Millennials: They Want Engagement, Not Entitlement

October 8, 2015 | Uncategorized

Photo by Ted Eytan on Flickr

Without completely giving my age away, let’s just say that I am slightly removed from the Millennial generation. That is to say, I am at the tail end of Generation X. Given the fact that most of my friendships and professional relationships are with Gen Xer’s, I have not had a lot of direct experience with Millennials as it pertains to their professional lives. The complaint I hear from just about everyone including clients is that they have an entitlement problem. They want the top job and top money but don’t want to work for it.

However, after meeting some very bright members of the Millennial generation, I have found that this generation also has its share of committed employees. The key though is how they are approached. I recall one Millennial that I got to know through some mutual business interests. She was only a year or two out of college at the time and helping a start-up get off the ground. The company grew leaps and bounds which I believe a lot was through the owner’s vision but also her commitment to this vision as well as her appetite for learning and her superb work ethic. The owner was there for her as a mentor. He landed a great employee; she landed great experience. However, the owner began to be there less and less and the vision changed. He made business moves that fell outside of the company’s original vision and did so without discussing them with her. He also began to value her less basically reducing her to a drone. Let me make it clear. Yes, he had the right to do all of these things. He was the owner. However, he also lost his star employee; the one that would walk through walls for the organization. The company has still not recovered.

Millennials will account for 46% of the workforce by the year 2020 according to the Society for Human Resource Management (source). Organizations that want to survive cannot ignore this statistic. It is imperative that they adjust their organization and more importantly their culture to maximize the strengths of this generation.

Here are some other statistics:

  • 74% of Millennials surveyed said confidence in their leadership was a key driver of engagement.(source)
  • 84% of Millennials say making a difference in the world is more important than professional recognition.(source)
  • 92% believe that business success should be measured by more than profit.(source)
  • 80% of Gen Y said they prefer on-the-spot recognition over formal reviews, and feel that this is imperative for their growth and understanding of a job.(source)
  • 72% of Gen Y employees entering the workforce want to make a direct social and environmental impact. (source)
  • 75% of Gen Y employees want mentors. (source)

These should further encourage organizations to embrace the human element; leadership, culture, engagement, and trust. I would assert that generations before the Millennials also craved engagement, a positive culture, and strong leadership. Their tolerance for not having these items in their work environment was much higher than the Millennial generation. What are some ways that Millennials and all employees for that matter can be engaged at your organizations?


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