The reason millennials focus so much on purpose, self-fulfillment through learning, and family before the money is because the generation before them did whatever the hell they had to do to put food on the table. They suffer from “The Fallout”.
First, let’s get something out of the way: I am a millennial-but I hate them. Not all, but the stereotypical ones. You know what I am talking about and if you are reading this (and you aren’t one), you are probably nodding your head in agreement with me right now. We all know the stereotypes. The perceived lack of work ethic and ability to just put their heads down and work is often times the #1 negative thing that people say about Millenials. One day, I was managing the team and I was really thinking about how, with everything, there is a pendulum swing of extremes. You see it in everything: design, fashion, human behavior, everything. I believe that the majority of Millenials are no different. I believe that our generation is the way that it is because of “The Fallout”.
Think back (if you can) to the working days of the baby boomers. What do you think of? Chances are high that what comes to mind is hard work and long hours paired with working jobs that they didn’t necessarily love, all to ensure they provided their families with food and other needs. They put family needs before anything else, yet they would work long hours, multiple jobs, and jobs they hated and still never see their kids. Just like with everything else, a direct fallout (the proverbial pendulum swing) of this type of hard-working American mindset is that millennials saw their parents focus solely on money, sacrificing everything for their families and then swore they would not follow suit. Whether it is a conscious or subconscious decision, millennials have decided to focus on family first and time freedom before financial freedom, which is why they (we) get labeled as lazy and unwilling to put in the time (which is often perceived as effort) into getting ahead. The truth is that the baby boomers are not more successful than millennials, each generation just has different priorities. Millenials REFUSE to work in a job they hate, no matter how much money it may pay, because typically money is the last thing on their priority list.
What does this mean for you as a business owner? You cannot manage your Millenial (or Gen Z) employees the same way that you were managed early on in your career. You have to make your place of work a place that they will want to work. Do this by making sure to mentor your employees and train them on life skills, and not just core job training. Do this by proving a fun place to work that also allows them the time to focus on their friendships and family priorities (see the benefits of a 4 day work week here).