It’s tough being a millennial today, mostly because the previous generations have some rather unpleasant opinions of us. If you think I’m exaggerating, sample this – a millennial collage made of the craziest things media outlets have accused the generation of killing, including marmalade, gyms and McDonalds!
We can take that on the chin (who needs marmalade anyway?), but it’s not a picnic when we’re labelled as too narcissistic and entitled to contribute effectively to the workforce. Most of the millennials I grew up with are ambitious, driven and never afraid to question the status quo, so where are these generalizations even coming from?
It would be a win-win for everyone if employers tried to understand our attitude towards work, and how to accommodate it to ultimately increase productivity and foster a healthy work culture.
So what do Millennials really want?
That’s a question without a single right answer, but we can narrow down at least some basic principles that guide our approach in the workplace.
1. Sense Of Purpose
The most important thing to understand about us is our strong need for a sense of purpose. It might sound idealistic, but we want our work to be meaningful to society, and we often use it to make sense of the world and find our place in it. It’s the driving force behind the trend of job hopping, something which is grossly misunderstood by previous generations as some need for instant gratification, or an inability to stick it out through difficult situations.
We’ve all had grandfathers who brag about having worked in a single company all their life, or relatives who encourage you to get a government job because you’ll be “set for life.” However, we just want our work to reflect who we are and we aren’t afraid of trying different jobs until we find one that fits.
2. Driven By Conviction
Being driven by conviction is also why we thrive in the start-up culture that we’ve pioneered. Start-ups require a lot more mental and emotional investment than a run-of-the-mill corporate 9 to 5 job. After working at several start-ups, all of which have been well-acquainted with funding problems throughout, I realized that they demand dedication, flexibility, and a commitment to your product rather than just making great money. Something that most of us are happy to offer.
Our need for a feedback loop to be in place is seen as a cry for constant validation. In all my previous jobs, I have always felt the need for well-laid out objectives and methods at the start of a new project, frequent status reports, and an approachable boss with the patience to give me feedback at every stage of my assignment. It saves a lot of time and helps new employees learn on the job and understand the reasons behind why certain methods might not fit well with the assignment’s objectives.
If we ask too many questions, please don’t perceive us as know-it-alls; it’s simply our way of getting a thorough read on what is expected of us, and how to go about it.
Calling us the “me me me generation”, entitled, disrespectful or anything else that does our passion and drive a disservice is the easy way out. The solution isn’t to try desperately to bridge the generation gap, either. It’s simply understanding the fact that this new generation comes with its own traits and if you can turn those into assets and bring out the best in us, you’ve got yourself a winning formula.
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