“The Millennial Generation” is often uttered with a sneer. Generalizations and misunderstandings are rife among employers, who don’t know how to appeal to this tricky breed. Are they motivated only by culture? Do they start twitching, if kept away from technology? Do they really want to work standing up?
Despite the rumors, we millennials aren’t that different from any other generation. Our environment has molded us in different ways, but our aspirations have a very familiar ring; we’re just more likely to act on our satisfaction and dissatisfaction than any other previous generation.
As millennials now make up 53.5 million people in the American workforce, it’s time you started relating to them as colleagues and friends, rather than as aliens who’ve invaded your office. Here are some truths about us that might help you understand us better:
1. We Were Raised by Baby Boomers
Millennials were largely raised by baby boomers, who were raised by the World War II generation. While the “Greatest Generation” passed on rationing and thriftiness, baby boomers handed over a vision to pursue one’s dreams without fear of failure and give back along the way.
For me, happiness is a life goal. This has nurtured my view of purposeful, work, and lifestyle. So, you can see why millennials crave meaningful careers.
2. We’re Here Because We Want to Be
While young people were once likely to constrain themselves to narrow paths to prescribed success, millennials will move if they’re unhappy. Formerly, jobs were lifetime commitments to which employees pledged loyalty in exchange for gold Rolexes and pensions. In today’s on-demand economy, both sides of that paradigm have fundamentally shifted.
Christopher Kelly is the co-founder of Convene, a company that combines service and design to improve the workplace experience.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives, and small business owners.