I am a millennial. I am a millennial who is tired of seeing all of this hullabaloo about my generation sweeping the internet and blogs and the like. What I specifically cannot read anymore about, are all of the articles about millennials in the workplace. We received a bad reputation in this arena because we decided to not just follow in the footsteps of previous generations, which in turn made those other generations want to write about us. So, I will present some common stereotypes about millennials and use the recent Virgin Pulse survey, “Misunderstood Millennials: How the Newest Workforce is Evolving Business” to give some insight into the millennial mindset and why companies should recognize and consider adopting our mindset and implementing it in the workplace.
“Millennials value things other than money.”
More Accurately: MONEY ISN’T EVERYTHING.
First of all, I want to say that millennials are some of the most fiscally concerned people I have ever met. I know people whose student loans are a larger sum of money than they’d ever expect to make. And, no one my age has any idea when they will have the capital necessary to buy a house. We have come to terms with our financial strain and we don’t really want to fixate on it, we’d prefer to move on. So while money is a big factor in our thought processes, it’s not the end all be all for a job. But, yes, we think about other things than just money when considering a job. “Shared values and collaborative environments that support an organization’s mission – and the problems it’s trying to solve – are fundamental to great [work] cultures. And Millennials agree. They seek meaningful work and want to understand, and align with, their organization’s mission – something 73 percent of those surveyed said was important or very important” (4). When you join a company, you become a part of something that is bigger than yourself. Millennials want to ensure that they align with that “bigger-thing” so that they can best represent the company while remaining in their own shoes. One of those “bigger-things” that companies can provide is growth or self-improvement services. Growing up in a time period of huge growth (remember when the internet became a thing… yeah, that was nuts) has had a tremendous impact on how we approach life and business. It showed us that anything is possible if we continue to move forward and work together in order to progress together. “28 percent of Millennials don’t think their skill-sets are being fully put to use in their current workplace” (6) so why don’t we all engage in a skill building opportunity, and put those skills to the test. I’m happy to say I work at a company that encourages and provides services for me and my fellow employees to continue to grow. These services have had a tremendous improvement on my work and my life in general. At the end of the day, no matter what you have in your pocket, you’re still the same person. Again, money isn’t everything.
“The millennials’ work style is a lot different from ours.”
More Accurately: Work is a piece of the pie that makes up your life.
Work is where we spend most of our life, and life doesn’t just stop when we are working. Turns out, while we’re working, we are also working on ourselves so that we can do better work. Because when an employee does good work, the company does good work. We are all in this together… and that’s not a millennial thought process, that’s just the truth. In the Virgin Pulse survey, there were “26 percent of respondents wanting career advancement training and 21 percent looking to learn skills directly related to their job function” which adds to the reasoning as to why company culture should provide such services for its employees to grow. Company culture is the driving force behind the pursuit of producing good work. Good employees = good work = good company = growth of the company. You can’t change the work, without changing the person who does the work. The work we all produce not only sustains our livelihood, but is also a part of our identity and therefore becomes “meaningful work” to all of us. Everyone gets hung up on that phrase “meaningful work” in relation to millennial ideals. Yes, many millennials want to work for a non-profit and do “meaningful work” that way, but, personally, my work is meaningful to me because I give a damn about it. It is a piece of the pie that I dig into every day called my life. I want to improve my work as I want to improve my overall wellbeing. All of this improving just makes for a better pie!
“Millennials don’t care.”
More Accurately: Millennials are terrified of failure.
Virgin Pulse reports “93% agree it’s okay to be connected to work in off-hours in some capacity, 40% [myself included] feel guilty taking time off of work, 34% work every day of vacation, 39% are more stressed than last year.” I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I’m thinking that those statistics do not describe a generation who doesn’t care. In reality, millennials want to succeed and thrive and grow in the workplace just like everyone else. I took a day off the other day and, quite frankly, regretted it when I returned. It took me two-three days to realize that it was okay that I took off. While us millennials take pride in our work, and ourselves, it’s difficult for some millennials to recognize an accomplishment or take a breather. Which is probably why in the conclusion of the Virgin Pulse survey it says, “Take care of the Millennials in your workforce – and your Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers, too – by offering tools, resources, and programs that help them form healthy habits across all areas of well-being” (12). When we do believe we’ve done a good job or accomplished something huge, we’re going to post about it on social media so that everyone can share in our accomplishment. Millennials do all that they can to the best of their abilities to get the job done and done right. But the main reason we’re scared of failure, is because while we grew up in the technology boom, we also grew up in a recession. We know there are serious consequences and hardships to be had, if we don’t buckle our seatbelts. Just like everyone else, we are just trying to live a life we are proud of… and eat a piece of pie as well.
As you can tell, the everyday millennial is just trying to do the best they can, just the same as everyone else. We may work differently than you, but that doesn’t mean we’re wrong. We take immense pride in what we put our time and energy into, especially our work. Hence, why money isn’t everything. We truly believe that further improving yourself leads to better results not only for you, but for everyone.
Guest Contributor Kelsey McManimon,
GRAPHIC DESIGNER, JEAN PETERSON DESIGN