CEO at 20 or employable at 60
The percentage of Millennials in the workplace is on the rise. In some industries they already constitute three fourths of the working population. With this shift in workforce composition some important traditional values seem to be eroding. One of these values is professional commitment. Millennials are seen as impatient. They want to quickly grow and make an ‘impact’. They seem to switch jobs at the drop of a hat. Is this realistic or sustainable? Let’s explore some of the causes and effects of these inevitable shifts.
A primer on Millennials
Millennials are the offspring of helicopter parents. These young men and women grew up in a world of technology and high connectivity. Unlike previous generations Millennials shop online instead of going to physical stores. They spend more time engaging with friends on social media than in the real world. Millennials got hooked on instant gratification through online fulfillment. Binge watching and online dating are two examples. Helicopter parents further reinforced the idea that each of these individuals is special. When Millennials get to the workplace for the first time, these illusions shatter with profound consequences.
Prior generations have had a sound ideology for workplace success. It involves humble apprenticeship accompanied by the slow process of skill acquisition, leading to gradual professional growth. This model is based on the ideology of sustained effort, which was required for pretty much everything in life. It leads to solid skills which create lifelong employability. For example, millions of migrants moved to the UK since 1945. They made sustained efforts, grew professionally, and prospered. Today migrants send in excess of $27 billion annually from the UK in remittances. Much of these are sent via reliable services such as Ria Money Transfer UK. The sustained-effort workplace ideology is time-tested and global. It works everywhere.
In contrast, having grown up in an environment of instant gratification, Millennials find it very difficult to invest sustained effort. Consequently it is frequently a challenge for them to acquire skills and deep knowledge. When Millennials first enter the workplace, many are unable to adapt mentally. Sometimes they blame themselves. Many tend to suffer from depression. In recent years this has led to greater social evils such as drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and elevated suicide rates. Millennials also struggle to form meaningful relationships, both at work and elsewhere. This is one of the reasons why working remotely is so popular among this group.
Making an ‘impact’
In an age of social media Millennials grew up with instant gratification. As a result of helicopter parenting Millennials expect to be rewarded for mediocre and even poor performance. Workplaces quickly shatter these illusions. Moreover, true job satisfaction is not instant. It takes time and consistent effort. Millennials have abstract ideas about an ‘impact’ that they want to make. Researchers have compared this abstraction to a finish line at the end of a marathon. Millennials expect to achieve instantly what most professionals only accomplish after years of committed service. They see the rewards at the finish line, but not the arduous miles which they must run to get there. This is why we see such a high percentage of Millennials hopping jobs so frequently, citing vague reasons. Another outcome of this disillusioning experience is hopping careers. Most Millennials today are in professions which have no relation to their education, or previous jobs. As some industry captains have pointed out, the sad fact is that most Millennials are simply not employable in the professions of their qualifications.
A word to employers
Within a few years the only resources available in the employment pool will be Millennials. The fact that they hop jobs so often means that there are multitudes of them in the job market. At the same time Millennials have proven hard to train, retain, engage, and motivate. What many employers fail to see is that these youngsters suffer from a want of strong leadership. Employers won’t retain them with quick promotions or free food, or by letting them work from home. To attract and motivate Millennials employers must create those meaningful connections that are so badly lacking in these youngsters’ lives. HR strategies must evolve to cope with the inevitable transitions in workforce demographics. Companies must shift their focus from short term economic gains to long term employee engagement and retention.
We are defined by the decisions we make. True satisfaction is not instant. Real gratification only comes from sustained effort. Working together with colleagues creates strong synergies over time. It is these synergies which create profits, fulfillment, and success. The real rewards are not at the finish line, but along each mile and each step.
About the author:
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.