I recently attended the Next Generation Retail Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona to meet with some of the movers and shakers in the business world. After a long week of meetings, workshops, and keynote speeches my mind was tired, but inspired.

I boarded my flight back home expecting to get some much needed rest before returning to a busy workplace. But to my surprise, the young man in the middle seat and older gentleman in the row seat were both quite interesting.

For the majority of the flight we spoke about our respective interests, but what really got my attention was how intelligent and well-rounded Joel, the young man next to me, seemed.

Joel was a mechanical engineering student who spent his free time volunteering to teach teenagers how to drive defensively and best prepare for their upcoming drivers license tests. He mentioned how so many teens practice driving for a few hours with their parents and then get thrust into the world of driving unprepared.

He was flying across the country to volunteer with the program and proudly informed me he had spent over 100 hours with them, truly enjoyed it, and had no intentions on quitting any time soon.

We got to talking about how my company could better serve the world and become more socially conscious, and the topic of the younger generations came up. "I hate it when people call Millennials lazy," Joel told me.

Here is a young man with a rigorous class schedule, who spends his free time educating others on safe driving techniques, which affect not only them but others on the road. He's holding his own in conversation with me and Tom (the adjunct professor next to us who was writing a grant proposal for a government contract while we all chatted away).

Talking with Joel got me thinking. When I got back to work, I sat down with my team of hard-working Millennial employees and asked what they hoped for, wanted, and expected out of a job or career.

This is what they had to say:

Five things Millennials look for in a job:

  1. They enjoy a flexible schedule. Life is unpredictable, and with a full class schedule, part time job, and homework to be done a little leeway goes a long way.
  2. They work well under pressure, when we've got 300 new products to add they hunker down and get the job done.
  3. They are creative, and are great to bounce ideas off of. They want the chance to think creatively and offer suggestions. Our team meetings often yield amazing project opportunities.
  4. They think freely, but work most efficiently when there are clear goals and expectations. From a management standpoint providing them with a schedule of tasks yields the most tangible results.
  5. They want to be a part of an innovative group. Nobody wants to feel like they are working to make someone else succeed, we should grow together as a team.

For example, one of the projects we're working on now stemmed from a combination of ideas our team put together. We took a suggestion--someone else's idea--and then I flipped it on its head and figured out how to make it turn a profit.

This project is aimed to be our most profitable one yet--and it's all thanks to our Millennial employees joining together and bouncing ideas off one another. This is our project together, not just another task I have put on their desk and asked them to complete--they are invested in its success.

Millennials hate being called lazy. They wake up, go to class, go to work, study, volunteer, and when the day is over they still have friends and families to tend to.

There simply aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish more.

We know that it's wrong to use blanket statements (and yes, I realize the irony that this post contains a few of them). But we do so on a daily basis, regardless.

Take the time to view the good in people (including those pesky Millennials) and positive results will follow.

Published on: Sep 29, 2016
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