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Learn what makes the three generations in the workforce unique and what type of communications appeal to them.

How to Connect with Three Generations in the Workforce

Guest: Debbie DeWitt, marketing communications manager for Visix

The days of impersonal employment are over. Sure, in our grandparents’ day, it was enough to have a job that paid well enough to raise a family, and after 50 years you got a gold watch. But the 21st century is a very different time, and people’s expectations and motivations have changed drastically.

A lot of this shift in focus was started by the Baby Boomers, who wanted a new approach to the work environment, and then continued by their children, Generation X. The newest generation in the workforce – millennials – are the product of these changes in perspective, and what they want is very different than previous generations.

This podcast continues our conversation about audience motivations in our previous episode. We take a look at each of the generations in the workforce, with special emphasis on millennials who have drastically changed the workplace culture. To be effective communicators, we need to understand these differences in order to appeal to each generation in the workplace.

  • Understand the differences in the generations currently in the workplace
  • Get tips to engage Boomers and Gen X with different content types and designs
  • Learn what’s important to millennials and why you should care
  • Explore the new workforce, their priorities, and what to show on signs to engage them

Subscribe to this podcast: iTunesGoogle Play | Stitcher | Spotify | RSS

Learn more about this topic in our Masterclass Guide 2: Digital Signage Communications Planning

Transcript

Derek DeWitt: Today we’re here with Debbie Dewitt, marketing communications manager for Visix. Hi Debbie. How are you?

Debbie DeWitt:  I’m good, thanks Derek.

Derek DeWitt: We really see a marked difference in the different generations, and the way that the different generations in the workplace today… their expectations are actually significantly different from one another.

Debbie DeWitt: I think every generation thinks they’re vastly different than the ones before them and the one after. But what we’re seeing is, as time goes on, and especially as technology evolves, those gaps are getting larger. The way we interact with information, the way we interact with the world and with each other.

Derek DeWitt: The way we process information.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. It’s really, really changing. And so, for example, a baby boomer is going to think very, very differently than a millennial and, really you have to address different motivations. Because we all talk about, “Well, my parents brought me up like this.” Then they are like, “Well, I came up in a very team-oriented thing.” So, motivations have changed, as well.

Derek DeWitt: We always think, “Oh my God, the people who came before me were so boring, and the people who come after me are so weird and lazy and stupid.” Well, let’s talk about the [generations] How many are there? Three? Four? Three?

Debbie DeWitt: You might get some overlap as one generation enters and the other leaves, but I think that three, that’s most of the time what you’re dealing with, in terms of a workplace anyway. I mean, if you’re dealing with a hospital and it’s public-facing signage, you might be addressing the full spectrum.

Derek DeWitt: Sure. If you’re doing that to the general public, it could be anything from three-year-olds up.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. But for the purpose of this, we tend to concentrate on organizational communications. So, usually about three different generations. 

Derek DeWitt: What used to be called the Veterans or the Silent Generation, they’re all 74, 75 so they’re out . 

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, they’re retired. 

Derek DeWitt: So, we have Baby Boomers as the older generation in the workforce today. 

Debbie DeWitt: Not necessarily “older” – let’s just say “more seasoned”. 

Derek DeWitt: Seasoned, like a good steak. Pew Research just came out in January with a new classification system for the ages of the different generations. So according to them, boomers are right now, in this year [2019], 55 to 73 years old. So they’re all probably in upper management in these kinds of hierarchical organizations, at least – owners and this. What are they all about? I mean, what’s their motivation? 

Debbie DeWitt: Well, I think this generation is a lot about work ethic. They’re very work focused, and they want to know what’s happening, but they also want to know why. They’re very much about why. 

Derek DeWitt: That’s what marked them as significantly different than their parents is wanting to know why things were the way they were. 

Debbie DeWitt: Basically, they want to feel like they’re in the know. They want to understand what’s going on. Again, we talk about expectations. They want to know where they’re heading, whether it’s personally or as a business or as a school. So, basically for digital signs, this is the one generation that – that mission statement that some younger generations may just think is so passé – it’s important to this generation. They want to know what is our mission, what is our culture, what are our values?

