Tag Archives: generation gap

Could ‘demanding’ millennials be a source of great IC ideas?

A persistent myth about millennials (and one that’s highly unjustified in this writer’s opinion) is that they’re a demanding and entitled bunch who want everything their own way.

While many organisations claim to value input and ideas from their workforce, could unconscious bias caused by such stereotypes disuade leaders from accepting input from younger team members?

In our previous article on the #howtoconfuseamillennial Twitter row, we looked at the importance of considering the different communication preferences associated with each age group.

Steven Murgatroyd, Engage Consultant at WM Reply and Chair of CIPR Inside, says employers must combine this approach with a willingness to heed requests and recommendations from younger colleagues, rather than dismissing them as demanding or difficult.

Steven Murgatroyd
Steven Murgatroyd

“Young people have grown up with Facebook and Twitter. They have grown up always being able to comment on things and express an opinion. They’re definitely willing to challenge and question things,” he explained.

“The most important thing from an internal communications point of view is to spend time with employees and find out what they actually want.

“As long as ideas are good and well thought out, I wouldn’t see a problem. But there will be some organisations that struggle with that idea of somebody who might be in their first job saying ‘I think there’s a better way to do this.’

“Some leaders are adapting well. I think others talk a good game. They say they want everyone to have an opinion. But the proof is in those moments when they’re in a meeting and someone says ‘I don’t agree with that’ and they don’t necesarilly take it well.”

Steven also expressed dislike for the ‘millennial’ tag, urging employers not to fall into the trap of basing IC decisions on stereotypes associated with particular labels.

He said: “Labels only lead to assumptions. An assumption that X per cent of your work force is exactly the same can’t be true.”

So what do those at the heart of this debate really think?

We asked some members of the younger generation to share their thoughts on internal communication.


Simone Corgan
Simone Corgan

Name: Simone Corgan
Job title: Brand Development Manager
Age: 27

What kind of things do you want to be kept updated on at work?
I want to know what the company’s plans are – not the whole detailed plan, but an overview of what the company is looking to achieve, how it plans on doing it and how I can play my part.

What are your preferred channels for receiving internal comms, and why?
It depends on the message. I appreciate why a lot of internal communication is email-based. It’s quick, easy and convenient. The downside is that is can seem disingenuous. When it’s a ‘well done’ or for recognition, I would prefer a face-to-face conversation.

Would information shared in other ways be less interesting or less useful to you?
They may be deemed as old fashioned but I wouldn’t mind a print publication – they’re always handy to read on a coffee break.


Ben Nertney
Ben Nertney

Name: Ben Nertney
Job title: Media Buyer
Age: 22

What kind of things do you want to be kept updated on at work?
Financial updates help me to understand what the opportunities are, or big wins to go after. Also, any extra activities, such as any perks that are currently being run. Things like this are some of the only internal comms I actively read.

What are your preferred channels for receiving internal comms, and why?
My least favourite channel is email. I get about 150 per day and internal comms always gets deprioritised over my work. We have a lot of TVs in our offices which are on a loop of internal comms. This is more effective to me than other forms of communication because it is stand alone and draws my attention.

Would information shared in other ways be less interesting or less useful to you?
Yes. If I’m completely honest I ignore a lot of comms through email and intranet. Comms on subjects with no relevance to my role but delivered in the right way get more of my attention than subjects that do have a direct relevance to me, delivered via the wrong channels.

** Steven Murgatroyd is hosting the CIPR Inside internal communication conference today Tuesday, 4 October, called ‘Closing the Gap’, which will feature workshops and case studies on how to direct strategy in a positive way to close the gaps in an organisation. Visit www.ciprinside.co.uk/event/closingthegap for more information.

Why ‘millennial’ Twitter spat needs to be taken seriously

There have always been differences between the young and not-so-young, but recently it feels like the generation gap is becoming more of a rift.

The internet has created new platforms for baby boomers, generation X and millennials to criticise each other. But the anonimity afforded by online discussion means people are less likely to hold back in their critiques.

A good example is the recently-trending Twitter hashtag #howtoconfuseamillennial.

In the tried and tested tradition of social media spats, what began as a lighthearted – albeit condescending – joke by one demographic at the expense of another, soon descended into anger and bitterness on both sides.

The butt of this particular joke was the (presumed) ignorance among millennials of anything pre-dating the digital revolution.

Tweeted photos of cassette tapes, rotary phones and other analogue icons were met with good humour by some, but left others feeling angry and patronised.

As one person Tweeted: “#howtoconfuseamillennial Post this hashtag with pics of VHS, record players, antenna, floppy disks, and other old tech I DO know how to use.”

Another commented: “#HowToConfuseAMillennial – Act like we’re totally ignorant of things we actually grew up with. I’m 29. I know/use maps, fax machines, etc.”

Twitter storms are nothing new, but this one was unusual in that it raised some serious points around how older people perceive the younger generation. Employers and comms professionals should consider this when forming or reviewing their IC strategy.

For example:

• To what extent should people’s technological preferences be factored into your strategy?
• Which is the greater risk – Alienating an audience segment by using comms channels they don’t like, or patronising them by assuming they aren’t familiar/willing to engage with those channels?

This is an issue for everyone.

Virtually every major industry now employs a large proportion of people under 30.

Percentage of Under-30s in UK workforce by industry.
Percentage of Under-30s in UK workforce by industry.

Source: CIPD, June 2015. Avoiding the demographic crunch: Labour supply and the ageing workforce.

We asked Robert Minton-Taylor, Senior Lecturer at the School of Strategy, Marketing and Communication, Leeds Business School, for his thoughts on the subject.

What are the main differences between younger people and older people in the way they prefer to receive information?

Robert Minton-Taylor, senior lecturer at Leeds Business School.
Robert Minton-Taylor, senior lecturer at Leeds Business School.

“Email among young people is an everyday part of life. Checking email is the first thing they do in the morning, before even getting out of bed.

“They also use SMS. That’s their primary communication channel for short sharp messages.

“Generations of people born before the advent of the mobile phone or smartphone tend to want to be able to read information in hard copy.”

What could be the consequence for employers of using a one-size-fits-all, blanket approach for IC?

“It just puts people off. We need to think – what do we want to say and how do we say it simply, clearly, unambiguously and honestly?

“How do we want that information received at the other end, and what do we want that audience to do with that information?”

What advice would you give organisations with diverse workforces, to help them communicate effectively with people of all ages?

“Take time to get to know your audiences well.

“It’s a question of understanding how audiences want to receive their information.

“So hosting focus groups with audiences at different ages and different job levels would help to determine how you put the information across and in what form.”

* We’ll be exploring this topic further in an upcoming article, where we share the thoughts of the younger generation and examine whether the very term ‘millennial’ could have a negative impact in the workplace.

** Picture courtesy of smonkey/Shutterstock.com.