Dan Buettner, authored The Blue Zones: 9 Power Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest. Blue Zones are places where people live longer and healthier than anywhere else on the planet, passing their centennial years at a rate 10 times greater than most Americans.
As Buettner and his team studied the Blue Zones, they identified nine common traits shared by those communities where people live longer. He was surprised that it wasn't only food and lifestyle, but also creating a most beneficial environment. Here's a look at these longevity-boosting traits, known as the "Power of 9":
- Move naturally. "Do your own house and yard work, go up and down your stairs with your laundry, knead your own dough," Buettner advises. "Incorporate more movement every hour."
- Know your purpose. "Take time to recognize your values, strengths, talents, passions and gifts," Buettner says. Reflect, and work on yourself.
- Down shift. Relieve chronic stress by finding time each day to nap, meditate or pray.
- The 80% rule. Cut 20 percent of your daily calories with proven healthy practices: eat a big breakfast, dine with your family, and begin each meal by expressing appreciation.
- Plant slant. Eat mostly plant-based foods, and small portions of meat no more than twice a week.
- Wine at 5. Drinkers live longer than non-drinkers. This longevity tip had one exception: those in the Loma Linda Blue Zone were Seventh Day Adventists, who abstain from alcohol.
- Family first. Living in a loving, thriving family can add up to six years to your life. Work on a positive, committed relationship and stay close to your aging parents and grandparents.
- Belong. "Those with the most social connectedness tend to live longer," Buettner says. Be part of a group of healthy-minded, supportive people.
- Right tribe. Good friends have a positive effect on your longevity. Support them and adopt healthy behaviors together.
By Sherri Elliott-Yeary, Generational Guru
William James, the father of psychology, stated that a fundamental human need is to be appreciated. This idea is supported by many studies that show the number one need expressed by employees is to feel fully appreciated for their work. The bottom line: We do more for those who appreciate us.
Although leaders at all levels widely recognize the need for employee appreciation, it tends to be a blind spot. We generally believe we are much more appreciative of our employees than they think we are. Showing appreciation is not a matter of time and intention. It’s a matter of priority and action. We must convert our thoughts of appreciation into acts of appreciation.
You can appreciate something about an employee him/herself (e.g., professionalism, reliability, creativity, organization, anticipating needs, enthusiasm, helpfulness to others, balancing work and family). You can also appreciate an employee’s performance (e.g., quality of work, teamwork, hitting a deadline, great presentation, and consistency of results over time, level of commitment).
Keep in mind that appreciation is certainly not a one-size-fits-all need, so we need to personalize our appreciation.
For example, being recognized at a big department or company meeting might trigger more perspiration than inspiration for an introverted employee. Instead, use the information you learn about your employees to present an appropriate gift, token or sincere expression of appreciation. Invariably, the gift will be less important than the time and thought that went into it.
As a leader, here are some simple ways you can demonstrate your appreciation:
1. Allow employees to present their work to your boss. This is a great way to engage them, and it also shows your boss what kind of leader you are.
2. Offer employees a choice of projects to work on. When they buy into a project, they will put their hearts into it.
3. Tell an employee’s story of accomplishment at a team meeting. Detailed stories are perceived as more interesting, meaningful, thoughtful and memorable.
4. Sincerely and specifically communicate one or more of these expressions of appreciation…
- You really did a super job on that project!
- I am really impressed with your initiative.
- Thank you for handling that tough interaction so professionally.
- I appreciate the way you found a win-win solution.
- Thanks for helping me keep that meeting on track.
Gallup research revealed workgroups with at least a 3-to-1 ratio of positive to negative interactions were significantly more productive than those having less than a 3-to-1 ratio. In other words, more productive teams had at least three positive interactions for every one negative interaction.
What is the ratio for your team? Is it 1:1, 3:1, 5:1 or 10:1?
Track your team’s ratio for a week to gauge how well you are appreciating your employees. Look for moments to acknowledge your team’s efforts and results. Reinforce those behaviors that you want to see more frequently. Catch them doing something right … and do it often!
