This post originally appeared on the Higher Logic blog, where I’m posting an ongoing series related to Millennials and online community. And don’t forget that Higher Logic clients can have access to our Essentials of Online Community Management program at a special discount. Contact me for details!
Generations expert (and my co-author and partner) Jamie Notter recently posted this extensive article detailing some numbers research he has been doing around exactly how many Millennials there are. It’s important stuff, so I’m going to interrupt my regular column to point you to it. Here’s an excerpt:
When you look at the most recent population projections from the Census Bureau, it gets even more interesting. This is what they have for the population in 2014:
- Baby Boomers: 65 million
- Generation X: 88 million
- Millennials: 99 million
What?! How did that happen? Well, in short: immigration and death. Every generation in this country grows over time through immigration. Some of those immigrants come in at a young age and end up coming of age with their generational cohort, and some come in later, and may not reflect the generational values. But either way, every generation grows – or at least up until the point where the number of deaths in the generation starts to outnumber the inbound immigrants, and that’s obviously starting to happen with the Boomers (sorry Boomers, but it was kind of inevitable).
So yes, Millennials are currently 52 percent larger than the Boomers, and even Gen X is 35 percent larger than the Boomers are now. So what does all this mean?
The one thing that is consistent among all the stories out there is the Millennials are the largest generation in the history of the United States.
When you base your numbers in Strauss and Howe’s theory, it just makes them even larger. They are 100 million strong, and as Maddie and I argue, that their power comes not only from their size, but from the way they are aligned with other huge changes happening in society, notably the social media revolution and the speedily declining domination of traditional, command-and-control management.
If you lead or manage an organization right now, you’re at a huge choice point – whether you realize it or not. The Millennials are about to become the largest segment of the U.S. workforce, and half of them are still in school. They will dominate the landscape for decades.
So your choice is simple: either create an organization that makes sense in this new “Millennial era,” or start to quickly fall behind those who do. It’s not because the Millennials are the smartest or best generation (there is no “best” generation). They are just huge, and they are at the right place at the right time. If you’re not creating a culture that is aligned with these changes, then you should be preparing for decline.
It’s not about the flip flops and entitlement, people. It’s about the future of work.
Please read the whole post, as it gets into some details about these numbers. Because what’s important here is not just that we “think” Millennials will change things in large numbers, and accept the “buzz” around generations, but that we do our homework and figure out exactly how this will affect our member population and therefore the communities that attract them.