Gen Y’s are generally defined as the population born between 1985 and 2005. Beyond their stereotypical traits of entitlement, narcissism and wanting everything on demand, Gen Y’s are creating a reputation for themselves as being civic minded with a strong sense of community. They prefer to work in teams of people to accomplish bigger missions and they care about meaningful work. They live in high density metropolitan areas and much like the Baby Boomers, they will change views on politics, social agendas, art, music, the way we shop for goods and services, the way we work, the way we live, etc. They are powerful in numbers and are at the beginning stages of understanding just how much they can accomplish. Look no further than the resignation of the President and Chancellor of the University of Missouri on November 10th and the 100+ US college campus protests that immediately followed. Gen Y has an opinion, the volume of individuals to affect mass change and social media to push their agenda.
As a collective group of owners and operators of investment real estate, we haven’t worked very hard to incorporate Gen Y as our customers or our staff to run our communities. But that is bound to change. Gen Y’s are and will be saddled with student loan debt to the point where they need affordable housing if they have any hope of moving out of Mom & Dad’s basement. And, we will need Gen Y as the Baby Boomers exit the work force with Gen X simply too small to fill the job market.
We must act now to invest time in learning how to appeal to Gen Y. Our traditional practices of 20 – 30 years ago were great at the time, but they won’t fulfill our needs into the future. It is up to us to challenge ourselves. It is up to us to figure out how to successfully attract Gen Y, both as customers in our communities and as talent to staff our communities. We had best figure out how to drive this inevitable change for ourselves so we aren’t merely responding to change after the fact.
Want to read more? Jim Ryan of Commonwealth Real Estate Services shared an interesting article with me about 2 20-year olds who bought their first home. A manufactured home. Google ‘Trailer Park Nation & Millennial’ and look for the Ozy.com article. Also, a profoundly interesting read about the impacts of various generations during these dark winter days is ‘The Age Curve’ by Kenneth Gronbach.