Although I may be an older Millennial – yes, I do actually remember the days before social media and selfies – I certainly experienced much of the pain that younger Millennials feel today around their careers. There are so many (loud) opinions out there about why Millennials have got it wrong like this one by Simon Sinek (who I highly respect but in this case respectfully disagree with – I certainly didn’t have helicopter parents nor get trophies for coming in second place, darling!). Most of the older generations’ opinion is that Millennials need to toughen up and learn to adapt to the world and corporate life. But I believe our unease, frustration and job-hopping should be understood and embraced. History teaches us that change only comes when the status quo is challenged and well, looking at the state of the world today, massive change is needed.
But before a new direction is found, the wheel needs to be stopped, and this is exactly what most Millenials of today are doing. We may not yet have found that new direction, but we’ve dug our heels in and said “enough” to being instituitionalised. We’re not unsuccessful, we’re brave.
Here are three things I want our employers (and parents) to know:
- Meaning is our key driver
We aren’t motivated by the same things our parents and grandparents were. We value experience over security. We want to know that our years (working hard) at school and university will translate into more than shareholder value. We don’t expect you to give us a purpose but we need to know that the work we do in the world ties into our value system. If it doesn’t, we’ll move on. This may make us appear confused or fickle but in the pursuit of meaning, it’s sanity. What may look like confusion now will birth new ways of working and being in the world in the future. We cannot find solutions to problems when we approach them from the same mindset that created them in the first place.
- Flexibility is important
We value time over money. I’d rather have more leave days or less time in the office than cash in my bank account. Stop clock watching me. I get my work done, and then I want to live my life. You may view this as me wanting to not do the ‘hard yards’ in order to move up the ranks. But maybe we are perfectly happy being where we’re at. Life is fast, virtual and changing. We need you to adapt because whether you want to or not, we are the next generation of leaders that will be taking your corner office when you retire.
- Don’t expect loyalty
We aren’t going to stick with our bank, or mobile service provider, or employer based on past loyalty. We are driven by value (see point 1) and will change as often as needed in order to find connection. Creating a gimmicky social media campaign or ‘fun’ canteen environment isn’t going to sway us either. That’s another example of trying to fix a problem with the same mindset that created it. It’s simple: create value, be conscious, we’ll come. To illustrate how far we go: I spend more than double on my facial toner than a leading luxury ‘big brand’ because I want to support local business owners, organic produce and conscious companies. This is regardless of celebrity endorsements and other gimmicks. We see right though it.
Millennials are the leaders of tomorrow. Yes, there are certain realities to the world we need to be aware of and hard work is one of those. We know that. But for all the older folk (looking at you Sinek) who believe we need to follow in their footsteps, drink the Kool-aid, and “do our time”, sorry. We may not yet have any answers but the first step to change is stopping the behaviour that started it. The organisations of tomorrow (and they do exist!) are the ones that are willing to embrace this new way of being.
After a decade of scream worthy frustration in corporate, I stopped and took some time out to get clear on my ‘why’. I’m passionate about helping individuals and organisations to embrace change and find inner connection. If you want to read more, you can sign up for my blog here. I’d love to hear your thoughts on working life as a Millennial.