Derek DeWitt: Well, they were the first generation to insist that this sort of thing be made public, I think.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, thank you to them for that. They’re the ones who said, “Do we have a mission other than money?” And so it’s great. And since they’ve been part of that, they expect that, and you want to reinforce that on digital signs. Again, with knowing where you’re heading, we’re back to KPIs. We’re back to goals, progress toward goals, rewards for achievement. But really it’s mainly – they’re very into information. But don’t just give me facts; give me theory, give me reasoning.

Derek DeWitt: And you know, like I said, they’re very work oriented. I’ve read elsewhere that the baby boomers are the ones who essentially created the concept of the workaholic.

Debbie DeWitt: Workaholics or not, they’re work focused. So, other things you can show on signs is recognizing teams for hitting targets. You want to make sure to include everyone who contributed. That’s the other thing. Don’t just say, “Hey, good job, Charlie.” Also, you need to say, “Good job, Janet” or whoever is in involved in that – you want to hit every one of them.

Productivity stats, safety stats – they let them know that management sees you, they’re paying attention to what you’re doing. So you’re going along with this greater goal. But also, you know, they are the upper end of the workforce, so health tips, benefits announcements, retirement plans – this is going to be stuff that’s really going to appeal to this generation.

Derek DeWitt: So, then the next group, which is us, is Generation X. I’ve always kind of hated that name. But according to Pew, in this year [2019], we are between 39 and 54. So, how are they different? What do they build on from the boomers?

Debbie DeWitt: Well, I think that they also want big picture. They want the specifics, just like the boomers, and everything. But we grew up, I’m going to say we, because that’s us. So, we grew up watching Sesame Street.

Derek DeWitt: Oh, that’s true. We were the first.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. We’re the first ones who’ve got our information through School House Rock as well as the classroom. We’re very much a TV generation. And basically, we’re kind of the first ones that, and lucky us, we also got the web. We got social. We’ve been exposed to all these different things, so we’re the first ones that are super comfortable getting information in a lot of different formats.

So faster things. You can have more on a screen, you can have… You know, we’re all used to two content zones or windows, whatever you want to call them. And then two tickers at the bottom, a stock ticker up at the top. You can put a lot of information in front of us, and we’ll choose what we want. We’ll pay attention when we want. But we’re used to having a lot of different places we can go to get whatever we want.

Derek DeWitt: You know, it’s interesting you mentioned the tickers because I, like our parents, who…the whole [thing is] very busy – I’m thinking of CNN and other news outlets on television – they have so much stuff on that screen now. And they didn’t used to be that. It was a guy or a gal talking, and that’s what it was. And then over time, they started putting more stuff on there. They put in the ticker. At that point, I started to think, “My gosh, that’s an awful lot of stuff to follow”, but I got used to it. But that stuff was introduced during our adulthood, right?

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, absolutely. So, you can use a lot more. And also it doesn’t mean having a lot on screen at once, but also – throw up a still message, throw up a video, throw up a live stream. Variety is a lot of it. We are very much the ones who, if you think about the advertising, the changes that have happened in this Gen X, were used to the storytelling. We’re used to the ad campaign that isn’t a single ad; it is a campaign that runs sometimes over a year. It has a consistent character or set of characters. So, we got used to being marketed to, but we wanted a little more depth to it. We wanted a little more drama or a little more story.

Derek DeWitt: When our generation got into marketing and advertising, higher positions in those companies, we started really coming up with the sort of off-color type of advertising. We’re going to make jokes about ourselves. We’re going to say sometimes quite bizarre… actually things that certainly someone in their late seventies now would probably just think, “How is that a way to sell widgets? Why is there a bird selling insurance?” It doesn’t even make sense.

Debbie DeWitt: Yes. That, and also, I think, that there’ve been classic motivators like fear, love, belonging, sex that advertisers use, these common things. But those expanded so much more for our generation that they went, “It’s not just ‘tell them this one little thing’ –  be creative with it, have fun, have something they can connect to.”