As long as your appreciation is sincere and meaningful, don’t worry about giving too much of it. To date, there are no studies of anyone ever feeling over-appreciated! So, shoot for a 10 or 20 to 1 ratio. The more appreciation you give, the more performance you will get.
The good news is leaders have complete control over this type of appreciation. No budget limitations or excuses here – there are literally thousands of ways to show your appreciation at little or no cost. Our goal is to be creative and outthink our competition, not outspend them.
Light up someone’s world with a little appreciation today!
Sherri Elliott-Yeary, Generational Guru is the President of Optimance Workforce Strategies, a Dallas, Texas-based consulting firm. Sherri’s passion for serving leaders enables her to deliver high impact training and tools that elevate leaders and their teams. She is a high-energy leadership advisor, author and generational expert. Sherri has built a track record of successfully managing the challenges of rapid organizational change and she possesses an in-depth understanding of business, people and organizations.
Collaboration vs. Collision: When do you think the last time you heard comments like these….. You’re right, but I’m the boss! Just do your job! I remember when … The kid wants a promotion after six months on the job! No! How did you react? Were you offended? Were you okay with the comment? Did you understand, or not understand, why someone would say these words?
The words and your reaction, as well as the reactions of others, reflect generational differences in the workplace. If you don’t think generation makes a difference, think of this example. When asked to recall how and where Kennedy died, the Veterans and Baby Boomers would say gunshots in Dallas, Texas; Generation X remembers a plane crash near Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.; and a Millennial might say, “Kennedy who?”
How can you effectively collaborate? • Understand the differences and learn to communicate in their language. • Develop training programs to educate your staff on the four generations. • Identify your knowledge workers and help them share their knowledge with the next generation.
It’s not a news flash to those who’ve had to unexpectedly look for a new position, but for younger generations, that’s how they view work. A job is the place to learn, gather experience, make connections, build skills or a portfolio, but it’s not the last stop on the career train.
At the same time, they’re creating options for themselves, keeping an eye out for what’s next, and trading information with their vast online networks. Mobility is not limited to Millennials, however, my research found that the younger the executive, the more apt to voluntarily change jobs. Executives Who Considered Leaving their Job for Another Opportunity in 2011
Generation X (31-45) 58%
Early Boomers (46-55) 55%
Baby Boomers (56-65) 45%
Traditionalists (65+) 22%
Respondents to our recent annual executive market intelligence survey were, on average, employed 6.6 years at their current organization, and the time at the job lengthened according to their age. Average Number of Years at Most Recent Organization
Generation X (31-45) 5.8
Early Boomers (46-55) 6.4
Baby Boomers (56-65) 7.0
Traditionalists (65+) 9.9
The last few years have especially signified that no job should be considered permanent and that complacency is the partner of long-term job search. Career management is a perpetual state where you are always setting the foundation for the next opportunity — no matter how old you are.
How to effectively lead your organization through periods of unknown
Managing a group through major change is like running the rapids, fighting white water. You confront a completely new set of problems as you go along. People act differently. The world around you speeds up. There’s less margin for error but more likelihood of mistakes and a bigger price to pay if you do fool it up. Many techniques that worked while you paddled along on a peaceful river no longer apply. Consider these tips for leading change in your organization.
If you are tentative during times of change, you are asking for trouble. If you must err, do so in the autocratic direction. Let there be no doubt about who’s in control. Your people need to have a voice, but you need to call the shots. Otherwise, you can expect anarchy.
Management by committee won’t work in groups that have been destabilized and changed. For one thing, it’s too slow of a process, and you don’t have any time to spare. Also, consensus management depends heavily on group agreement — something you will find difficult to achieve, simply because people are protecting conflicting interests.
You’re effectiveness depends heavily on your credibility among the employees, and you undermine that credibility when you wallow or waffle. People won’t rally behind a leader they can’t respect.
Don’t confuse respect with popularity. Everyone in your company doesn’t have to like you. Forget about being popular for now, and focus on getting results. Do what needs to be done. You can be authoritative without being overbearing. You can remain in control without over-controlling. Taking charge does not mean you have all of the answers, so be a good listener and hear the clues.
