So, Millennials are passing up deals like the one I reluctantly accepted and quickly jettisoned? Crazy. How could they? What is the world coming to?
The rules have changed, and they will keep changing. The days of the whole lifetime employment thing (you know, the pact that America’s finest companies struck with the Baby Boomers) are over — long over. We left them back in the 80s with big hair metal bands and neon spandex-filled exercise VHS tapes.
The Millennials want a different deal and they are going to get it. If you are managing Millennials and want to complain and reminisce, that’s your right. If you want to be solution-oriented, it’s time to turn the lens inward.
Millennials aren’t entitled. They are empowered, and more so than any other generation before them. They want more out of life than you ever did, and they will get a lot of what they are seeking. That doesn’t make them better or worse, it just means that life is different now. We are growing and evolving. Why should Millennials work as hard as we did? No, scratch that. Why should Millennials work as hard as we did for an empty promise when they have the capability to get exactly what they want?
Millennials have infinitely more opportunities than previous generations entering the workplace. We are getting more mobile, more virtual and the playing field is leveling between large, established companies and upstarts (As an aside, the companies, always resistant to change and playing every card they have in their hand, are pushing back in all sorts of ways. One of those ways is by championing the seemingly pro-worker cause to require that companies classify more workers as employees rather than independent contractors. I believe that workers should instead fight for their right to freelance
That does not mean every Millennial will launch their own company. The vast majority are looking for jobs. Jobs that stretch and inspire them. The fact that they have access to so many jobs cuts both ways. The pool of talent employers can pull from today is much wider and deeper than it was a generation ago.
Millennials reject the notion of “face time” as a means of success. They expect assignments, regular feedback and rewards for their efforts. They also want some semblance of work-life balance. They appear to fully grasp what my generation acknowledged only through lip service — life is too short to spend it all working. They expect that when the time comes to start having families, they will be able to be active and engaged parents, which means having the time to be able to do so. They realize that we have been getting wealthier and wealthier as a society, while happiness with our lifestyle and work-life balance lags behind.
With that said, Millenials desire more than just money, material goods, and time off. More than any previous generation, they are in searching of meaning in their work. The likelihood of a Millennial staying in a work environment in which they are not shown the bigger picture or the opportunities that lie ahead for them are slim. While not every job lends itself to interaction with the C-Suite and a straight upward linear path of increasing responsibility, every job can be made more interesting.
The Millennials’ expectations for an ideal working environment actually translate into the fundamentals of a better workplace for all of us. An organization that carefully trains all of its employees, sets clear goals and expectations, and provides regular feedback to ensure that individuals learn with each assignment is a model for success. That company is better positioned to compete in an increasingly competitive global market. There are 75.3 million Millennials currently in the U.S. workforce. That means there are 75.3 million unique personalities. And, yes, some of them are entitled; some of them are lazy; and many of them are possessed by the delusion and brashness of youth (no different than any generation prior). But, broadly speaking, they are empowered, ready to work and anxious to make a real impact on our world. The 75.3 million unique attitudes and approaches they are bringing to the table are the future. That’s how this story goes. You can’t ignore them. And, complaining about them does nothing. It’s time to stretch ourselves, change and evolve. The “good new days” are just ahead.