Derek DeWitt: And I think this ties into the next group as well, who’ve taken it and run with it. It was during our youth, our 20s and so on, 20s and 30s, that these studies started coming out identifying…you’d see these articles, “Hey did you know that advertisers do this? Did you know that in this picture of a whiskey bottle, there are actually female curves to attract men”, and so forth. And so we started getting kind of cynical about being obviously marketed to. And so we kind of started to turn that game on its head.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s funny that you say that, because I was going to say – in relationship to what you were talking about – that the boomers are now in management, and those guys wanted the mission statement. “Where are we going?” Well, our generation, Generation X is the one who said, “So, are we getting there?” And we’re the first, we’re the ones who first said “transparency”. “I want to know if we’re doing what we said we’re going to do.”

Derek DeWitt: Or are we just liars?

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, it’s basically we definitely want, not just progress to goals, but we kind of want to hold ourselves and others accountable. We are the first…not the first generation, but we are a generation that very much learned from our parents who went through a lot of, I think, a lot of social upheaval. And we came in with this idea that I think we inherited from our parents. The reason they were workaholics is because they wanted to make a better future for us. This generation is very much about “How’re we doing? We came into it with a promise of a better future. How are we doing with that?”

Derek DeWitt: Well, and we were told, not that long ago, some years ago, that we were the first generation – again, we’re looking in very broad strokes here – the first generation as a whole, that we’re not necessarily going to have a higher standard of living than the previous generation.

Debbie DeWitt: Well, that’s just a bummer, and I don’t even know how to respond to that.

Derek DeWitt: Well, remember before we were called Generation X, we were called the “slackers” because of that movie. We were called slackers. Our parents thought, because they were so focused on work and make a better world and make a better future and make a better this and that, and we just kind of went like, “I don’t know, let’s just hang out.” And so we were called the “slacker generation” for a long, long time, because we were seen as not being so focused and committed. And then it turns out, we are focused and committed, but as you say, on different things. But “Don’t lie to me, I need to see proof that you’re doing what you said you’re going to do.”

Debbie DeWitt: The fact is every generation looks at the one coming in after it “You’re just not as hard workers as we are.” So, that was a label that came from a generation that were workaholics. What it is, is that they saw something new, which is Gen Xers very much want to balance work life and outside work life.

Derek DeWitt: And family’s more important. I’m not saying more important, but spending time with your family is more important to our generation than it was to much of our parents’ generation.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, we need balance. We need balance. So, what does this all mean if you’re someone trying to do digital signage and you’re listening to this? Basically, let them know how you’re doing against those goals. You’ve given the mission statement for the older generation. These guys want to know if we’re actually doing it. They’re involved. They really want to balance life and work. So, you’re going to want to tie into that outside – not just inside the office messaging or inside the hospital, the school. You want to talk about the community as a whole, very much about the world at large. We are about recycling, green initiatives. There are a lot of community practices that you want to hit. Quite frankly, we’re also, and I said this before, we’re the web generation. So we’re kind of the ones that make it…

Derek DeWitt: Our parents created it, and then we used it.

Debbie DeWitt: Right. And so we’re used to, basically, when someone feeds us some information, there’s always a website. Any advertisement, it’s not just – I mean, sometimes there’s the Just Do It Nike ad and that’s all it says – but almost everything we see, they tell you go to the web for more, whether it’s to order it or just learn more about it. So that ties into putting a call to action on any of your messages. We’re the web generation – these guys are the perfect ones to say, go to this URL. We’re used to going to a webpage to learn more. So, if you’re talking about something, give them a URL that’s easy to remember and they will go for it.

Derek DeWitt: So now we come to millennials. And it’s funny because, not that long ago, people were talking about millennials as if they were some brand new breed, new subspecies of humans, unicorns or something. So Pew has finally come out with the age grouping for millennials. What do you think the age range is right now? How old are millennials?

Debbie DeWitt: I hear people say millennials, from anywhere like 30-year-olds down to teenagers, they call them millennials,

Derek DeWitt: Right. Millennials – listen carefully, folks – millennials, right now, this year [2019], are 23 to 38 years old, which means…

Debbie DeWitt: That’s a large part of your, if it’s an office, a large part of your workforce.

