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Sitting outside a strip mall at Starbucks, I overhear two people who work at the store next door complaining about the Pokémon Go frenzy. The owner of the shop talked about being at an outdoor concert watching “stupid grown men” trying to catch one. As I threw my trash away, I shook my head. Some people just don’t get it.

Research shows that Millennials would rather stay in than go out. Growing up, they played online games, got homeschooled, and Gameboy was their best friend. Getting to know the neighbors and playing outside until the streetlights came on became a thing of the past.   As a result, many of them missed out on some very basic communication and connection skills.

Millennials already make up 60% of the workforce; by 2025; Millennials will make up 75%. Pokémon Go should be seen as a tool instead of a bother.   Let’s be honest, we have raised a group of socially awkward employees that lack basic communication skills. And it’s not their fault. They are part of the  “instant gratification, everybody gets a trophy, and I’d rather text than talk” generation.   Most of their phone etiquette, face-to-face interaction, and conflict resolution skills are a joke.  They don’t engage at social functions, many would rather “watch Netflix and chill”; go to any restaurant and your guaranteed to see groups of them with their heads buried in a screen. Their ability to connect and create lasting relationships is significantly handicapped. These characteristics translate into the workforce as lazy, unmotivated, and unproductive.

Pokémon Go has changed the game for them and for us.   This interactive mobile app has created a social environment Millennials can get behind. Now Millennials have a common ground and safe space to meet. They have a reason to plan a get-together, and ultimately they are creating connections and when they catch one their interaction directly builds social skills. Just like their socially dysfunctional behavior translates negatively into the office, these unintended skill-building exercises will translate positively at work.

Instead of looking at Pokémon Go as a ridiculous fad or judging the people who play it as stupid, consider instead the tremendous opportunity.  Pokémon Go might be the first interactive app, but it won’t be the last. Hopefully the Millennials among us who aren’t playing will find one they will play so maybe we can move from a world of technological disconnection to one of interpersonal connection.

Would love to hear from you, are you a Millennial who plays Pokémon Go? Why or why not?

Seanlai is The Retention Experts and is an internationally known speaker, author, coach and consultant. She is the global expert on connection and founder of Proclivities: The Science of Connection. Seanlai works with companies and individuals seeking to strengthen leadership, retain talent, increase sales, and increase profitability. Her new book, The Mysterious Power will be available in stores soon. Connect directly with Seanlai at Seanlai@theretentionexperts.com or via twitter https://twitter.com/SeanlaiC

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