Tomorrow I will be giving a presentation at the IHRIM 2012 Conference in Chicago. While enough time is being spent during the conference talking about the millennial generation, yes we know they are coming, I want to share with you in this post some stats and then what you might want to do TODAY to prepare any deployment of technology going forward for your of TODAY!
Did you know that prior to 2001, you could only send a text message to people in your cellular network. Texting wasn’t really that big of a deal, a novelty really. In fact, only about 500,000 text messages were sent each day in the US in 2001.
Once the wireless providers began to connect their networks for texting the numbers exploded. Today, about 4 billion text messages are sent/received every day in the US, with 18-24 year-olds accounting for the bulk of the activity.
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project
The youngest adults (those between the ages of 18 and 24) are even more proficient in their texting habits. Both cell ownership and text messaging are nearly universal among 18-24 year olds—95% own a cell phone and 97% of these cell owners use text messaging—and the number of daily text messages this group creates or encounters on a daily basis is far and away the largest of any group:
- 18-24 year olds send or receive an average of 109.5 text messages per day—that works out to more than 3,200 messages per month. The median 18-24 year old texter sends or receives 50 texts per day (or around 1,500 messages per month).
- One quarter of 18-24 year old text messaging users (23%) report sending or receiving more than 100 texts per day.
- Just over one in ten (12%) say that they send or receive more than 200 messages on an average day—that equals 6,000 or more messages per month.
To put these numbers in comparison, the average of 109.5 texts per day among 18-24 year olds is more than double the comparable figure for 25-34 year olds, and twenty-three times the figure for text messaging users who are 65 or older.
Let me throw some additional numbers at you.
- Two-thirds of 4- to 7-year-olds have used an iPhone or iPod
- 6% of 2- to 5-year-olds have their own smartphone
- 50% of 11 year olds have own cell phone
- 10% of households with children aged 6-12 have iPads (compared with only 3% of other households); 35% of these households with young children plan to buy some brand of tablet computer in the next year
- 72% of the 100 top-selling education apps in Apple’s iTunes App store this year were aimed at preschoolers and those in elementary school
- One of the first products aimed at putting an iPhone into a baby’s hands (Fisher-Price’s oversize case, providing coverage against drools and tantrums, while doubling as a rattle), rapidly sold out on Amazon; the three apps designed for the case have been downloaded more than 700,000 times
- Kids 11 to 14 spend, on average, 73 minutes a day texting
- Over 25% of 2-5 year olds and over 40% of 6-8 year olds use the Internet
- 88% of 6-8 year olds use the Internet to play games; 37%, to get help with homework; 25% to get the “inside scoop” on what interests them; and 22% to read and write email
- 90% of tweens (10-12) play online games
- Younger children spend over 10 hours a week playing video games
- The amount of time all kids spend online daily has tripled in the past 10 years
- Kids are media multitasking, packing an average of 8.5 hours’ worth of media into 6.5 hours a day.
- 26% of young people are using one medium while they are doing something else media-related at the same time
So what does it all mean for employers of these future workers? Putting aside the debate over whether the behaviors of this hyper-connected generation are beneficial or dangerous, these are the behaviors shaping their perceptions and attitudes.
Tammy Erickson, an author and blogger for Harvard Business Review writes in post, How Mobile Technologies Are Shaping a New Generation:
Four themes emerge [from youth swimming in this digital soup]:
A pervasive sense of connection: Connectivity is the basic assumption and natural fabric of everyday life for this generation. Technology connections are how people meet, express ideas, define identities, and understand each other. Older generations have, for the most part, used technology to improve productivity — to do things we’ve always done, faster, easier, more cheaply. For this generation, being wired is a way of life.
Options (not obligations): Because technology is so intimately intertwined with this generation’s sense of self, they control it in a way that older individuals often don’t. While Boomers or X’ers may feel obligated to respond to the technology, this generation use the technology with choice – on their own schedule, at their own pace.
Anonymity and the ability to hide: By connecting through technology, this generation reduces the need to connect face-to-face. Many have friends they’ve never met with whom they interact regularly. This creates a strange sense of anonymity — they can be everywhere if they choose to post or, depending on their preference, nowhere. Physical appearances can be replaced with avatars. The alarming epidemic of childhood obesity may be related to this generation’s ability to hide.
Confidence and control . . . to be an initiator, designer, problem-solver: This is a generation that is used to asking big questions — and is confident of finding answers. Will the water run out? How many children travel to school in a sustainable way? Are cities a good idea? Let’s check the Internet. They have had the experience of digging deeply into a burning question because they have access to a mountain of information.
It is time we start looking at these shifts in attitudes and behaviors as employment advantages, rather than liabilities. Many seasoned business professionals would bristle at the idea of turning over the organization’s biggest challenges to a group of teenagers to solve. Or asking a group of fresh-faced college grads to come up with a way to better connect with customers. These kids have to learn the ropes first, get the lay of the land – they can’t just start influencing strategic direction! They don’t know anything! They haven’t done anything!
When deploying HR and Talent Management technology, KNOWING your audience and what they see value in is essential. I gave a keynote last night in Cincinnati where we debated “what gets people to use this stuff?” and the overwhelming them was value. In order to determine value, we must understand what is important to our audience and then how to market to them in a way that “STANDS OUT”. In a world where we receive thousands of messages a day, how will yours “STAND OUT” and gain attention; if people see VALUE!
I’m reminded of the 10,000-hour rule, so masterfully written about by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers: The Story of Success. Essentially, Gladwell says that it takes about 10 years to get really good at something. Today’s 15-year-old that is constantly face-down in his smart phone, connecting, conversing, solving, looking, reading, accessing and consuming massive amounts of information just to post an off-color joke on Facebook, will be an expert in problem solving, research and team building right about the time you need him.
If you’re unfamiliar with the 10,000-hour rule, here is Gladwell in his own words:
Another Infusion of knowledge…