Derek DeWitt: It’s over half already.

Debbie DeWitt: A lot of the teachers in your K-12 school districts are this age.

Derek DeWitt: They’re millennials – all the way up to 38. So basically, if you’re in your mid-20s to late 30s, you’re a millennial. Which means yeah, a lot of them are going to be in upper management positions.

Debbie DeWitt: Certainly middle management by now. I believe they’re also…this is your growing work force. This is where…this is your hiring pool.

Derek DeWitt: It’s estimated by 2025, millennials will make up over 75% of the workforce.

Debbie DeWitt: It’s super important to pay attention to this generation because the thing that is – as I said, everybody thinks each generation is different – but millennials are very, very different than us, than Gen X.

Derek DeWitt: They’re really about connections, connections, connections.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. They’re about connections. They’ve grown up with… I remember using my hand to turn on a television at the television. When the remote control came out…

Derek DeWitt: You had to walk across the room and turn a dial.

Debbie DeWitt: Yes. We were glad for the invention of cable. Now they’re like, “What is cable?”

Derek DeWitt: “What’s broadcast TV?”

Debbie DeWitt: This is the smartphone generation. They’ve grown up with a screen in their hands most of their life. They’ve grown up with the web. They’ve grown up with the web their entire life. And so, when it comes to, especially in the workplace, it’s super important to pay attention to these people, because as we said, it’s the largest growing force. There are some stats here I’m going to throw out at you that are pretty important, based on some studies.

We talk about engagement at work. You know it helps with productivity. It makes people stay at a job longer. It makes them happier, which makes them more productive, which adds to the bottom line.

Derek DeWitt: They have more ideas.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, they’re more creative. Basically, engagement’s a big topic. We talk about that in some other podcasts. But if you’re not engaged, you’re not doing your best job, and you’re not going to stay there. Currently, or at least in the last couple of years, there was a survey that said only 29% of millennials are engaged at work. So that’s less than a third.

Derek DeWitt: That’s not good.

Debbie DeWitt: Now, that’s engaged. 55% said they’re not engaged – like flat out, not even engaged. And 16%, “I am actively disengaged”, like “I’ve tuned out.”

Derek DeWitt: That’s the slacker.

Debbie DeWitt: That’s the, “I hate my job. I’ve tuned out. I’m just there for the paycheck.”

Derek DeWitt: So let’s just say… So that means, what you’re saying is half – 55% say they’re not engaged at all. They’re not actively disengaged or engaged. They just like, “meh”.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, that’s kind of, you’re in the middle like, “I don’t feel like I’m engaged or disengaged.”

Derek DeWitt: Which means that if millennials make up 55% or 50% of the workforce today, that means one quarter of all of your workers just don’t care. 

Debbie DeWitt: The good news – the thing is engaged millennials, they say, are 64% less likely to change jobs within a year.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, I’ve read that. They don’t have a problem jumping jobs. There’s no shame, there’s no… of course you just change jobs. It’s like, yeah, you don’t like a shirt, you change that shirt.

Debbie DeWitt: But what I like about this stat is not the “64% less likely to change jobs”, it’s the “in the next 12 months”. And that is key because that means you have to constantly engage. It doesn’t mean they’re engaged right now, so they’re going to commit to your company or your organization. You have to constantly engage.

So, millennial turnover costs the US economy over $30 billion annually. Anybody who runs a business knows it is super expensive to hire an employee – to do the recruitment, to spend the time and resources, and sometimes employ an agency, psychological testing in some cases. You don’t know what all is involved, but it takes so much time to find a good candidate, one who really fits, and that costs you a ton of money. So, every person who walks out your door, if they’re a millennial, that’s costing the US $30 million.

Derek DeWitt: “Billion”, I thought you said.

Debbie DeWitt: I’m sorry, you’re right, billion.

Well again, these are very much the social media users, you know. They’re all about connections. They’re about common interests, and they’re about constant feedback. So, recognition is very, very big for these guys. 26% of millennials surveyed said that recognition motivates them.

