I’ve been reading a lot recently about how unique the Millennials are in the workforce. Articles talk about how they’re different from the rest of us. I challenge that hypothesis. When I compare the list of so-called differences, I find it’s very consistent with the needs and desires of most people in the workforce, with a few exceptions. Here is a list of Millennial “differences”:
- Their first job is unsatisfying or disappointing
- Their full potential isn’t being utilized
- Expanding experiences are the drivers, not money
- Saving for retirement or creating a nest egg isn’t a high priority
- They want to do something inspiring and feel passionate about their work
- It’s important to have the freedom of action to contribute at a higher level
- They want transparency and feedback on performance
- Millennials say they need a clear vision for the future from upper management
- They want strong leaders who can articulate direction and meaningful goals
- They want to be empowered to attain results
These are the same comments I hear from employees all over the country at all ages looking to improve their careers or to contribute at a higher level. Nothing seems to be that different.
So what are the differences between Millennials and the rest of us? Here are a few that I see:
- Millennials have a much larger debt load coming out of college: Loans of $30,000 or more
- Due to their financial uncertainty, they tend to be risk averse. It’s hard to take a risk for another higher paying job when you’re not sure of the outcome, and still have loans due.
- It’s easier and safer to stay with the job you have, where you’re known, with security, even if it doesn’t give you great satisfaction
- This dichotomy of risk aversion versus a lack of satisfaction causes painful frustration
- Some Millennials give up, feel like a victim and lean on mom and dad for extended support
Why don’t Millennials follow a career consistent with their college degree? Like most students:
- High school seniors usually have no idea what career to follow, have an idealized view or can’t understand what reality is like:
- Lawyers who want to “save the world” then find out how the world really works
- Journalism majors who want to be another “Bernstein and Woodward” only to find out they’re writing obituaries with no chance of moving up.
- Many graduates aren’t prepared for the technological revolution all around them
- Millennials may not find the job of their choice at first, so they accept the job that is available. Then find it’s very hard to segue into the jobs they want.
It’s management’s job to create an environment to optimize the talent in their organizations. Those that don’t risk losing quality employees or diminish the results they might have had.
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