Clear priorities are one of the first causalities of change. New problems compete for attention and people pursue conflicting agendas. Some previously hot projects die a sudden death, and other high priorities get put back on hold during this period of change. Common agreement on what most needs to be done gets lost in all of the commotion and confusion. Due to the confusion, your employees can head in different directions, their efforts too random to produce much good. Some people simply disengage and drift, waiting for definite marching orders rather than running the risk of doing something wrong. Others may work hard individually but accomplish little collectively, proving that good intentions can result in wasted motion unless they’re tightly coordinated.
Alignment and clarity of effort depends heavily on your ability to orient the staff and orchestrate a coordinated approach. It stands to reason that your employees can’t be effective without a clear sense of direction. As Gen. Patton said, “A good battle plan that you act on today can be better than a perfect one tomorrow.” Your plan of action should outline crystal-clear tactical objectives, giving your employees laser-like focus.
Map out priorities. Keep them pure and simple. Tie them to a timetable with short- and long-term goals that your team can achieve quickly. You diffuse a lot of potential resistance when your instructions are clearly communicated and powerfully aligned to your strength as a leader. Even the people on your team who don’t like the plan are inclined to follow it when you make it simple, make sure every employee knows about it, and make your commitment clear.
You are the chief architect as the change agent, but you need the key subordinates to play a meaningful role in sharing the priorities and objectives. Otherwise your team will wallow and lose precious time trying to find itself instead of turning the ship around.
How to attract and retain local talent as you expand geographically.
There is “a tale of two mindsets” when it comes to understanding which employee groups are leaving and why they seek to leave. Furthermore, our research indicates that corporate leaders often fail to understand the non-financial priorities of their employees, such as the need for strong leadership, effective communication and career advancement opportunities, while the degree of importance that younger employees place on these non-financial priorities varies across geographies.
Companies seeking to enhance their global success need to figure out how to maximize business performance in the geographies they choose to operate in. As they expand globally, they will encounter several salient challenges:
- Attracting talent (especially leadership) to successfully navigate the market.
- Maximizing the performance of local talent.
- Retaining employees in markets with high turnover rates.
This becomes especially important in the context of the existing gulf between employers and employees on talent priorities.
Mind the gap
Generational differences fuel much of current social and political tension in Western Europe and the United States over globalization, nationalism and immigration, according to an in-depth analysis of results from the Pew Global Attitudes surveys.
Older Americans and Western Europeans are more likely than their grandchildren to have reservations about growing global interconnectedness, to worry that their way of life is threatened, to feel that their culture is superior to the cultures of others and to support restrictions on immigration.
This generation gap is less pronounced in Eastern Europe and is virtually nonexistent in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Nevertheless, Americans and Western Europeans of all ages are less likely than people in other parts of the world to tout their own cultural superiority and are less wary of foreign influence.
These findings are based on Pew Global Attitudes Project surveys conducted among more than 66,000 people in 49 nations.
As a consequence, although there is a growing recognition that in order for companies to build effective retention strategies they will need to tailor their tactics to account for generational differences, there remains the problem that many corporate leaders may be misreading the priorities among different generations, leading employers to offer the wrong incentives to the wrong employees.
Effectively addressing these challenges begins with a more complete understanding of the local work force, its various segments and what makes each group tick.
Rather than standardizing talent management, companies should devise country-specific talent strategies with the involvement of local leaders who are as versed on the different aspirations of the generations that make up the work force as they are on other aspects of their business.
Such an understanding could help companies:
- Better address key issues for global expansion and enhance return on investment on talent programs through the design of customized programs that speak directly to employees’ aspirations, ambitions and attitudes (based on the generational cohorts that comprise a given country).
- Enhance leadership capabilities for managing and collaborating across borders and generations, thereby enhancing management effectiveness and business performance.
- Create competitive advantages by helping them stay current on expected work force composition, employee benefit options and preferences, and other competitive offerings to determine the best plans to attract, retain and motivate top talent.
For those companies that embrace the concept of “plan locally, connect globally,” understanding and connecting with the aspirations of the demographic groups they are targeting can help them in their efforts to reduce cost and optimize performance on a global basis.
