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Think Targeting ‘Millennials’ is Enough? Think Again

By Mark Feffer | 2-min read

As more employers view employee communications as essential for engagement and retention, satisfying millennials and their demand for mobile, consumer-like experiences has become a top priority. That’s no surprise: As of 2015, the millennials comprised one-third—the largest proportion—of the workforce, according to the Pew Research Center.  

Employers have responded by putting enormous amount effort into developing employee communications tools and strategies that the millennials, those born between 1981 and 1997, will embrace. Mobile-friendly web sites, video and gamification are positioned as keys to getting, and keeping, their attention.

But for your message to hit home you’ve got to recognize that demographic labels cast a wide net. The elder millennials have 16 years on their younger cousins. They’re well into their 30s and have a different set of hot buttons than those just starting their first real job. Focus on “the millennials” as a single group, and you risk engaging one set of employees at the expense of others.

What to do?

Know Your Audience

First, understand your audience’s dynamics. While there are always exceptions, a 36-year-old millennial is more likely to worry about mortgage payments and child-rearing expenses than a 23-year-old who’s focused on making the rent and paying for their next ski trip. That means your content will need different hooks to grab each micro-segment.

The good news is you probably already have the information you need to know your audience: data on age, work environment and the technology they can access both inside and outside of work. 

Tailor Your Message

By using that information, you can create a plan to reach both 20- and 30-somethings in the most effective way. For instance, when talking about financial benefits, you’re more likely to capture younger workers with topics that can help them live the way they want to, while older millennials will perk up at messages about financing a new house in a better school district. Understanding those different trigger points is critical for crafting messages that hit home.

But be careful here. It’s easy to pigeonhole people based on age, but there are always exceptions. Make sure every micro-segment has access to all information, and be sure to clearly tell them where they can find it.

A Word About Channels

Most people picture millennials as always-connected multi-taskers who are urban and hip. But millennials work in warehouses, production lines and restaurants, too, so consider their work environment as you create your campaign. Smartphone-equipped or not, a forklift operator may be more likely to spot a poster before noticing a text. 


Finally, you can’t know if you’re getting through if you don’t measure performance. Whatever tools you use, make sure you can track and analyze the results of each message and each channel.

Yes, millennials are a critical component of the workforce. But always remember that even within a single age group people have different preferences and concerns, and you can’t engage them if you rely on broad labels alone.