Evan Spiegel, millennial and CEO of Snap Inc famously noted of his generation, “We do have a sense of entitlement, a sense of ownership, because after all, this is the world we were born into, and we are responsible for It.”
Millennials have long suffered from negative press, with older generations claiming their younger counterparts to be lazy, entitled, and even disloyal. But as more millennials enter the workforce, and become leaders, they are challenging the status quo and redefining their place in the world. It’s time for employers to catch up.
Millennials redefine productivity.
Consider the culture in which millennials grew up. Most millennials came of age with the advent of the internet, continually learning new methods of communication and process. Change is within their comfort zone so outdated and rigid work environments are a real source of frustration. However, their frustration is not rooted in entitlement but in an honest desire to improve upon the current process, and these improvements are redefining productivity. For older generations, they believed that putting in structured time meant productive work coming out. Yet, putting in the time and achieving goals are separate actions of themselves, and millennials have embraced this concept. Millennials, therefore, focus on doing what is needed to best achieve a work goal, which can include with it greater flexibility in work environment, hours, and location.
Millennials respond to the current job market.
Yet another fallacy regarding the millennial generation is their perceived lack of hard work. Facts state otherwise. 54% of millennials said that if money wasn’t a concern they still would not quit their jobs (this at a higher percentage than Gen X and baby boomers). Millennials prefer a steady, full-time job and care more about working for a company they believe in than they do making money.
Unlike the baby boomers, millennials have had a much harder time joining the workplace as the job market is the most competitive it has ever been. Additionally, many jobs formerly labeled as “starter” jobs which functioned as millennials’ introduction into the workplace are moving into the realm of automation. A recent study by the Harvard Business Review states that millennials are 5% more likely to forfeit their unused vacation days than any other group due to fear of termination. This fear drives millennials to put their nose to the grindstone and take on a near-martyr approach to their work in efforts to show complete dedication to both their job and the company.
Millennials are purpose-driven.
Rising through the ranks at one organization with a focus on a singular skill set is quickly becoming a career path of the past. Millennials understand this and use their jumps from employer to employer to their advantage. At each organization, they take on new roles that diversify their experience, expand their network, and position them as future leaders.
Further, millennials operate from a different set of core principles and values than previous generations. They grew up during a global recession and had a front seat to the world’s problems with the explosion of mass media. For millennials, their job is more than a 9–5. It is a way for them to be a part of something bigger, to positively impact their local community and even the world. They are so driven by this need to impact cultural change that a large majority take their future into their own hands and create their own businesses.
Millennials are the future of the workforce.
No matter the cultural stigmas, millennials represent the largest generation in the U.S. labor force at 35%. For companies to be successful at building an inclusive culture, organizational leaders need to reconsider their millennial bias or else these rifts will continue to negatively affect companies from attracting top talent.
Companies like Google, Microsoft, and IBM are winning the race for top talent by weaving relevant learning and development opportunities into every stage of employee life cycles. They are also infusing purpose into these development opportunities to ensure that employees are aware that the work they do on a daily basis has a positive social impact. And, they are maintaining millennial motivation by prioritizing professional development and presenting new projects to millennial employees that develop new and unique skill sets.
Simply put, the companies that foster a culture with a specific purpose and allow for opportunities to learn new skills within a healthy work-life balance will be more attractive to top-tier millennial talent.