Millennials

Modernizing Your Mentality: Advocacy and Superheroes

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December 4 @ 3:15 pm CST

A common motif in pop culture today is that of the superhero. Growing up, comic books were coveted by my peers, and today, many of those stories have been adapted into books, TV shows, and films. In recent years, the Marvel Universe and DC Comics have produced countless films whose storylines center around heroes. These characters have abilities beyond those of ordinary people and use those powers to enact positive change. They are the ultimate advocates for a cause. When it comes to your association, who are the heroes at the center of your story? It may come as a surprise, your NextGen members can be your greatest superpower. They have the potential to be your most powerful advocates by garnering support for the causes most important to your organization.   Much of my work centers around young people. In my work with Gen X and Gen Zers via think tanks, surveys, focus groups, and interviews, a “hero mentality” presents itself consistently. Young people today believe that they have a personal responsibility to make meaningful change and an impact on the world. This hasn’t always been the case – so what’s changed? Thanks to 24/7 news coverage and the advent of social media, young people are highly aware of the world’s injustices. If you work with (or are currently raising) adolescents, you likely know that the childhood experience has been forever changed by technology and the constant access to information it provides. The last two decades have been some of the most disruptive in our nation’s history. Those who grew up in this era experienced a host of radical changes, including an economic recession, the war on terror, climate change, a pandemic, and human rights issues – to name a few. As a result, they’ve become global thinkers and are well educated about the issues we are facing. They feel compelled and inspired to influence positive change. In recent years, we’ve seen more young people than ever…

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Acing Your Association’s Succession Plan

December 4 @ 3:15 pm CST

For as long as I can remember, tennis has been one of my favorite sports. I played from an early age and eventually taught lessons during my summers off in high school. For some, the long hot days, sore muscles, and constant running back and forth may have been exhausting. For me, it was an invigorating activity that required strategy, skill, and patience. Today, I still get just as energized when a tennis match is on TV, and on weekends, I still love to pick up my racquet and head to the courts. Over the course of my career, I’ve found that a comparison can be drawn between tennis theory and membership theory. When I first started researching membership engagement trends in the early 2000s, I observed that older generations (mainly Baby Boomers) valued membership strongly, having been raised to believe that belonging to an association was a key stepping stone in the journey to adulthood. Many Boomers I studied shared a similar experience: start your career, join an industry organization, and earn your seat at the table by continuously investing in your membership. It seems like a recipe for success, right? …Maybe not. At the same time, our research suggested that younger generations were less inclined to join membership organizations. Interest in membership was waning, but why? The turn of the 21st century ushered in major social, economic, and political shifts in our society. Coupled with significant technological advancements, a rapidly changing world swayed young people’s interests, including what they wanted out our their membership experience. The broader data we gathered presented a shocking trend: across the board, 20% of members (younger members) were pushing their associations to rethink and modernize their membership models. They were posing the following questions to their associations: When was the last time you reviewed your membership demographics?How current is your value proposition?What am I going to get out of my membership if I join your association? These questions prompted…

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NextGen: Ready Or Not, Here They Come!

December 4 @ 3:15 pm CST

Are you a millennial? In my work as a generational researcher, I’ve found there are two ways people typically react when faced with this question. If they are a millennial, they tend to reluctantly admit it as if they are embarrassed. If they aren’t, they emphatically exclaim, “No, thank goodness!” Both negative responses fascinate me because they are indicative of society’s attitudes towards this demographic. So, what was your response? Whether you’re a millennial or not, your organization’s future depends upon younger generations, so it’s time to adapt! Millennials, or “Generation Y,” were born between 1981 and 1996. When they came of age, it was during an era of technological advancement and disruption. They are the largest generation in history (in addition to being the most researched), having been influenced by major economic and cultural events, including the 2008 financial crisis, the war on terror, and the dot com bubble – to name a few.  They grew up with unprecedented access to information – most of which was at their fingertips – and, as a result, are highly educated consumers and communicators. Their life experience is one that has been characterized by globalization, customization, and instant gratification. In short, Millennials are unique in many ways, and reaching them will require new and unique approaches that many associations have not yet mastered, let alone thought about. “Unique” is often synonymous with “misunderstood.” Millennials are often the most misunderstood and criticized generation in history because they have ushered in an era of broad-scale change and innovation. When you think about it, Generation Y is the personification of change.  Let’s face it – change is uncomfortable. It pushes us, stretches us, and as a society, we’ve never been good at welcoming new ideas from younger generations. As the saying goes, “Kids these days…” – you fill in the blank. It’s a sentiment we hear with each passing generation that usually ends with: “…they’re lazy!” “…they’re entitled!” “…they’re difficult to…

