Recently, I read an article that tagged Millennials as a self-entitled group raised during prosperous economic times by their Baby Boomer parents. The author went on to paint a picture that Generation Y, in the workplace, don’t want to pay their dues and are only concerned about higher pay and more time off. The article turned me off because I feel the author missed the mark. It was shallow thinking at it’s finest. Either the author doesn’t really get it or he didn’t do his homework. Nevertheless, it was a shame the article was published.
So, this is my attempt to set the record straight. To start, let’s look at a brief overview of the most recent generations.
According to Generational Theory*, Generation Y will be the next “hero” generation. Similar to past generations that grew up during a crisis, they will emerge as energetic, team-oriented optimist that are aggressive advocates of technological progress with a focus on social harmony.
Yes, they are more eager to contribute and take responsibility earlier in their careers than prior generations. This attitude should not be misinterpreted. This group is charged to make a difference in the world - today. While they are confident in their ability (and rightly so), they understand they can learn from the more experienced workforce. In fact, they respect the older generations so much that having the ability to be mentored by senior executives or leaders in the workplace is attractive. In a recent study*, 75% of the millennials believe their organization could do more to develop future leaders with mentoring programs. To meet this need, many employers have implemented such mentorships and are leveraging it as a means to recruit and retain Gen Y career seekers.
Gen Yers are driven by opportunities. They seek new chances to enhance their career over a higher paying, secure job. They are driven to work for organizations that support innovation. 78% reported they are influenced by how innovative a company is when deciding if they want to work there. Most feel their current organization doesn’t encourage creative thinking and a perceived major barrier to this is management’s attitude.
So what does this mean? They are not motivated by money. They want to work in a collaborative environment where they have a voice, and innovation is at the heart of the company. Currently, there is approximately 80 million Gen Yers in the US. The workforce landscape is going to change dramatically in the next 5-10 years. I’m excited for this generation’s increasing role and believe they will force company’s to think differently – to embrace creative thinking and innovation. If organizations don’t evolve – they will quickly become irrelevant.
US Workforce Population: http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/generations-workplace-united-states-canada#footnote31_mdj1jy0
Generational Theory: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss%E2%80%93Howe_generational_theory
Millennial study: http://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/2014-millennial-survey-positive-impact.htm