For fintech, millennial consumers are–let’s go with challenging–according to the huge quantities of rigorous data collected on them. That might be for three main reasons: They don’t trust banks or credit lenders (at all), it’s hard to predict what they’ll like in a financial service provider — and what they’ll actually use before one spends a couple million building the product — and finally, as a generation, they have far less qualms about switching financial services than any previous demographic.
While these qualities may make them a terrifying consumer base, it might actually also make them more productive and more innovative workers—as long as employers cultivate the right environment, which according to the data seems to mean a startup, or at least a startup-like atmosphere.
“Our research indicates that millennials want leaders who take them seriously, not leaders who are humoring them,” says Rainmaker Thinking founder Bruce Tulgan, author of Not Everyone Gets a Trophy—Managing the Millennials. Tulgan has been studying the generational shift in the workplace for about twenty-three years.
The definition of the millennial generation fluctuates, but according to Forrester Research the term refers to anyone who was born between the years 1980 and 2000, which is a massive amount of people — 34% of the country’s current workforce, according to data collected by Forrester.
Being digital natives who grew up steeped in technology, according to FICO, millennials learn differently than their predecessors. They seek out environments with strong mentoring programs and steady feedback — but chafe at having too many restrictions, according to a report published earlier in the year by Forrester Analyst, Claire Schooley; they want to learn by doing instead of being told what to do, and they want to be part of a collaborative, innovative team—in other words, the ideal of startup life.
Shifting learning or training techniques to fit the millennial way of learning might go a long way towards increasing millennial productivity, which in most cases means offering a digital (or specifically a mobile) solution…which is what a significant chunk of the fintech industry was created to do.
A second Forrester report also suggests companies use its millennial workers for in-office testing of mobile offerings, online products, or shiny new tech—or, to put it another way, by developing that close-knit beta group feel startups have been cultivating for in-office life since Facebook became a thing.
“Think of millennial workforce enablement as an opportunity to innovate,” the report states. “Wed innovation to problem-solving: millennial work states necessitate unique technology instrumentation anyway, so accommodate those differences with emerging tech.”
Providing millennial workers with the digital tools necessary for the mobility they expect is also something that can lead to a greater amount of innovation and “flow,” defined by Forrester as an atmosphere of heightened productivity, in the workplace.
One thing a state-of-the-art, innovative, tech-savvy work environment can’t provide for its millennial workers: soft skills, the lack of which contributed to the very public folding of several fintech startups such as the now-infamous WrkRiot case–aside from the allegations of fraud, the reported inability of the founders to secure funding, or know how to secure funding, definitely widened the company’s precarious financial position.
“According to older or more experienced people, these young people have up to date tools and techniques, but not great interpersonal skills,” says Tulgan. “This [shift] is about the coming of age of people who are coming in to work at a time when employment relationships have become short-term and transactional.”
State-of-the-art technology is not enough to make up for a lack of experience, whether that experience is in sales or business, but luckily some of the 92 million millennials trickling into the workforce are slowly, but surely gaining it.
Hey, someone has to be in charge now that the boomers are retiring.
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