Derek DeWitt: Really? Just recognition?

Debbie DeWitt: Just “Recognize me.”

Derek DeWitt: “Hey, good job!” That’s it.

Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. That’s all I want to hear. So you can see the progression. One generation says we need a mission. The next generation says we need to know how is the business doing against that mission. And millennials are saying, “How am I doing?” Can you give me some recognition?

Derek DeWitt: As well as, “Am I working for a company that upholds their statements, their morals?”

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. These are all building blocks, not individual progressions.

Derek DeWitt: They’re “and alsos” not “instead ofs”.

Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. So, for digital signs, obviously you want to give feedback. You want to give kudos and recognition. You need to think about the way that millennials interact with the web and smartphones and tablets and that kind of thing. You need to think about how they interact with their friends and colleagues.

Derek DeWitt: You see this with students – college students or what have you, they’re sitting in a park, texting one another rather than talking to one another. And our generation goes, “Oh my God, what is that?” But this is how they’re, because the way that you interact, say using Instagram, you can’t do that in life. It’s a completely different way to interact with each other. So yeah, they have a completely different communication style and different expectations as to how that works. I also think they’re very good at parsing the different communication methods, the way that they work. I interact on Twitter like this. I interact on Instagram like this. I interact with the, whatever, my boss like this, my friends like this.

Debbie DeWitt: And they expect different things from each of those channels. They don’t expect you to feed them a bunch of content that’s really good for YouTube on Instagram.

Derek DeWitt: Right. You’d be just a lame-o.

Debbie DeWitt:  Right. And the same thing goes for your digital signs. You need to – I mean, that’s true of all digital signage, whether we’re talking about motivations or anything else. One message doesn’t necessarily fit for every social media site, your digital signs, your newsletter, your website. You have to tailor your communications to whatever portal or medium you’re using. I will say, you were saying they’re very good at parsing information. That’s true because these guys…

Derek DeWitt: …and shifting context very quickly).

Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. So, on your digital signs, your first thing is you have got to get their attention. We joke about everybody’s on their phones, but the fact is, in most cases, your screens are on a wall that people are walking past, and they might be on their phones. So it’s got to appeal to them.

You can show a lot more things more frequently; you can just put more in your playlist. We talked about different formats – you can do even more types of formats. I highly recommend you pull in some social media feeds because they’re on social media. It’s a great way to interact and feel like it’s community-based. And if they’re checking social media on their phone, they’d love to look up and see… “Hey!” Especially if it’s a college, if you’ve got your football team or something, why not have that feed up there and they can also see it there.

Obviously recognition. We talked about lots of kudos, even just micro-recognitions, like “Happy birthday” or just, you know…

Derek DeWitt: Like your Shout Outs you were talking about – that’s a micro recognition. It’s in, it’s out,  it’s boom, it’s up. How long do they stay up? A day?

Debbie DeWitt: If. It depends on obviously what you’re showing, but what you don’t want is, you don’t want something showing up all day, every day. You want to try different things. You want to put different things different places. It depends. If someone’s walking by, you just want to have four things that cycle through at 10 seconds each, so that there’s more chance of people seeing it. Whereas if it’s a waiting room in a hospital, you can have a lot – much longer stuff, video formats, that kind of stuff.

Derek DeWitt: Not just that but…you were saying variety, this generation really wants variety. Not necessarily because…I think the sort of snotty, older person would say, “Yeah, because they don’t have any attention span.” But it’s not that. It’s that, I think, they process information so quickly, and they’re multitaskers. And multitaskers – contrary to what people think, “Oh, they’re distracted,” and this – multitaskers are constantly taking tabs on where information is, and then accessing it at the moment that they need it. 

Debbie DeWitt: The thing that we say now is you don’t have to know things. You have to know where to find things. You don’t need to memorize things. 

Derek DeWitt: I don’t know more than two phone numbers.

