and on-site work, Millennials is the more common term in the U.S. and Gen Y is the more common term globally.
2.) When was Gen Y born?
After extensive research, The Center for Generational Kinetics defines Generation Y–aka Millennials–as those born between 1977 and 1995. This is based on the factors that shape a generation and sequential generational defining moments. These birth years are also most applicable to the U.S. and North America. However, there is no catchall answer with birth years because generations are clues, not a box. A person born five years before or after the stated beginning or ending of a generation can exhibit all or most of the characteristics of that generation. These people are often referred to as “cuspers.” Also, if your parents are much older than typical parents of people your age, or you lived in a different country growing up than where you reside now, you may not share the characteristics of people your age who were born and raised where you live today. In my presentations, I explain why this happens, what shapes a generation, and how generational interactions affect every aspect of our lives—from the workplace and marketplace to our family dynamics.
3.) How Large is Gen Y?
Using the birth year range of 1977 to 1995, Gen Y consists of approximately 79.8 million people in the U.S. We are the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace and marketplace. Globally, we are the emerging adult population that is gradually exerting more influence due to our sheer numbers, expected longevity and hyper-connectivity.
4.) What are Gen Y’s most defining characteristics?
Below are a few key characteristics of Gen Y and Millennials that are in contrast with other generations in the workplace and society. You can read a complete list and generation breakdown in my book Y-Size Your Business.
Gen Y often has a feeling of entitlement. However, that is not true for everyone in my generation. In fact, we are witnessing a dislocation between the Gen Yers and Millennials who have their stuff together and those who are struggling to gain real-world traction.
Gen Y is NOT tech-savvy. We are tech-dependent. We often don’t know how technology actually works, only that we can’t live without it.
Gen Y loves instant gratification. We are notorious for not being able to wait in line—especially when getting coffee!
Gen Y is known for having big expectations but not always knowing or valuing the steps involved to reach those expectations.
In my presentations, I explain the critical characteristics that most impact our workplace mindset and marketplace habits, along with answering the two big questions: How in the world did Gen Y get this way? And what does this mean for our future and your business goals?
5.) If you were to tell me one thing about Gen Y that most people don’t know, what would it be?
Gen Y is the only generation in the workforce that has never expected to work for one company their entire lives. You might be surprised to discover the actual length of employment Gen Y equates with being a loyal employee. Even more shocking: The number of days it takes for Gen Y to decide if they can stay with an employer long-term. Hint: Watch my YouTube videos for the surprising answer.
No way! Generations are not a box. Instead they present powerful clues on where to start to faster connect with and influence people of different ages. There are so many factors that go into shaping an individual’s experience, which is why everyone is unique. However, on the whole, those within a generation often exhibit surprisingly similar characteristics. These similarities allow leaders the opportunity to adapt to achieve greater results in less time, at less expense and with less risk. This creates a win/win for every generation.
7.) Can Gen Y actually become loyal, hard-working, reliable employees?
Absolutely! Companies and organizations struggle when they solely rely on employment strategies that worked well in the past but are not a fit for Gen Y. While I’ve never visited a company that does everything right when it comes to employing Gen Y and Millennials, I have observed companies throughout the world that have solved different pieces of the Gen Y employment puzzle. The workforce research we’ve led and that I’ve seen proves that Gen Y can become valuable, loyal, high-performing employees. What’s most interesting is that these high-value outcomes are not tied to compensation. One key thing to know: In the workplace, you can expect Gen Y to move toward older generations. This is natural and to be expected. In the marketplace, this simply isn’t going to happen. In my presentations, I explain why and what this means for marketers and salespeople.
8.) Aren’t we catering to Gen Y by helping them with lessons we learned the hard way?
I am 100 percent against catering to or coddling Gen Y. Giving in to our whims only reinforces the worst characteristics we bring to the workplace and creates a disconnect with the other generations already there. The bottom line is that every new generation that enters the workforce frustrates the ones already there, and each generation assumes the one after them has it easier than they did. My approach is to find specific ways to bridge the generations so Gen Y and our three generations of co-workers perform at our highest levels. It’s in every leader’s best interest to make the most of each generation. Gen Y is simply the new kid on the block.
9.) What birth years do you use when defining the other three generations?
Generation X: Born approximately 1965 – 1977
Baby Boomers: Born approximately 1946 – 1964
Traditionalists: Born approximately pre-1946
10.) What will the generation after Gen Y and Millennials be called?
iGen. You can check out my thoughts about their emergence on our iGen page. They are going to rock the workplace and the marketplace—and all while using their phones for everything but talking.
For more generational information, visit our Gen Info page. There, you can watch free webinars, TV interviews and read our latest how-to action papers.
Email or call my team at The Center for Generational Kinetics if you have a Millennials or Gen Y question.
Our passion is solving tough generational challenges.
Your Gen Y Guy,
+1 512- 259-6877
Jason with attendees after keynoting Taco Bell’s National Franchisee Conference. His speech to 1,000 franchisees received a standing ovation!
Jason keynoting the Million Dollar Roundtable. He received a standing ovation from 6,000 sales leaders from around the world.
When not on an airplane, Jason is the Chief Strategy Officer at The Center for Generational Kinetics where he reviews data from companies around the world. These insights help him to identify emerging trends early so you can too.