Baby boomers took over the workforce when they came of age, and made a huge impact. It comes of no surprise that they raised their children, the next generation of the workforce, to do the same. Now millennials are flooding into corporate America, and many baby boomer managers, entrepreneurs and leaders are re-evaluating what it means to be a millennial--what their needs and passions are.
Below are seven traits that most millennials have that baby boomer employers should keep in mind:
Passion matters. Often I see the eye roll when people hear the saying "Follow your passion no matter what." But millennials actually chase it, and for better or for worse, happiness is found in the search for passion and meaning. This is something most millennials have a deep understanding of.
Risk-taking. Millennials have seen what chasing "stability" means; the classic Enron movie parody "Fun with Dick and Jane" showcased it perfectly. Millennials received the message that corporations don't have their back.
Work-life alignment. For many millennials, the concept of work-life balance is a lie. They feel that corporate America doesn't care if they're happy or fulfilled during the week, as long as they get to go rock climbing on Saturday morning (as said by good friend Joe McMenemon, Co-founder of ChapterSpot). Instead, they believe in work-life alignment, or aligning their life passion with their career interests.
Who wants to spend 50-70 hours a week, which many millennials do, of their life investing in something they don't believe in?
Thinking in terms of missions. The endless grind does not work for most millennials. Corporate America is lying to themselves if they think they can build the next generation of "lifers." Instead, they seek to build their work and passions in blocks, just like the army does missions; it's a clear objective over an understood timeframe, and when they achieve it, it's a notch in their belt that opens up future opportunities.
Allow a new perspective to change your focus on a dime. Millennials feel that if you learn something new that you're strongly interested in, why not chase it? Life is short, and most millennials aren't interested in putting in 10 years at a job just because they think it will make their resumes look better, particularly when they are repeatedly being told that so few employers read resumes anymore.
Spontaneity. Millennials remember the old saying: "no risk no reward." Many are aware of the fear of missing out, and seek rewarding experience over potential consequences.
Millennials are world travelers. Deng Xiaoping, the idealist Chinese leader, who opened China to the world, was focused on two things: Traveling abroad and seeing what the world did well, as well as the realization that 1970's China was actually far behind the innovation curve, admitting it in public and making it a major focus to bring new ideas, industrial methods, and technology into China.
Millennials have an understand that America is an amazing country, but they also believe that ideas from abroad can sharpen our ideas and bring about best practices at home.