This article is a brief introduction into the mind of America’s new workforce: millennials and beyond. In three key areas we see how our views contradict those of generations before; employment opportunities, organizational hierarchy, and compensation.
The millennial mindset: work (n.)(v.)
Seeking a career not a job: Millennials as a commodity
With overall unemployment at 5.3% (2015), many would argue that there are jobs out there for millennials. But, in actuality these are jobs we feel we have done too much schooling and career preparation to want to settle for. This generational feeling of over qualification is upheld by statistics that say 34% of millennials have at least a bachelor degree (2014). It is evident that we do not see ourselves settling in the current construct of work in America if that means working jobs our baby boom counterparts were doing straight out of high school and earning 77 % as much as someone with a college degree. “I think our mindset is a direct reflection of seeing our parents and grandparents work their fingers to the bone, for a company that outsourced labor,” says Julian. Simply put, companies need to value what all millennials bring to the table. Unlike our parents and grandparents, we have more critical thinking skills and have been exposed to what is beyond the typical nine to five workday. When companies begin to see us as the game-changing commodity, we in turn will commit our time and energy to the greater good.
Seeking a community not a hierarchy: Millennials as equals
As a working class citizen of the United States, I understand the need and despise the categories we place ourselves in for the sake of order. In the workplace this pressure to follow the chain of command is especially felt from older generations. Many of which feel we do not respect the way things are prior to our adulthood and entry into the workplace. Mainly due to the fact that we do not feel the right person on said chain is hearing our ideas and/or complaints. Just like “Telephone”; the game we played in school to see just how misconstrued a phrase can get when unnecessary ears/parties are involved. This is at the core of our group values; we understand how the hierarchy keeps those who work, working and those who manage, managing and those who decide, deciding. When asked about hierarchy, Eleanor, age 28, states, “We do not care for hierarchy or the corporate ladder, our values are just different.” I believe we, as millennials are the first of our kind to acknowledge our distaste for the hierarchy and have valid ideas that are worth sharing. Our values thrive on the concept of circumventing the ladder and ensuring everyone in the working community feels valuable.
Seeking satisfaction beyond a paycheck: Millennial benefits
With Millennials waiting longer to get married and/or have kids the idea of employee benefits becomes less about health insurance and 401k’s and more about workplace culture and non-cash benefits. “For me, it’s less about money and more about the business culture as a whole,” says Addy. Surely we are aware of the importance of retirement but we want to see our companies work for us as hard as we do for them. The best way for a company to expect to see millennials bright-eyed and ready to work is if you are seeking to build a community within the business. This community offers ways to enhance the workday through employee fitness, in-house meals, and weekly town hall meetings. All of which offer avenues for employees to maintain their personal well-being and communicate their group needs.
Overall, Millennials want to work and be appreciated for the work they do. Ideally, companies should note the change and seek to include the values of this generation. We want to be sustainable, we are not concerned with getting a job to pay bills, we do not wish to participate in climbing the corporate ladder, and we are the first predominately non-white generation in the workforce. The needs of millennial workers are simple and ultimately leave only one thing to be said; we are the capital and we are more valuable than dollars and cents. As the face of working America changes, the workplace must meet the change with an open mind rather than holding on to a model that only benefits the top 1%.