To Millennial Employers: We'll Work For You If You Work For Us
You are born, and in being born, you should also be free. In being free, you should have the choice to pursue happiness, however you define that.
We Millennials are very fortunate to have been born when we were. Every generation can only be as great as the legacy of those before them.
The post-Great Depression traditionalists grew up during a difficult period when stability became the main commodity.
The Baby Boomers fought through their own generational challenges. The Boomers grew up as the US was shifting from a goods economy to a service economy.
Up until that point, “Work hard, keep your head down, and you’ll be able to provide for you family” had proven to be true.
Today, Millennials are positioned to benefit from the sacrifices that our parents, grandparents and great grandparents made.
The Boomers and Gen-X have helped usher in the dawn of the modern economy. They lived through the Civil Rights Movement, the advent of space exploration and multiple waves of immigrants from all around the world.
They also invented the building blocks for the technology boom we’re currently experiencing. We Millennials have big shoes to fill, and I’m astounded and honored by the progress we’re making in our quest to pay tribute.
Unfortunately, there are complaints about how we feel entitled, complaints about how we are lazy and complaints that we’ve never had to struggle for anything. We're also apparently self-centered and unmotivated.
Millennials can learn a lot from Gen-X, the Boomers and, yes, the Traditionalists. In fact, we have; we were raised by you. Our values were instilled by you. Our work ethic was learned from you.
Many of you who manage Millennials at your office also manage Millennial kids at home. I often hear parents of Millennials rave about the freedom they've provided their children to explore whom they want to be.
Yet, I've heard complaints from those same parents about how Millennials in their office don't have the work ethic necessary to be successful.
I would argue that those Millennials who are perceived to be lacking work ethic are not actually lacking it.
Rather, the extrinsic motivation (money, prestige, family pressure) has run out and their intrinsic motivations aren't sufficiently filled by their current job in order for them to want to use their intellectual capital.
Until now, Millennials have often let themselves get carried away by the value that previous generations have placed on extrinsic motivations.
As we become more comfortable with ourselves, we will also become more comfortable with aligning our personal and professional aspirations with our intrinsic motivations.
Making money isn’t bad. In fact, most of us Millennials want to make money. Though we may not be executives (yet), we have executive-like ambitions.
We dream big, but our daydreaming gets confused with being aloof. We want more responsibility, yet in many offices, we’re told to do less.
We’re told we can grow up to be anything we want to be, but when it comes time to choose, we’re told we’re too entitled. We were brought up to be independent, and to have the ability to make choices and when we choose to be happy, we’re told we haven’t earned it.
In many ways, Millennials aren’t prepared. A McKinsey study reports that employers find that the new hires coming into their companies have not been adequately prepared to tackle the responsibilities of the job, and I agree.
There are trainings, apprenticeships and rubrics that need to be developed to prepare the future of our society to perform better out of college.
We must also resist the stigma that college is for everyone, and we must be proud of kids who want to become carpenters, mechanics, electricians or plumbers. For those who do choose to pursue a college career, they should get a better return on their investment.
We must also shift the conversation that employers are having about recruiting top talent to a conversation about recruiting the best top talent that aligns with their organizational culture, values and goals.
Employers should be looking to optimize productivity from their employees by making sure they are picking candidates who are the most likely to be engaged with the work.
Long gone should be the days when employers settle for recruiting the top three students of a graduating class only to overwork them for two years and then have to find their replacement.
Millennials want to learn, and we love having mentors. We respect the success that you’ve had, but we don’t believe there’s only one path to achieve that success and that doesn’t make us lazy or bad or unproductive people.
We want to know you are willing to accept the fact that just like we can learn from you, you can learn from us. We are collaborators; we want more responsibility, not less. We are redefining what it means to be productive.
Currently you’re awarding the promotions to that person at the office who sends both the first and the last email of the day (6 am and 11:59 pm, respectively). You're giving a raise to the managers who accrue all their vacation but never take it; you value the office warrior above productivity.
In other words, you are placing more value on perceived productivity rather than measured productivity (output per total hours worked vs. output per hour worked).
Today, workers in Turkey, Estonia, South Korea, Chile and seven other countries are beating US workers in the rate that each hour worked contributes to the overall growth of a country’s economy.
We will work hard -- harder than anyone -- when we feel like useful, contributing members of an organization. But I’m going to go to yoga at 6, you will never reach me while my out-of-office notification is on, I will sleep in if I worked till 3 am, and I will never, ever lose a vacation day.
We value “me,” and if you value “us,” we’ll work with “you.”
Photo Courtesy: Studiomates