There is no national observation to celebrate generational differences. No holiday, week or month that brings awareness to the ways generations are different but share similarities as life experiences evolve. No structured opportunity to share the ways we can use generational diversity to our advantage, while highlighting the challenges that come with it.
So the Millennial employee resource group at Cigna created their own. For the second year in a row, the ERG has used its “Millennial Mondays” platform to celebrate the topics its bloggers and audience find important to honor one more year of existence.
Millennial Mondays is a blog series started in February 2013 as an opportunity to better utilize an internal blogging space – a platform the youngest working generation both grew up with and is most familiar. When the blog first started, using the internal blog platform was new for the ages-old insurance company and industry. So much so, the weekly series would often make the top 10 list on the intranet’s front page for weeks at a time. The blogs’ diligence is credited with improving comfort and encouraging others to use the platform to interact with colleagues. And the “children shall lead them,” so to speak.
As the blog has persisted to celebrate a fourth anniversary, it has grown to be an expected staple. Long term writers are recognized around the water cooler, receive emails about their blogs for those too shy to share comments on the public posts and most importantly get recognition for moving the agenda forward to help others think about generational diversity in a different way. The greatest success has been a growing list of revolving bloggers. Most recently, one employee wrote a cover letter as an application to join the blog team, even though there is no formal process to sign up. The writing leaders review new writers’ early posts for flow, content and comfort; but there certainly is not an audition. However, this colleague’s sentiment to share credentials in order to join the team is an example of the credibility writing with this group now carries. Many contributors have also progressed in their careers over the course of writing for MM as it is commonly referred; not because it contributes to their work performance or earns them special opportunities, but provides greater visibility, improves confidence and creates a platform to engage with colleagues they would not otherwise. Those relationships are not taken for granted.
The series itself has come a long way. Ironically, Millennials trying to prove legitimacy was the primary goal in the early years. Statements like: “Millennials aren’t that different;” “I don’t get the point;” and “They think they’re special;” were all ways colleagues questioned the ERG and blog series’ existence. The team remained diligent and primarily used news articles to support their points; much like researchers. The editor managed the posts like a newsroom. Until, an editor change led to more personal posts. The shift saw a tremendous change in readership and commentary. They learned that the more personal posts were relatable and invited other generations to participate from their own lens. While readers still see content that challenges generational views and interactions, it is now done with more storytelling, anecdotes and empathy. The process is analogous to major publications transitioning for readers to pay for online content when printed sales dived; switch up the approach, add a catchy headline and sprinkle some sugar in the message. MM further attracted readers by meeting with them in real life through volunteer opportunities in collaboration with Cigna’s early career leadership programs, which created a down-to-earth flair. The team learned to be entrepreneurial and creative to get more “clicks and comments.” Last year to celebrate the third anniversary, a special series culminated in “front page news” on the intranet to honor the dedication of bloggers who are such young professionals, Millennial Mondays has been a constant pillar of their entire careers.
This year, the celebration is a month long. The most seasoned posters are taking on the same topics weekly to show diverse perspectives within the Millennial generation with daily instead of weekly posts – a Millennial recognition month all their own. Now half way through the “January Takeover” and two prompts down, colleagues across the world are engaged and look forward to seeing their favorites more frequently – evidenced by the personal email follow-ups in inboxes. To top off this month long celebration, senior leaders will capstone the fourth anniversary celebration with their own early career stories – giving validity and aspiration to early career professionals like the ones who write and the countless ones who do not, but identify from their cubicles around the world. As I approach my fifth anniversary with Cigna and the original founder of Millennial Mondays, I’m proud to celebrate the fourth anniversary of Cigna’s self-created generational celebration. Can’t wait to see what the milestone fifth anniversary will bring.