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It’s Time for Your Association to Leave the Past…in the Past!

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December 4 @ 3:15 pm CST

I was going through family photos the other day and came across several pictures of my grandmother. She embodied glamour and never failed to attend social events (even baseball games!) without her pearls. I can remember her always looking put together and polished – the epitome of class. As I perused through the albums, I found more snapshots of her and my ancestors, all of whom were dressed in their finest ensembles for social outings. Times have changed, and today, my two daughters joke that I don’t truly understand what it means to be “casual.” Perhaps I’m more influenced by the previous generations of women in my family than I realized. Still, there is something I love about vintage finds and the era of glamour that my grandmother and her mother were raised in. For me, the past evokes a sense of nostalgia and curiosity about what it would be like to live during another time period.  I have an immense appreciation for trends. As a generational researcher and futurist, I am always looking at trends and how they impact societies’ attitudes and behaviors. It’s probably why I am also fascinated by fashion. Clothing provides a lens into what is happening at any given time, and I’ve found that people’s attire typically reflects current events. For example, the high fashion of the Gilded Age had its roots in both the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution. Society emerged from wartimes with a desire for consumption and luxury. Following WWI, clothes were designed to be less restrictive, formal, and more practical as gender roles shifted. Current events and fashion always went hand in hand. That being said, I’m not here to talk to you about the latest fashion movements! Trends play an essential role in our society, and your organization is no exception. It is vital that your association pay attention to trends because you are either ahead of the curve or behind it.  In my work as…

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Convincing NextGen Members to Binge on Your Organization

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December 4 @ 3:15 pm CST

Take a moment to think about your favorite television show. What genre does it fall under? What is it about the show that keeps drawing you back for just one more episode? I’d like you to also consider how you watch the show. Perhaps you record it, or maybe you stream it through a virtual platform. Growing up, MTV was the thing to watch. Not only was it on 24/7, but it offered programming that aligned closely with my interests and was readily available for viewing, which kept me tuning in for more.  MTV came onto the scene in 1981, during a major social and cultural shift that would impact generations for decades to come. This channel was part of a much larger development: broadcast cable TV.  The launch of broadcast cable television in the early 1980s ushered in a new era of unprecedented customization and globalization. Suddenly, channels were tailored to a viewer’s interests, and network ratings dictated when and how often a show was aired. Live news coverage from across the world began to flood into the homes of anyone who owned a television set, exposing them to current events taking place on a global scale. It may sound unusual, but the dawn of cable television and your membership association share more in common than you may realize.  Research shows that brain development has evolved over the past several decades and it is no coincidence that television has played a role. Today’s younger generations are visual learners who have been conditioned to crave information that is easily accessible, on-demand, and instantaneous. I like to refer to it as an “edutainment” mentality. Your NextGen members want the same type of experience when it comes to their membership – one where opportunities and choices are readily available and at their fingertips. Over the course of my career, I’ve uncovered several misconceptions that pertain to membership organizations. One of the most shocking sentiments I’ve heard regularly is…

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To Make Gains, You Must Entertain!

