Millennials: Are They Really Different From Everyone Else?

Millennials get a lot of criticism. They’re entitled, lazy, easily distracted, impatient, self-absorbed, and they can’t commit, all because they’re just looking to climb up the professional ladder. But how does that separate them from other generations? Doesn’t EVERYONE want to get ahead and advance their careers?

Bruce F. Pfau of the Harvard Business Review concludes that employees of all ages ask themselves these same four questions when considering acquiring or exiting employment:

  1. Is this an organization I can be proud of?
  2. Can I maximize my performance?
  3. Are people treated well economically and interpersonally?
  4. Is the work itself fulfilling and enjoyable?

What may not be as obvious about Generation Y is that we are motivated by purpose. At Shine the Light’s May 10th session, keynote speaker Jovian Zayne said that this generation is the most purpose-driven generation currently in the workforce. She said, “To the generation of the future, a career means much more than a stable place to work for 25 years.” She’s right. Millennials not only seek job security and a fair salary, but they also seek purpose.

During their job search, millennials attempt to assess the impact the organization has on the community. They want to know how they are contributing to the greater good through their potential position. A PWC study mentioned that 55% of millennials agreed with the sentiment that diversity is highly capitalized on, but the opportunities aren’t truly equal for everyone. It is important to note that Generation Y is the most ethnically and racially diverse generation today. It has the most individuals who come from single-parent homes, blended families, and same-sex parent families than ever before. It is also the most educated and socially conscious, and expects the same from employers. In short, diversity is important to millennials, and its absence in organization’s culture will easily turn potential employees away.

For millennials, work is not just about getting paid, it’s also about personal enrichment and fulfillment. They never stop learning and growing. According to the same study by PWC, 52% of interviewees said opportunities for career progression and development make for an attractive workplace. Jessica Brack and Kip Kelly of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School say that millennials place high value on training and development because they are always looking to acquire new skills and abilities. Isn’t it interesting how the most educated generation in the world is still looking for learning and growth opportunities after earning extremely expensive degrees? Not only does educating and developing millennials benefit them, but it also benefits you and your organization. To be a forward-thinking organization, millennials must be embraced, and to embrace is to develop.

Millennials are the future. Members of Generation Y outnumber the number of Gen Xers, which means that millennials will acquire executive positions quicker than their predecessors. In essence, they’re just like you, but under a lot of pressure. So, treat them as such. Embrace them. Coach them. Train them.

Shine the Light’s session on September 27th, “Accelerating Organizational Effectiveness With an Increasingly Diverse Team” will focus on the importance of staff development and embracing diversity. For more information and registration, click here! We hope to see you there!

Maximizing Millennials in the Workplace, Jessica Brack and Kip Kelly, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School 

What Do Millennials Really Want at Work? The Same Things the Rest of Us Do, Bruce N. Pfau, Harvard Business Review 

Why Millennials Matter

PWC Study

Blake Stafford


Blake Stafford, DNA Creative Communications

Posted August 02, 2016 in: Blog by Debbie Nelson

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