Debbie DeWitt: Right. I don’t need to memorize things. I don’t need to memorize facts. I can go to Wikipedia. But you have to know how and where to find those things. And it’s like we say, each medium should have different things on it and you become an expert. Like you said, millennials are super-fast thinkers. They’re super-fast at parsing information, and they know, “I should find these things here, these things here and I should get different… I have different motivations for each one of those. And I get different feedback and different feelings from using each one of them.”

Derek DeWitt: Right. So the digital signage really can tap into all of that.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. And it’s back to these motivations we talked about [in another podcast] –   Those core motivations, external and internal, that we talked about. Those apply across the board. It’s just that now you take it into the generational focus and go, “Now within that, I can show more stuff, different types of things.”

Another thing is humor, being funny. Millennials don’t like being marketed to.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. They really find it objectionable. 

Debbie DeWitt: Especially social media where they’re like, “This is social. This is not marketing.” They expect to be marketed to if they’re watching a commercial. 

Derek DeWitt: They don’t like spammers and they don’t like trolls. 

Debbie DeWitt: Right. So, you really have to make it pure communications, which should be easy if you’re talking to employees. I always joke and say every message is an ad, you are always advertising. Don’t have your advertising department just give you an ad they ran and put that up. They don’t like being marketed to. They want it to be more community-based. Like “Hey, we should all know this.”

And they really love humor. They love memes. They love funny stuff. It’s funny because we think everybody’s always on their phones, but in fact, word of mouth is huge with this generation because word of mouth means something different now. 

Derek DeWitt: And social media is word of mouth. 

Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. You can talk to someone, which they do, but they also can share and comment and that kind of thing, and post. Gamification, again that we talked about. Contests, prizes, rewards, even just kudos – gamify as much as you can and millennials love it. They’ve grown up with it. 

Derek DeWitt: And it won’t cost you that much. Make the rewards. Because, the funny thing is that they find, I think when they do studies on gamification, what the reward is doesn’t really matter that much. It’s not ” new car!” 

Debbie DeWitt: We joke about the gold star that we got in school. It’s simply being recognized and that gold star. Or, it can be – bring a food truck in for lunch. It can be something simple. We do this automatically here at Visix. If it’s your birthday, you get the day off. It’s not counted against PTO.

Derek DeWitt: Ah, that’s nice.

Debbie DeWitt: It’s just something we do for our employees. But you know, you could do that. Give them a day off. If you don’t have to bring a temp into cover them, does that cost you a lot? Or, like I said, it can be as simple as recognition on your digital sign can be looked at as a reward. But anyways, we’re going to do a whole podcast on gamification, so we’ll go into that. But that is something you can do.

The biggest thing is to think about communications as a dialogue with millennials. Millennials, they want to be a part of the conversation. Don’t just tell me something, let me react to it. Let me be a part of this conversation. So, you want to make it as two way as possible, which when you’re thinking of digital signs can sound odd or weird.

Derek DeWitt: Interactive screens.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, interactive touchscreens can help certainly. But you know, that’s also an investment. I think everything is turning touchscreen because, the fact is, talk about that – millennials, they really expect touchscreens. And the generation coming up next is like, “If it’s not touchscreen, I don’t know why it exists.” They think it’s broken.

Derek DeWitt: “Is that a poster?”

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, they think it’s broken. But basically, you can do this again through having links in messages. But don’t link out to just another thing that shouts the information at them. It needs to be a forum. It needs to be somewhere that they can comment. It needs to be somewhere they can ask questions. It can be somewhere they can review it, rate it, like it, share it, comment.

So, make them part of that conversation. And again, if it’s benefits sign up, how do you do that? It’s as simple as putting it on your intranet, and that’s where they can go to be a part and start a conversation with their coworkers. 

Derek DeWitt: And then, of course, coming up next – we don’t really have any real hard data on these upcoming generations. There’s what’s being called Generation Z. And again, you might think, oh, that’s little kids. It’s 7 to 22 [in 2019], which means they are also now entering the workforce.

Debbie DeWitt: They’re in the workforce.