The recognition that customers are a heterogeneous bunch emerged as one of the important ideas for marketers in the last century. With the increasing importance of talent as a competitive factor, the recognition that generations differ around the world may be one of the important strategic avenues for decades to come.
While the recession flooded the market with available talent, the talent pool is once again starting to gain the upper hand in the job market. As the recession subsides, businesses that want to remain competitive will shift their focus from cost-cutting to employee retention. The trick is knowing exactly the right time to shift: companies that shift too soon will lose money, while companies that shift too late will lose talent.
Organizations that have cut staff and asked their remaining employees to pick up the slack may find themselves eventually losing good employees to burnout and the lure of greener pastures. Although it’s tempting to think the Great Recession unveiled some new economic model in which one person can effectively do the job of two, the reality is this model is not sustainable in a positive economy. Just as a runner can only sprint for so long, an employee can only burn the candle at both ends for so many months before he starts thinking about moving on.
Even despite tough economic times, the younger generations in particular still expect to achieve a balance between their LIFE and WORK, and organizations who rely on Generation X-ers and Millennials must meet these expectations in order to retain them. Beginning this year, there are more Millennials (born 1981-2000) alive than Baby Boomers (born 1944-1960). Over the next two decades, U.S. companies will lose 76 million Boomers to retirement, leaving 30 million jobs unfilled. The good news is, structuring programs that create the work-life balance so craved by Xers and Millennials does not necessarily mean businesses must put up with employees who are willing to work less. It simply means making a few minor adjustments to the traditional 9-5 paradigm, or maybe even implementing innovative mentoring and training programs, many of which are free.
Providing flexible work hours and accommodating people’s need to be in certain other places at certain other times is one of the most powerful ways to Attract and Retain top talent. A 2008 poll of 1500 technology workers conducted by Dice Holdings, Inc. revealed that 37 percent of workers would accept a salary cut if allowed to work from home. Accordingly, organizations may find they can save money and attract top talent for less by simply offering the ability to telecommute. This is a model that works even on a large scale—no less than 70 percent of Cisco Systems’ workforce currently telecommutes. Recent technological advances make remote management easier than ever before. It’s not difficult to monitor employees’ online presence, and VoIP phone systems will re-route calls to a direct office line through to any cell or home telephone. In this way, workers can be anywhere and still be available in the office.
Telecommuting programs are not the only way to motivate and retain talent. In addition to their desire for LIFE-WORK balance, Millennials tend to be highly motivated and ambitious. They want to work in positions where they have the opportunity to do meaningful work, to make a difference, to learn, and to advance their careers. Assigning projects that give Millennials the chance to work with senior management and share the spotlight keeps them excited about their job, which in turn motivates them to stay longer.
Adding this type of mentoring program is a cost effective solution to motivate and retain the best millennial talent, and it also has the added bonus of facilitating knowledge-transfer from soon-to-be-retiring workers to the up and coming leaders of the organization.
The workplace dynamic is changing. Businesses who successfully ride the crest of change will recruit and keep the best employees and maintain a competitive advantage in the market.
They’re young, smart, brash. They may wear flip flops to the office or listen to IPODs at their desk. They want to work, but they don’t want to work to be their LIFE.
These are Millennials a force of as many as 70 million, and the first wave is just now embarking on their careers — taking their place in an increasingly multigenerational workplace.
Get ready, because this generation — whose members have not yet hit 30 — is different from any that have come before them.
This age group is moving into the labor force during a time of major demographic change, as companies around the USA face an aging workforce. Sixty-year-olds are working beside 20-year-olds. Freshly minted college graduates are overseeing employees old enough to be their parents. And new job entrants are changing careers faster than college students change their majors, creating frustration for employers struggling to retain and recruit talented high-performers.
Unlike the generations that have gone before them, Millennials have been pampered, nurtured and programmed with a slew of activities since they were toddlers, meaning they are both high-performance and high-maintenance, they also believe in their own worth.
Millennials are much less likely to respond to the traditional command-and-control type of management still popular in much of today’s workforce. They’ve grown up questioning their parents, and now they’re questioning their employers. They don’t know how to shut up, which is great, but that’s aggravating to the 50-year-old manager who says, ‘Do it and do it now.’