December 4 @ 3:15 pm CST

When we are in search of entertainment, much of it is right at our fingertips. Streaming services, on-demand programming, social media, and a laundry list of apps have made it easier than ever to achieve instant gratification in real-time. For many of you (including myself!), this hasn’t always been the case. You may have grown up with black and white television, where programming was limited by today’s standards. I arrived on the scene during the dawn of technicolor TV (MTV, anyone?) and the advent of remote controls and the worldwide web.   We also find ourselves in an era of customization where everything is moving faster and with more efficiency – and we can tailor it all to our liking. Technology has adapted to the changing needs of society to prepare for the future, and your organization isn’t different. Now is the time to plan ahead because a backward focus isn’t an option, we can only move forward.   Long before the pandemic, membership organizations were struggling with planning for the future and finding ways to connect with young professionals. There has been a major shift in the member engagement cycle, and continuing to utilize old membership tactics has triggered membership decline and disengagement.   It’s crucial for leaders like you to better understand the different values, traits, and membership demographics so you can accurately target young professionals and student members.   Membership, much like television, used to be a spectator sport. Historically, people would join organizations…and then sit back and wait for the board to engage them and entertain them. This no longer works. Similar to the changing trends in technology, younger generations of members expect to participate differently as members. They seek interactive experiences and are looking for opportunities to be more involved.  We have to understand that modern skillsets and values differ from those of previous generations. Instead of having one generation dominate your leadership, it’s time to transition to a variety of perspectives and collaborate…

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A Prescription for Your Mission

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December 4 @ 3:15 pm CST

When you’re feeling unhealthy, oftentimes you will seek the advice of a physician or medical professional. You share your symptoms, receive a prognosis, and are given a prescription to remedy what is making you feel ill. This same process can be applied to your organization – and doesn’t require a trip to a doctor’s office!   How do you know if your organization is truly healthy?   To start your organizational health “checkup,” I recommend looking at your membership succession plan. If one doesn’t exist, now is the time to put one in place! An effective membership succession plan and a NextGen membership pipeline are integral to your organization’s survival.   I encourage you to think about where you would like to see your organization in five years (or even ten or twenty!). What services and experiences do you envision providing your members and how will you continue to engage younger generations?   We no longer live in an era where knowledge and wisdom are solely passed down from elders to young people.   Today, our society has more access to education, information, and technology. As a result, every generation now has a wealth of skill sets and experiences to share and absorb with one another. Never before has so much teaching and learning happened simultaneously, and it is important to identify whether that is taking place in your organization or not.  “Aging out” is a common condition that ultimately means younger generations of members are not being engaged and little to no membership succession planning has taken place. I have had firsthand experience with organizations that had to close their doors because they “aged out.” All too often, it is because they were unwilling to let go of traditions or accept and implement new ideas.   If you want a future for your organization, you must engage those who will carry you into the future. Regularly conducting temperature checks to gauge the average age of your members, board members, and overall community within your organization can help you identify how diverse your organization really is. A lack of diversity typically results in…

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scary employee retention stats - female employee holding head down at desk

Scary Employee Retention Stats 2021

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December 4 @ 3:15 pm CST

The costumes have been put away. The haunted houses have closed. Attention has shifted from watching horror movies to watching for Black Friday deals. Halloween has ended, but there’s still much to fear. Since 2013, our firm has celebrated Halloween with its Scary Stats campaign, reporting on the scariest workforce stats of the year. This year was no exception — but this year we’re not in a rush to turn our attention elsewhere. Why? Because the frightening fact is, in the eight years since we started publishing Scary Stats, there’s been no improvement. And this year, scary stats took on a whole new meaning when a record-breaking 4.3 million people quit their jobs within a 30-day time span, and 10.4 million job openings remained unfilled. Even before we started publishing Scary Stats, we knew this moment was coming. In the year 2000, Gallup reported employee disengagement hit an all-time high. Companies started throwing money at research and perks and created new office spaces in an attempt to improve employee engagement, yet the stat remained unchanged. For 21 years, we raised a restless, unhappy workforce. Now, our creation is a full-fledged adult. And like a negligent parent, we’re reflecting on the last two decades with awe and regret, wondering what we created and kicking ourselves for not paying closer attention. These two stats help to tell the story behind the making of this frightful mess commonly referred to as the Great Resignation: The difference between executive and median employee pay continues to increase. CEOs now make 299 times more than the average worker. In 1965, executive pay was 24 times worker pay. In 2017, it was 275 times. Flexibility emerged as a workplace value when Millennials started entering the workforce in 2000. Consistently, 92% of this generation has said they expect employers to provide flexible work environments. In 2021, Deloitte reported 82% of companies now see flexible work arrangements as critical to employee retention, but only 47%…

