Sure, they may seem overly confident, brash and even lazy. They’d rather be unemployed than take a job they don’t like. And for them, the line between work and play is more like a smudge—something corporate America finds unsettling. But they watched their workaholic parents dedicate themselves to their careers. And for what? A gold watch? A pink slip? It’s hard to blame the Millennials for not wanting the same kind of life.
Asking Smart Questions
Millennials were taught to question authority, and now they’re questioning our fundamental notions of work. And the questions they’re asking aren’t bad ones.
- Why should I have to choose between having a job and having a life?
- Why should I spend a third of my life in a cubicle farm?
- Why can’t I work wherever and whenever I want as long as I get the job done?
- Why would my employer want me to waste time travelling when I have the world at my fingertips?
- What’s the point of being loyal to one employer?
- Why would I want to work for a company that doesn’t care about the planet’s future?
- Why can’t I do something good for the world and make money at the same time?
What would be so bad about a world where people cared about the environment, family time, and doing something they enjoyed? And what would be so bad about a business world where employees were held responsible for their actions, where everyone was judged by what they accomplished rather than how well they schmoozed the boss or how many hours they spent at their desks?
Millennials don't just ask tough questions, they also have a lot to offer employees:
- They are tech savvy. For employers, that means higher productivity.
- They are optimistic and eager to make a contribution.
- They are results oriented.
- They crave feedback, which can be irritating, but is that such a bad thing? And, by the way, who doesn’t?
- They are happy to work independently, but they are also team players.
- They value social interaction, though face-time for them is often via the latest and greatest device.
Consider the Boomers
Now, if you still find yourself dissing the younger generation, consider the Boomers. By now they’ve had their families, climbed the corporate ladder and owned a home or two. But they weren’t always so buttoned up. Think back to when they were 20-something. (Think hygiene issues, hookahs and free love.)
Okay, maybe they (actually we, as I’m a Boomer myself) weren’t all like that, but the same can be said of Millennials. But all in all—and in particular contrast to many Boomers in their youths—today’s up-and-comers seem like a pretty squared away bunch.
Sure they have something to learn from our years of experience, but we have much to learn from them, too. And like it or not, they are our future. So let’s stop with all the labels and welcome them into the workforce.Over the past 30 years, Kate Lister has owned and operated several successful businesses and arranged financing for hundreds of others. She’s co-authored three business books including Undress For Success—The Naked Truth About Making Money at Home (Wiley, 2009) and Finding Money—The Small Business Guide to Financing (2010). Her blogs include Finding Money Advice and Undress4Success.