Out of all the generations in the workforce today, it could be argued Millennials are the most talked about. However, one man who works to research America’s youngest working adults found that if you think Millennials are the up-and-coming generation, you’re already behind.
Jason Dorsey is the founder of the Center for Generational Kinetics. His research helps corporate, municipal and non-profit clients around the world understand the younger generations in the workplace.
Dorsey himself is a Millennial and helps people separate truth from fiction.
"They're the largest generation in the United States workforce, which is always one of those shocking things. And everybody thinks Millennials, they have no money. The truth is, Millennials outspend every other generation," Dorsey said.
You’ve heard of Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials, but what about Gen Z?
"The oldest Millennials are now around the age of 40 and yet everybody thinks they're 25 years old,” said Dorsey. “But we've been talking about that same 25-year-old for 15 years.”
Gen Z makes up the youngest people in the workforce. Dorsey believes seeing loved ones struggle financially in the Great Recession was Gen Z's defining moment. His research shows finances are a central part of their lives now.
Tulsans Madeline, Stephenie and Abbey are all in their early 20s and each know exactly what they're looking for in a job.
"Benefits and retirement, because one day I would like to retire and travel," Stephenie Wimberly said.
"Stability, benefits, salary were all really important to me," said Abbey Marino. "I wanted to be able to save money from an early age."
"We won't hit 65 and be able to retire. We're probably going to have to work beyond that. We're paying attention to that," Madeline Roper said.
"Gen Z is very practical with their money,” Dorsey said. “If you just look at retirement, remember, Gen Z is very young, but 12% of Gen Z are already saving for retirement. Which is a staggering number considering how young they are.”
As a Millennial, Dorsey understands the criticism.
"Our research shows Millennials are actually 2 generations, not one,” Dorsey said. “We have one part of the Millennials that are doing everything we're supposed to be doing.They're called Mega-llennials. But no one's talking about them. Those are the Millennials that show up to work, pay their bills, the largest generation in the workforce. No one's talking about them. And then you have another segment of the Millennials that are called the Me-llennials, which are struggling to create their real-world traction."
News On 6 interviewed Dorsey before the pandemic hit, so now, as the United States is figuring out how to restart the economy, many cities and states are wondering how to attract young people. In Tulsa, the George Kaiser Family Foundation is paying applicants $10,000 to move to town and work here.
Dorsey believes if companies can get Gen Zers or Millennials to Oklahoma, those groups tend to bring their friends with them. Dorsey adds that Millennials generally settle down in places they like.
"This is where most cities fall down. They don't know how to message to Millennials to get them to take a new look at Tulsa,” Dorsey said. “They say, 'Oh, I already know Tulsa.' You say, 'No, no. You don't know Tulsa. Let me introduce you to the Tulsa that's a great fit for you.' And you have to do that through video, and through influencers, and on the social media platforms they use.”
"I'm really passionate about it. And between and the community I've built here, it's a great life. Tulsa feels like home right now," Marino said.
Dorsey's research shows the most successful organizations are where generations work as one.
"That's the key. It's not about one generation catering to the other. It's about each generation recognizing that every generation brings something valuable," Dorsey said.