5 Things to Know When Writing For Generation Y

Be Authentic When Writing for Generation YMilennials

Writing for generation Y is the final post in our series about cross-generational communication.  Someone once said, “Good business is based on good communication.”  Communicating the right way with different generations is important to your success.

Writing traditionalists, baby boomers or generation Xers has its special challenges.

In this series we looked first at writing for traditionalists. Older business people like to use memos and have a formal writing style. The communication style of baby boomers was the second post in the series. Baby boomers prefer face-to-face communication and using the phone. The third post featured the communication style of  generation X.  They are fans of e-mail and other forms of electronic communications.

Let’s now look at the communication style of the youngest members of the workforce. Here are five questions to ask yourself when writing for Generation Y.

What is their background?

Those in generation Y were born between the early 1980s and 2000. I know this age group well.  I have taught college students for many years.  Katie and Jenny, my two new awesome associates, are millenials. Generation Y is also known as “Generation Next.”  These young business types can best be described as confident, connected and open to change, according to a recent study.

Wikipedia reports that most of them own a computer and a cell phone. More than half own a MP3 player.  They are very familiar with communication tools such as Skype.

What qualities do they have?

When writing for generation Y, be aware that they have some special qualities that distinguish them from other generations.

  • A qualities
    achievement-oriented, ambitious, attached to gadgets
  • C qualities
    civic-minded, creative, critical
  • F qualities
    fun-loving, focused on change, fierce text messagers
  • I qualities
    impatient, innovative, informal
  • O qualities
    optimistic, open-minded, open to positive feedback
  • T qualities
    techo-savvy to nth degree, tenacious, tolerant

What kind of business communication do they like to use?

Forget the written memo that you used for writing to the traditionalist.  For quick communication, generation Y likes to use the cell phone and instant messaging. When writing for generation Y, think of email first.  Use strong, precise verbs in the active voice. This is advice I give in Write Now (p. 81).  By the way, how good is your knowledge of common e-terms used in email?

How do they like to be treated?

Generation Y individuals are new to the workforce. So they appreciate positive, respectful language even more so than older generations.  Never talk down to them.  They like positive feedback given frequently.  They also like to be recognized for their work.

What is their communication style?

When writing for generation Y,  keep in mind that they are aces at instant messaging and multitasking. They are crazy about social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  They are even a step ahead of generation X.  This is why Craig, my partner, and I have asked our two new associates, Jenny and Katie, to take charge of our social marketing.

Generation Y likes to communicate in person for important messages.  Just like generation Xers, they like to have fun and enjoy humor. They are good at working in teams. They love learning through multimedia presentations.

This concludes our four-part series of writing for the multi-generational workplace.  Do you have any anecdotes that you would like to share with us?


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