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How Cancel Culture Will Change Your Organization

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December 4 @ 3:15 pm CST

Given the opportunity to time travel, would you choose to visit the past or the future? I was participating in a virtual happy hour when this question popped up. Some experienced professionals jumped in, sharing moments in history they wanted to visit. The conversation was bubbly; people were happily caught up in their imaginations of what it would be like to experience a bygone era. Then a student from Georgetown University spoke up, and just like that, the mood shifted. “I want to visit the future”, she said. “I want to visit the future to see how much damage has been done by the actions of our society today.” Gen Z (1996-2009) are the teens and early 20-somethings who have become largely renowned for holding up the mirror to society, forcing us all to take a closer look. Under  their watch, the concept of cancel culture has been trending for most of the past year, which has become a polarizing topic of debate. Regardless of age or experience, feeling ignored drives  people to disengage, quit, protest, and cancel. The process of ‘canceling’ usually goes like this: A public figure or organization does or says something offensive. A public backlash, often fueled by political views and social media, ensues. Then there’s call to take away their cultural cachet, whether through boycotts or disciplinary action. Cancel culture has been referred to as a mob mentality, encouraging lawlessness, censorship, and the erasing of history. It’s also been referred to as a long overdue way of holding people accountable for propagating racist and sexist ideas, toxic behaviors, and making unethical, immoral decisions without any regard for others. Although it started as more of a political debate, cancel culture has now moved into the arena of generational debate. In 2019, the OK boomer meme and videos were an attempt by Gen Z to ‘cancel’ the generations that came before them. OK boomer was meant to be cutting and dismissive; a snarky…

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Why They Quit: How To Retain Young Talent

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December 4 @ 3:15 pm CST

As vaccines are being distributed, there is hope the worst of the pandemic is nearing an end. But if research is any indication, another kind of crisis may just be heating up. As SHRM defines it, a “turnover tsunami” is brewing, with more than half of employees surveyed planning to look for a new job this year. Employers were experiencing high rates of turnover prior to the pandemic. In fact, voluntary turnover had been steadily rising since 2010, and was cited as a chief global concern by both the UN and World Economic Forum. When the pandemic hit, quit rates reached their lowest level in nine years – and now they’re bouncing back. Just this week, I’ve heard from three executives lamenting the loss of young talent. The fact remains that professionals under the age of 39 account for more than half of all voluntary separations. Why? Increased employee turnover is the outcome of a shift in workforce needs and values, and it’s a shift that is here to stay. This is a topic I’ve researched a great detail and the answer is quite complex. In brief, here are two reasons why young professionals are three times more likely than other generations to quit: Inclusion We’re observing an ever-widening gap between twentieth century managed organizations and twenty-first century raised workers. Young professionals don’t understand the management processes and hierarchies common throughout the past century. These generations have only known a world powered by innovation, collaboration, globalization, instant gratification, knowledge, acceptance, and access. They struggle to comprehend why decisions can’t be made on the fly, why they can’t have a seat at the decision-making table, and why it’s always been done ‘that way.’ Stability Millennials came of age during the Great Recession-the worst economic decline our country had experienced in 70 years. Gen Z has come of age during the most disruptive         decade in history. These experiences have shaped the career trajectories of young professionals in more…

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