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Getting Ready for the Gen Y Wave of Membership

Youth in Business
The wave is coming. It may already be transforming your workplace and your membership. If not, get ready—because by 2015, members of Generation Y will be the majority in the work force.

Each generation has its own traits, characteristics, and preferences, and Gen Y’s—people born between 1982 and 1995—are no exception. Understanding their needs and interests will be crucial if you hope to recruit and retain them as members.

The bigger question is: What are you doing to engage every generation in your association?

Here are some of the traits to watch when you set out to build engagement across your association:

·         Baby Boomers (born in 1964 or earlier) are most likely to value the member benefits organizations have offered over the last several decades. They’re looking for discounts and face-to-face networking. They’re eager to attend conferences and events. They generally prefer standard types of communication, like hard copy newsletters and journals. They join an association because it’s the right thing to do, stay because it boosts their status with their peers, and eagerly step up to volunteer for boards and committees.

·         Members of Generation X (born from 1965 to 1981) value professional development and education to further their knowledge. They prefer peer-to-peer learning over classroom instruction, seek certification(s) to advance their careers, and expect easy access to the information they need. They’re interested in mentorship—both receiving and offering it—and they expect a return on the time they spend on committees, as well as the dollars they invest in their association membership.

·         Members of Generation Y value recognition. They seek instant gratification, results, and outcomes, expect instant access to free or inexpensive information, and want to be seen as equals with other generations. As members, they want access to leadership opportunities on boards and committees, and within their actual professions. They seek mentors, but they aren’t interested in standard mentoring formats.

Your in-house database should contain all the information you need to segment your membership and prospects by generation. (If it doesn’t, talk to us today!) Once you’ve reviewed the data and packaged your member benefits to meet different generational needs, the next step is to optimize the messaging on your website. Does it clearly convey the organization’s values and value proposition? Does it make a clear, compelling case for the generations you most need to reach? Each page should contain something that will appeal to each generation.

After that, you can go one step further and gather testimonials from your members. With the right mix of voices, you can enlist leaders in each generation to tell your story to their age peers and explain how much the association means to them, personally and professionally.