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much has been writ­ten in re­cent years about the so-called mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion, which roughly en­com­passes peo­ple born be­tween 1980 and 2000. They are the “dig­i­tal na­tives”, hav­ing grown up with Face­book, smart­phones and Snapchat, and are said to ex­pe­ri­ence a paralysing sense of panic if sep­a­rated from their mo­bile de­vices.

De­pend­ing on which re­ports one chooses to read, mil­len­ni­als are self­ish, change ca­reers every year or so, have no brand loy­alty and are in­suf­fer­able nar­cis­sists. Given the num­ber of care­fully edited self­ies that now pop­u­late so­cial me­dia chan­nels and clog up the in­ter­webs, the nar­cis­sist tag seems hard to deny. But are older gen­er­a­tions jump­ing to con­clu­sions, and us­ing stereo­types to write fancy re­ports about? Or are they sim­ply jeal­ous of the free­doms that mil­len­ni­als ap­pear to en­joy (and de­mand), as Arye Kell­man of Clif­fCen­tral.com posits?

Kell­man, a young pre­sen­ter and cre­ative di­rec­tor at Clif­fCen­tral, quips that he “of­ten takes a ‘Mil­len­nial Day’”. Which ba­si­cally means that he works from home and only does the es­sen­tials – like mon­i­tor­ing his Twit­ter feed, for ex­am­ple, and show­ing up for his daily pod­cast at 4pm, where the cen­tral theme is “un­cen­sored”.

For Kell­man, the mil­len­nial la­bel con­tains many truths, and can cer­tainly guide ex­as­per­ated em­ploy­ers and man­agers.

“For pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions, there was no time to think about what they re­ally wanted to do or who they wanted to be, whereas mil­len­ni­als have been raised on these ques­tions,” he says. “They’ve been given the space to ex­plore new ideas and new ways of do­ing things…which can come across as fickle and self­ish, and I get that.”

He adds: “For me, al­though I may be at home, I’m con­stantly work­ing – I don’t need to have a set time to come into work.”

But for a pop­u­lar speaker and founder of pre­sen­ta­tion com­pany Miss­ing Link (and a non-mil­len­nial), it’s all just rub­bish, re­ally.

“The seg­ment­ing [of mil­len­ni­als] is an ex­ten­sion of gen­er­a­tion the­ory as a whole,” he says. “Now, while this con­struct made sense in the past – there was a good, clearly un­der­stand­able rea­son why an en­tire gen­er­a­tion could have been la­belled ‘baby boomers’…that rea­son was World War II. Even Gen Xers, their kids, could be some­what ex­plained. How­ever, from then on, there’s no group­ing that makes sense, it’s just peo­ple be­ing born all the time!”


“For an em­ployer, it’s sim­ple, you then cre­ate a cul­ture in which the tail wags the dog…this is non­sen­si­cal. If peo­ple don’t like how you run your busi­ness, let them leave,” he says.

“For the em­ployee though, it’s more nu­anced. It turns out that peo­ple are not as self-mo­ti­vated as you’d think. Most peo­ple can’t train as hard by them­selves as they do with a trainer or friend. If peo­ple want to grow, re­ally grow, they need to be part of a team that pushes them, not leave them to their whims.”

When it comes to tak­ing “mil­len­nial days” and in­sist­ing on the free­dom to work from any­where, he takes the view that while au­ton­omy is in­deed im­por­tant, even free­dom needs a frame­work.

“Peo­ple need con­straint,” in­sists Mul­hol­land. “Duke Elling­ton said, ‘I don’t

“They de­mand clearer, more de­fin­i­tive growth paths, they ex­pect to be chal­lenged con­stantly.”

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