How Millennials are Redefining the Workplace

I recently wrote about how millennials are not connecting with religion the same way that our parents or even grandparents do. Might I propose, that the same is true when it comes to work.

How they view work and industry versus how previous generations do is changing. For the longest, I use to believe that if I got a good education, by going into an insurmountable amount of debt at an institution that only cared about me after I graduated, and went to work for someone for the better half of my life, then I would achieve the moderately sized house, 2.5 kids, the dog, and two cars.

And while I still believe in the American Dream the details of that dream are changing. For many millennials, committing 52 weeks a year, and 40 hours a week, to a job they hate for an outcome that is no longer satiating is not their recipe for success.

More and more millennials are taking the lower paying job that they enjoy going to every day, minimizing their lifestyle, investing into tiny homes, and starting their own businesses. Every day they are redefining the American dream for themselves.

The challenge is, employers are not properly equipped to handle such changes.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tells us that people are motivated by specific needs in their life. Those needs include: Basic needs (food, water, shelter, safety), Psychological needs (belongingness and accomplishment), and Self-fulfillment needs (self-actualization, the fulfillment of one’s potential).  

Unlike their parents and grandparents, millennials have been afforded the opportunity to live in a mental space that does not require them to focus most of their mental capacity on what they will eat, what they will wear, where they will live or how they will provide for themselves.

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Previous generations lived through life events that did not necessarily allow for them to self-actualize in the same way millennials can. For Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, self-actualizing for them more commonly looked like being a good provider for their kids, creating a career for themselves at one place of employment, and or buying a home for the family.

In other words, a good portion of people in previous generations never left the first three levels of Maslow’s pyramid, and instead, co-opted the last two levels to fit into the first three.

In the case of millennials however, this generation is more likely to live at home after graduating college, more likely to stay single longer, and less likely to have kids. This means, that since they are used to there always being a full fridge, a home to come home to, all of their time to themselves, and no one dependent on them for survival, they can focus more of their mental capacity on the last two levels of the pyramid as opposed to the first three.

Work is Not Working

work, employment, maslow, satisfaction
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21% of millennials job hop within a year, this is three times more than other generations; and 6 in 10 identify as open to new opportunities. In fact, most millennials do not see themselves as retiring with their current employer.

We are also the least engaged generation. 55% of millennials are not engaged at their workplace meaning, that they feel uninspired, unmotivated, and emotionally disconnected from their jobs. This statistic eclipses the national average.

Millennials require more from their work environment. 59% deem learning opportunities and room for growth a workplace essential. 58% need a “high-quality manager”, and 50% need tangible career advancement opportunities.

During my bout with unemployment, every job I worked lacked at least one of the aforementioned. Even my most recent role was only able to scratch the surface. This is why 62% of millennials are interested in starting their own business, are more likely to do so earlier than previous generations and are happier for it.

And while starting a business is not in the cards for every millennial the reason behind why we do so/change employers so frequently is the same, we need to self-actualize.

How to meet the professional needs of Millennials

With a new generation comes new needs. Millennials are far more preoccupied with social engagement, traveling, and their overall mental health, than they are with money. Conversely, they are also very concerned about their career prospects.

We are fulfilled when we do the things that fulfill us.

For Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, there is a positive correlation between a sense of fulfillment and a met obligation. In addition to millennials not having as many hardline obligations, they also have more tools at their disposal to get things accomplished. A millennial being able to complete just about any task is a lot easier and therefore not as fulfilling as accomplishing a task that relates to something they value.

Employers must start accommodating the needs of their younger employees. Money alone is not getting us up out of the bed bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to be the best employee ever.

Give us purpose and we will give you profit.

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