Derek DeWitt: There’s certainly, the high end of that are in college. They’re certainly, all your K-12 are all Gen Zers now (maybe not “K”). They’re students, and they’re beginning to enter the colleges, and they’re beginning to get degrees, and they’re beginning to enter the workforce as well. And they are as different from millennials as millennials are from us, from Generation Xers. 

Debbie DeWitt: Like I said before, the one thing that I can tell you, there’s not enough data for us to say this is what appeals to them. Always build on millennials. Start there. Don’t start at boomers and think you’re going to transition that to Gen Z. But start with millennial stuff. Again, community and all that.mBut this is the always-on-tech generation. These are the people who had a phone or an iPad with a video running when traveling and everything.

Derek DeWitt: They’ve never turned them off. 

Debbie DeWitt: They’ve grown up and this is the touchscreen generation where they really don’t… It makes sense if it’s a big video wall installation which is super cool, they’ll still probably try to touch it.

Derek DeWitt: You’ll still see little 10-year-old fingerprints on it.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. They’ll still try to touch it. So, that’s the one thing you’ve got to think about these guys is – again, build on the community, build on the tech, use touchscreen. 

Derek DeWitt: It will be whatever the millennials are doing, more.

Debbie DeWitt: Yes. Ramp it up.

Derek DeWitt: And then – and God knows they’re not being marketed to yet, but just for warning ahead of time – those being born now, up to about six or seven years of age, Pew is calling them Generation Alpha, which makes it sound like they’re about to become our overlords are masters.

Debbie DeWitt: That’s fine. I trust them.

Derek DeWitt: They might, they’ll be the ones that integrate technology into their bodies. 

Debbie DeWitt: Right. But the thing is, you may already be hitting these people. If you’ve got a hospital, you’ve got a waiting room, you need to also put up content for kids, and you know that. The fact is, I will say this about both Gen Z and Alpha, is one of the trends we’re seeing is this is a very kind generation. They’re really coming up with values that are about kindness, tolerance, supporting each other. 

Derek DeWitt: Watch MasterChef Junior. They are the nicest – besides MasterChef Canada (who are also super nice)…MasterChef Junior. Those kids. I mean, they kind of make me tear up because they’re so supportive. 

Debbie DeWitt: They are. They are, because this is this generation. Actually, I believe you just wrote a blog for Visix that talked about what K-12 students say they want [on digital signs]. 

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Jill Perardi mentioned that.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. And they talked a lot about…they want reinforcing things. They want “no bullying”. They want, “good job”. They want a community thing. Within the school, they want support and they want kindness. And so, that’s something to think about. That’s one thing we do know is that, and you really need to think about this. It’s funny because I almost look like it goes back around, if you think about Sesame Street when we were talking about that, right? That kind of “get to know your neighbor and be nice to them.” 

Derek DeWitt: And environmentalism is – to the younger kids – it is one of the dominant topics. So yeah, this is… You know what? I’m going to just make a note, and that just might be a whole separate blog and podcast series. 

Debbie DeWitt: We need to do the research first. We’re going to say something and some sociologist is going to call us out. 

Derek DeWitt: “Generation Alpha have 17 toes and three heads.”

Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. The big thing is, in this we’ve talked about knowing different motivations that cover all groups, external and internal. Understand what people care about. And then after you get that down, just use these to brainstorm. This is just to brainstorm.

You already know what you’re trying to show on screen. So there are two ways you can do this. One is, “I already have a bunch of content. Can I make it more appealing to these people?” or “I need ideas.” Even get our guides online. You can download them for free. They’ve got a bunch of lists of ideas of things you can do and how they apply to that.

And then once you’ve got that big funnel, pare it down into what generations you’re trying to appeal to, and make sure you’re not… I mean, if you only have a screen in your lobby, you’re just going to have to mix those up on the playlist. But if you’re in a larger organization, understand where – if you can separate out – this is going to be millennials, this is going to be this. For example, people work from home.

Derek DeWitt: Daypart.

Debbie DeWitt: Yep. Millennials work from home on Fridays a lot, so don’t show those messages on Friday.

Derek DeWitt: So, I’d like to thank you, Debbie, for talking to me today. Thank you everybody for listening.