A great deal is known about Millennials:
They have financial smarts. After witnessing the financial insecurity that beset earlier generations stung by layoffs and the dot-com bust, today’s newest entrants into the workforce are generally savvy when it comes to money and savings. They care about such benefits as 401(k) retirement plans.
Thirty-seven percent of Millennials expect to start saving for retirement before hey reach 25, with 46% of those already working indicating so, according to a September survey by Purchase, N.Y.-based Diversified Investment Advisors. And 49% say retirement benefits are a very important factor in their job choices. Among those eligible, 70% of this generation contributes to their 401(k) plan.
Work-life balance isn’t just a buzz word. Unlike boomers who tend to put a high priority on career, today’s youngest workers are more interested in making their jobs accommodate their family and personal lives. They want jobs with flexibility, telecommuting options and the ability to go part time or leave the workforce temporarily when children are in the picture.
There’s a higher value on self-fulfillment. After 9/11, there is a realization that life is short. You value it more.
Change, change, change. Millennials don’t expect to stay in a job, or even a career, for too long — they’ve seen the scandals that imploded Enron and Arthur Andersen, and they’re skeptical when it comes to such concepts as employee loyalty.
They don’t like to stay too long on any one assignment. This is a generation of multitaskers, and they can juggle e-mail on their IPAD’s while talking on cellphones while working.
And they believe in their own self-worth and value enough that they’re not shy about trying to change the companies they work for. That compares somewhat with Gen X, a generation born from the mid-1960s to the late-1970s, known for its independent thinking, addiction to change and emphasis on family.
They’re like Generation X on steroids. They walk in with high expectations for themselves, their employer, and their boss. If you thought you saw a clash when Generation X came into the workplace that was a fake punch. The workplace changer is due to Millennials.
Conflicts over casual dress
In the workplace, conflict and resentment can arise over a host of issues, even seemingly innocuous subjects such as appearance, as a generation used to casual fare such as flip-flops, tattoos and capri pants finds more traditional attire is required at the office.
But some conflict is inevitable. More than 60% of employers say they are experiencing tension between employees from different generations, according to a survey by Lee Hecht Harrison.
The survey found more than 70% of older employees are dismissive of younger workers’ abilities. And nearly half of employers say that younger employees are dismissive of the abilities of their older co-workers.
Who Are Making the Necessary Changes in today’s Workplace?
Xerox is using the slogan “Express Yourself” as a way to describe its culture to recruits. The hope is that the slogan will appeal to Gen Y’s desire to develop solutions and change. Recruiters also point out the importance of diversity at the company; Millennials are one of the most diverse demographic groups — one out of three is a minority.
“(Gen Y) is very important,” says Joe Hammill, director of talent acquisition. “Xerox and other Fortune-type companies view this emerging workforce as the future of our organization.”
As our discussions of the different generations goes forth, please keep in mind that every individual is different. That does not mean, however, that it is impossible for people with certain shared cultural experiences to develop similar sets of behaviors and outlooks. As much as we are individuals, we also share much in common with our peers. Thus, if we assert that Baby Boomers are avid learners, it does not mean that every Baby Boomer is an avid learner. We all know individuals who are Baby Boomers and who are not at all interested in pursuing additional learning opportunities. Likewise, if we say that Millennials are more likely to have good manners than Gen Xers, it does not mean that all Millennials are polite or that all Gen Xers are rude. It simply means that certain behaviors are more typical of each group than of others. The point is raised because you should not become frustrated when, for the purposes of discussion, certain broad characteristics are made. This is unavoidable, and you must realize that the broad statements are based on behaviors that have been analyzed and measured for statistically significant presence among population groups.
Millennials born between 1981-2000, depending on the source are vastly different from previous generations – especially Boomers. Members of the millennial generation cut their teeth on computer keyboards, and to them, computer technology and the Internet are as natural as breathing. This generation’s members know more about digital technology than their parents or teachers, and this is a promise of change not only the way families interact and communicate, but also how young people relate to school and learning.
Millennials combine the can-do attitude of Traditionalists, the teamwork ethic of Boomers and the technological savvy of Generation X. For this group, the preferred learning environment combines teamwork and technology. In a classroom with lots of Millennials, give everyone a task. When a few have completed it, encourage them to walk around the room and help others. They’re used to working this way in school.
Millennials are the most diverse generation in history. Members are born to the most diverse mix of parents in history as well – from teenagers to middle-aged moms who postponed childbearing to establish a career – from Boomers to Xers. One third of this generation was born to single, unwed mothers. This generation is less white and more culturally diverse than any generation in our history to date.
Many of the parents of Millennials are mid-life Boomers, used to winning and achieving. Millennial members have come to age in a very child-focused world. Many of them had Boomers as parents, and Boomers are as competitive for their children as they are for themselves. Boomers are used to getting their own way, and they have been strong advocates for their children. Because Boomers have worked long hours, because of many single parent families, because of an increasing violent world and because of the desire for their children to “get ahead,” Boomers have made sure their children participated in all forms of lessons and activities. Thus, Millennials have grown up in a very structured, busy and over planned world. Also, Millennials are made up of confident, optimistic young people who feel valued and wanted.
Here are some of the characteristics identified for Generation Millennial:
1. Closer relationship with parents.
2. Admiration for their parents (33% names one or both parents as their hero, rather than a pop culture celebrity).
3. A closer sphere of influence – a more dangerous world has created an environment which is more sheltered and structured, and where young people have been protected.
4. The small sphere of influence has contributed to the creation of a generation that is, in general, more polite and considerate than their predecessors. They are less likely to call adults by their first names, but rather use the more formal Mr. or Mrs.
5. Attentive and respectful. This generation has been brought up to show respect for others. In a crowded world where there are larger numbers of people in classroom and activities, civility becomes essential to getting along.
6. Programmed and team oriented. Some college administrators believe that many Millennials have “lost the sense of pure play.” They expect everything to be planned for them and do not expect to have as much freedom – or responsibility for structuring their educational lives.
7. Having spent a large percentage of time in structured activities, they are accustomed to having a lot of adult supervision. Thus, they may have poor conflict resolution skills.
8. Pressured to succeed. The Boomers, parents of the millennial generation feel pressured themselves to succeed and also transferred that pressure to their children. In addition, just as Boomers have lived in a world where there is increasing competition for resources, Millennials have done the same.
9. Involved. This is a generation of activists – young people who believe they can make a difference.
10. Egalitarian. This cohort often prefers to work in teams or groups. They definitely do not prefer hierarchy. Sometimes faculty finds the lack of authoritarian hierarchy in their groups creates ambiguity when it comes to having a point of contact for information.
11. Open and eager. Members of this generation are very open and eager. Students are responsive and “very smart” according to some faculty.
12. Demanding of themselves and others. Members of this cohort set the bar high for themselves and they, like their Boomer parents, expect success. They sometimes “expect” to get good grades and are upset when this does not happen.
13. Stressed. Compared with five years ago, 81% of college mental health service directors reported an increase in students with serious psychological problems. Pressure to succeed is one reason identified by some counselors.
14. Multi-taskers. This generation can easily manage to listen to music, work on the computer and watch television at the same time. This means they need a lot of stimulation in their learning environments and may be more focused than it seems to their teachers.
Here are some shared experiences of Generation Millennial:
1. Child focus (Sylvan Learning Centers)
2. Oklahoma City bombing
3. Busy, over-planned lives (more than 75% of time spent in structured experiences)
5. Malfunction at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant caused a near meltdown
6. Iranian students took 66 people hostage at the US Embassy in Tehran
7. US boycotts the Olympics in Moscow
8. President Regan shot
9. The Equal Rights Amendment passed (though not ratified)
10. The Space Shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after liftoff, killing all seven astronauts on board
11. The Exxon Valdez spills more than ten million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound
12. The Berlin Wall demolished
13. Persian Gulf War
14. Four white police officers accused of beating Rodney King were acquitted; shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado left 13 students and one teacher dead; the Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 10,000 for the first time
15. It took more than a month to declare a winner of the presidential election because of ballot (“hanging chad”) disputes
16. Four US planes were hijacked in attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing more than 3000 people leading the US into an ongoing fight against terrorism
17. The Space Shuttle Columbia exploded upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts on board.
18. War is waged against Afghanistan and Iraq
Here are some additional characteristics of Generation Millennial:
1. Bigger than Baby Boomer Generation
2. 3 times the size of Generation X
3. Roughly 26% of the population
7. Weak on interpersonal skills
10. Support social causes
12. Active/hands-on learners
13. Use technology
14. Spending power exceeds $200 billion
16. Strong views
17. Close to family
And finally, Generation Millennial in the classroom:
While boomers like to be in charge of their own learning and the Generation Xers prefer to work independently with self-directed projects, Millennials prefer learning that provides interaction with their colleagues. They like a lot more structure and direction than Generation X. The want to know everything up front as far as what is expected and what criteria will be used to evaluate their performance. They are the most likely to want to ask questions like, “Will this be on the test?” or specifics such as “how is this going to affect my life in a positive way?” Certainty and security is key for this group. Tying the leaning outcomes to economic objectives is important for Millennials. This generation is as comfortable with technology as a fish is with water. In spite of their technology savvy, they are in some ways very traditional. Members of the millennial generation are motivated to learn in order to reduce stress and increase their marketability. They place high value on developing good interpersonal skills and in “getting along.” This is a generation that is polite, believes in manners, adheres to strict moral code, and believes in civic action. This is a generation that places a high value on making money – more than any previous generation – and they see education as a means to this goal. Like Generation X, this generation likes learning to be entertaining and fun, and become quickly bored in a learning environment that is not highly active and interactive. They grew up with the Learning Channel and Chuck E. Cheese – edu-tainment and eat-o-tainment. Stand-up talking is deadly for this group who, even as adults, respond to music, art, games, and other creative activities. Leaning materials for this group should have the same levels of value interest and multiple focal points as those of Generation X. However, there is an important difference in Millennials in this regard. It is a generation of readers, so written information works well with this group.
Tips for Teaching Generation Millennial:
Some experts have asserted, “there is a growing mismatch between faculty and students in terms of teaching and learning.”
1. Develop opportunities for experiential learning. Small group discussions, projects, in-class presentations and debates, peer critiques, team projects, service learning, field experiences, developing simulations and case method approaches have been found to be successful for high school and college Millennial students.
2. Encourage the development of learning and sharing communities – small groups of students that can discuss and analyze readings and assignments. This also addresses the need of many millennial students for hands-on activities in the classroom.
3. Provide lots of structure. Having grown up in a highly structured world, Millennials look for structure in their learning setting. They want to know precisely what is required of them, when work is due and very specific information about expectations.
4. Provide lots of feedback. Providing frequent feedback is essential for Generations Y’s. This allows them to know when they are headed in the right direction and when they are getting off-track. Frequent attention from teachers is welcome.
5. Use technology. This is a generation that uses technology for “everything.” A classroom that does not incorporate it will not meet students’ needs for variety, stimulation, and access to information. Some classrooms still require students to study and learn in ways that, to them, are completely different from the ways they operate in every other aspect of their daily lives.
6. Make it fun. Like their Generation X predecessors, they want to enjoy their learning. If it is not fun, it will be cast into the category of “boring” and may become less effective. Millennials learn best when they are entertained.
7. Incorporate games. For them using computers games as an instructional technique can be very effective. These incorporate many of the strategies that Millennials have already developed for learning: multi-media sensory stimulation, interactive (either with other people or with the computer), individualization (customization) of the learning experience, and control over processing time, highly visual.
8. Be relevant. Like Generation Xers, Millennials will demand relevance in what they are learning. This will also want to “skip” steps in learning if there are areas of the information that have already mastered, and will avoid repetition and rote practice once they feel they have mastered the information.
9. Utilize their talents. This is a generation that likes to be useful and helpful. If you have students who know more about a topic than you do, let them talk about what they know. If they finish an assignment early, let them help other students.
10. Present the big picture. Many in this generation are global or “big picture” learners. They learn better if they have the big picture and then learn more concrete and specific information.
11. Allow for creativity and be creative. This is a generation that thinks in many dimensions at once. Provide opportunities for them to be creative in how they approach and fulfill requirements. Music, art, and games are good teaching tools.
12. Offer multiple options for performance. Try to provide a variety of acceptable, measurable outcomes so that students can optimize their performance.
13. Be visual. This group is the most visual of all learning cohorts. In general, visual learners predominate, but among millennial learners it is even more strongly preferred than in other age groups.
14. Be organized. Because they need a lot of structure, millennial students also learn best when materials are presented in a well-organized and rational way. Millennial students are much more prolific readers than Generation Xers, so reading materials for them are not a stumbling block. However, materials should be clear, use lots of white space, and be visually accessible, just as for Generation X. Summarizing key points is very important for this group. They want to know where they are going with their learning – and why.
15. Be smart. Unlike Generation Xers, Millennials will not look at you with disdain if they feel they know more than you about a specific topic. However, they will expect you to be open to hearing their ideas and to demonstrate competence as a teacher. To this generation being “a good teacher” is more important than knowing everything.
16. Be fair. Like their Boomer parents, fairness is important to this group.
17. Recognize the need for social interaction. This is a key for millennial learners, so learning strategies that incorporate social interaction work well.
18. Remember, talk is essential. Develop activities that encourage students to exchange information verbally. When they say it, it is converted more quickly to long-term memory.
19. Structure a learning environment that demands respect and positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement, from teachers and peers improved learning and increases motivation.
20. Tie learning to actions. For some key information, students can increase their recall if there is a specific action linked to their learning of a key fact. For example, if you want students to remember the date of the Norman invasion, then you give them the information, the year 1066, have then hold up 10 fingers and then 6 fingers. The information will stay with them forever.
21. Think positively. Positive thinking stimulates the brain. It increases the likelihood of success.
22. Be clear and precise. Give students clear goals, targets and purpose. Millennials particularly want to know precisely what they need to do meet the requirements of the class. This is not a lack of intellectual curiosity, but a desire to be efficient. Keep in mind that these students have been exposed to more information in their lives than the two preceding generations combined. They know a lot. For them, school is one of the many ways to get information, and they are used to getting what they need or want in ways that are efficient for them.
23. Allow focus time. The millennial generation’s attention span declines after 15-20 minutes. You have you student’s brain for only 20 minutes at a time. Break up a training class into 20-30 minute segments with some kind of activity (outbursts, e.g.).
24. Talk is critical. Talking stimulates the brain, in particular, the frontal lobe, the area which controls higher-level thinking and decision-making. Social interaction is important to memory and learning.
25. Enhance procedural memory with movement. Procedural memory is stored in the body – it is muscle memory. Riding a bike is an example of procedural memory. Procedural memory is easy to access. Relating procedural memory to cognitive tasks can improve recall.
26. Make learning relevant. Tie learning tasks to real-world problems. If it is not seen as relevant, there will be resistance to learning.
Baby Boomers are the last generation who played stick ball in the streets and sled downhill during snowfalls crossing major intersections. We were the first generation to play video games & the last to record songs off the radio on a cassette tape. We walked over a mile to school with no worries about being kidnapped or attacked. We learned how to program the VCR before anyone else. We played Pong, then Atari, until we graduated to the Commodore 64. We are the generation of Tom and Jerry, Looney Toons, Three Stooges and Captain Kangaroo..We traveled (and lived to talk about it) in cars without car seats, seat belts, and airbags. Our bikes had one speed. Our televisions received 3 channels which went off the air at night and the TV cabinet had doors. We watched Ed Sullivan and Mickey Mouse Club. We dialed our friends using a rotary phone. We paid a lot of money for long distance calls and forget about calling overseas. Our clothes were washed with wringer washers and our mothers cooked with lard. We screamed our friend’s name outside his or her house instead of knocking on the door and ran down the street chasing the ice cream man. We even lived without cell phones. We did not have flat screens, surround sound, iPods, Facebook, Twitter, computers & the Internet. But nevertheless we had a GREAT time (or is that just the way we remember it?)