Media and marketing professional Sarah Sladek has been researching demographics since 2002, so she has plenty of advice for engaging the perplexing workforce power that is Generation Y (people born between 1982 and 1995). Her book Knowing Y: Engage the Next Generation Now examines the motivations and values of Millennials and provides insight on how to involve them with associations.
MNM+E: What prompted you to write this book?
SS: Generation Y communicates differently, has different expectations, and therefore has proven more difficult for organizations to engage—especially for any length of time. I wanted to write a book that explained why these differences exist and how to successfully engage the largest generation in U.S. history.
MNM+E: Why is understanding Generation Y important?
SS: By 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts Generation Y will become the majority of the workforce, which means they will soon become the majority of the consumer spend and the majority of the vote.
MNM+E: What do members of Generation Y want from an event or meeting?
SS: A really great experience. This generation has come of age with TED, SXSW, and Red Bull competitions and they cherish their time more than anything else. Unique content presented in quick, multi-media formats with a heavy emphasis on interactivity through technology, service projects, behind-the-scenes tours, or contests will really resonate with a Gen Y audience. Customer service, a sense of belonging, access to technology, and convenience are also meeting must-haves. And meeting and event planners will have to get really creative because Generation Y hates repeats.
MNM+E: What are some practical suggestions for event planners?
SS: All too often, people try to guess what young people these days want and all too often they fail at the deliverable or the followthrough. Ask Generation Y, listen to them and use their advice.