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Answering the question on everyone’s mind, Red Diamond Congress panelists Amy Yag, managing director, Access TCA; Amanda Helgemoe, CEO, NuVista; and Pat Friedlander, owner, Word Up!, addressed the communication barrier between generations during the E2MA-led industry conference, held July 28-31 at Oak Brook Hills Resort in Oak Brook, Ill.

In a survey about intergenerational communication, the speakers posed 18 questions on electronic device preferences, social media usage and communication skills. A total of 73 responded to the survey, about half of whom were between ages 50 and 59.

The breakout session centered on communication issues with millennials, classified as those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s.

Speakers Yag and Friedlander stated that millennials are more afraid of in-person interactions than older generations, turning to electronic forms of communication instead.

Amy Yag of Access TCA and Pat Friedlander of Word Up! present statistics on millennials.

Amy Yag of Access TCA and Pat Friedlander of Word Up! present statistics on millennials.

“Millennials fear communication,” stated Yag.

When working with others electronically, 93 percent of respondents chose email while less than 3 percent use phone or text messaging to interact with others.

Friedlander added, “It’s a culture of distractions – technology actually blocks communication.”

David Mihalik, CEO, ELITeXPO, commented that the millennial mindset differs from their elders when it comes to face-to-face communication.

“Older generations are one to one, millennials are one to many,” said Mihalik.

Believed to be key in reaching this age group is understanding the communication channels with which they are most comfortable and frequently used.

Discussed during the breakout session, social media platforms are a way to connect and share messages. When surveyed, almost 96 percent of respondents had active LinkedIn accounts, designed for professional networking. About 84 percent had Facebook accounts and 72 percent are on Twitter. While less than 40 percent have joined Instagram and Pinterest, both visual-based platforms, nearly half were on Google+.

Since roughly half of the respondents check social media accounts on average at least once daily, such sites are becoming yet one more mode of communication with millennials as well as other age groups. About 23 percent check social media sites several times per week and 22 percent log on only a few times per month.

Millennials are further disconnected than older generations by frequently using wireless devices. Sixty-eight percent of respondents do not use landlines outside of work, increasing the use of emails, SMS messages and social media platforms to reach millennials, with 90 percent texting others on a regular basis.

Shopping habits are also affected by wide availability of online stores and communication. Just over half of respondents prefer to browse products and services online before physically shopping in-store.

On the show floor, face-to-face communication is even more critical to the sales process. When asked the purpose of attending a show as an attendee, respondents mostly went for networking at 68 percent, 64 percent to see new products and 53 percent for education.

In contrast to the statistics, a majority of respondents prefer in-person meetings to conference calls or Web-based video chats. About 60 percent would rather meet face to face versus 25 percent who want to pick up the phone and 15 percent who’d like to conduct meetings online.

Pat Friedlander provided tips on attracting and hiring millennials in today’s corporate environment. First is defining a corporate culture to which millennials are able to relate. Second is to provide incentives, both monetary and other forms, rather than a set salary to help motivate millennial workers. Having exact job descriptions provides structure and a well-defined role for the millennial within the organization. Another tip is to outline a clear career path to ensure millennial hires remain loyal. Finally is to establish the form of communication to which the millennial would best respond.

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