Born between 1980 and 2000, the members of Generation Y — or more commonly, “Millennials” — came of age in an era characterized by an unprecedented expansion of technology into virtually every aspect of modern life and colored by the continued shift of social norms toward soft skills, self-esteem, and soaring expectations.
Today Millennials make up the largest generation in history — and soon to be the single largest demographic in your workforce. In the US alone the generation numbers some 85 million strong (7 percent larger than the post-WWII Baby Boomers), and in 2014 already makes up 1 in every 3 employees. Worldwide, by 2025 Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce.
Now ten years on in their matriculation into the workplace, there’s scarcely a pundit left that hasn’t editorialized about the unique species that is the Millennial — that unapologetically ambitious persona, never out of arm’s reach of their iPhone, never embarrassed to share the full details of their lives via Facebook (or Instagram, or Snapchat…), and never quite willing to “wait their turn” in the search for significant, meaningful work.
Putting intergenerational snark and pop-anthropology aside, however, the fact remains that every organization around the globe has this question to answer:
How are you going to adapt to support the generation soon to make up 75% of your staff?
While the internet, cable television, and the mobile phone have all been credited with shaping the members of Generation Y, perhaps one of the most transformative technologies of the era often goes unmentioned — the rise of the home camcorder.
With the release of the first truly personal camcorders by Sony and JVC in 1982, the introduction of digital video recorders in 1995, and consumer-ready HD camcorders in 2000, Millennials grew up in an age when video moved out of the realm of professional specialists and into a world where anyone could record and share anything.
And that march of progress continues — today video technology is pervasive, a standard feature of every smartphone, tablet, laptop, and digital camera available.
And the trend doesn’t stop at recording. A host of new websites, social networks, and mobile apps have emerged to support video as a communication device for sharing moments and expressing ideas. As of this writing, Facebook’s Instagram platform for video has 150 million users. Twitter’s Vine has 40 million. And let’s not forget the biggest player of them all in consumer video — Google’s YouTube and it’s 1 billion monthly unique visitors.
While these video services are used by everyone, their demographics skew young. Forrester Research reports 70% of Millennials visit YouTube at least monthly, compared to 58% of Generation X and 49% of Baby Boomers. If anything, that shift is only widening — 83% of the burgeoning Generation Z now likewise visit YouTube monthly.
They aren’t just there to watch, either.
Every minute of every day more than 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. Every minute of every day, more than 8,000 videos are created and shared on Twitter’s Vine.
And before you dismiss all that video recording, production, and sharing as trivial, you should know there’s one other place where video use among Millennials is soaring:
In the past decade, video has transformed the way college students learn new material, interact with faculty, and demonstrate proficiency.
On campuses around the world, lectures are recorded for students to use as an on-demand study resource. Outside the classroom, professors record instructional videos to help students prepare for in-class activities. And video assignments are an increasingly common medium for students in graduate and professional programs.
That all adds up to a lot of video — the University of Essex in the UK, for example, now captures more than 80,000 hours (more than 9 years’ worth) of video annually.
The benefits of video in the classroom have proven many. Among the almost innumerable positive outcomes, students themselves report using video to:
And while students make use of video throughout the semester, they really rely on it when it comes time to show what they know. Video viewership spikes in the weeks leading up to exams — at Creighton University, for example, students reviewed nearly 5,000 hours of video (200 days’ worth) in just the one week leading up to Spring finals in 2014.
Now 10 years on in the integration of video into the classroom, students are thriving in this more flexible and interactive learning environment. Studies have shown “blended learning” reduces failure rates, improves exam grades, and can even boost attendance.
By the time they graduate, the average Millennial will have spent more than 20 years using video is a tool both for learning and for communications. As they prepare to enter the workforce, for many of today’s students, video has become just as integral to getting work done as email is for those of us in the corporate environment.
That means for many new college grads, however, entering the workforce today requires a demanding adjustment — right down to very tools they’ve been taught to rely on for learning, sharing, and communicating.
But won’t new grads just get used to the corporate way of doing things like they have in the past?
For the best and brightest — not quite.
A new study by Cisco looks into how the first wave of Millennials are adapting to the workplace, and the trend is clear — video will continue to play a prominent role in how this generation works. Just look at the data:
Learn more in our latest free white paper, Motivating Millennials: How to Use Video to Help the Next Generation of Employees Succeed.
In this paper, you’ll learn how your organization can support video to help your next generation of employees succeed, including: