Over on the blogging platform Medium, a female Millennial employee wrote an open letter to the CEO of Yelp, the company she worked for. (According to the post script in the article, she says she was let go after the post was published.) In it, she details how her childhood dreams have been crushed. She feels it's a tough and unfair situation trying to survive on her own in San Francisco, for which she blames the employer, the economy, society, etc.
Soon after, a fellow female Millennial, just a few years older, who had gone through a similar experience in New York City, shared a strong rebuttal, essentially scolding the young woman.
What's fascinating are the comments on both posts. It appears two types of Millennial mindsets are emerging from the extended recession that has caused them to be underemployed and dealing with debt: whiners vs. winners.
Millennials have valid reasons to be upset.
Millennials have inherited tough times. The economy and low pay are frustrating and stressful. I can appreciate their anger over excessive school loan debt too.
Plus, there really are a lot of terrible companies out there taking advantage of Millennials. This generation is dealing with a challenging situation they were never properly trained for. However, as the blogging battle above points out, it's how they'll choose to deal with this adversity that will determine their fate.
The critical skill Millennials never got trained in
My father was a small-business owner. I started working at his company when I was 13 years old and have had a job every year since. There were plenty of days when I felt sorry for myself and would complain about how tough I had it. My father shut that down quickly. Two quotes in particular come to mind:
- Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
- How successful you are depends on how much s--- you're willing to put up with.
While the advice didn't make sense in my teens and early 20s, it does now. My dad was talking about having grit. Life experience gives you grit -- but it's not pretty.
Today, the current economic situation is testing Millennials' grit. Unfortunately, some are making critical mistakes that are costing them opportunities for advancement. In other cases, like the woman from Yelp, they're even getting fired.
Companies have to hire Millennials. Therefore, consider this.
It's estimated there are over 77 million Millennials. They currently make up 50 percent of our work force, and within 10-15 years will make up 75 percent of the work force. If you're a manager today, you have to ask yourself, "Which type of Millennial mindset would I want to invest my company's time and money on recruiting and retaining?"
My 2 questions to readers are this:
1) How can companies help Millennials get more grit without making them quit?
2) How can managers tell the whiners from the winners when recruiting Millennials?
I'd love to see your answers in the comments below.