The two largest groups in the workforce right now are Baby Boomers and Millennials, with the Millennials set to surpass the Boomers in short order. Many individuals in these two groups have found it challenging to work across generational lines to achieve ideal outcomes and collaborate effectively. Why is this? Let’s take a closer look at how Millennials are redefining the workplace to be aligned with happiness and personal fulfillment.
First, let’s call out the many negative stereotypes Millennials have to contend with, such as that they are spoiled, self-centered, lazy, job hoppers, or still living off of mom and dad. What if I told you that these stereotypes are missing the mark? Let me explain.
Lots of work, limited play.
The majority of Millennials grew up with highly structured childhoods. They were scheduled—a lot: school, play dates, extracurriculars, etc. What’s more, studies reveal they didn’t get as much sleep or rest time as previous generations.
For the most part, Millennials didn’t play with other kids unless it was scheduled, and play was typically productively focused. “Helicopter parents” watched and monitored everything and school was a big part of life—a major priority.
Where did the fun and freedom go?
Millennials didn’t get to have the same freedom in childhood as previous recent generations. Why? To start with, technology made parents more aware (i.e., ability to look up online whether your neighbors are criminals). Then following 9/11, fear became a part of daily life and safety became families’ number one concern. Millennial kids were driven to and from everything and never really had time to explore on their own.
School and education were the main focus for Millennials. They were so busy with school, tutors, and extracurricular activities that childhood stress was commonplace. Their well-being suffered and they often felt overwhelmed. Is it really any wonder that Millennials now seek the freedom and joy in the workplace that they were never afforded as children?
With all that structured time and intense schoolwork behind them, adult Millennials naturally feel the need to change the rules and “do their own thing.” They didn’t get as much freedom in childhood, so they want freedom now. If you’re a Millennial, an ideal career looks like:
living in the moment
following your passion
being a game changer
helping others, making a difference
doing what you want and what you love
Try thinking about the difference between Baby Boomers and Millennials in terms of a life timeline. For Boomers, that timeline looks like this:
FREEDOM (childhood) → RESPONSIBILITY (adult life and career) → FREEDOM (after retirement)
Millennials started off life with a lot of responsibility, so their timeline looks more like this:
RESPONSIBILITY → FREEDOM → FREEDOM
Millennials are redefining their lives and careers to be freedom and happiness centered. Taking a deeper look at how and why this is true can help older generations who share the workplace with Millennials better understand their motivations. Boomers and Gen Xers, there’s an opportunity here to let the influx of Millennials make the workplace a more fun and joyful place to be for all.
About Jody: Career and Life Coach Jody B. Miller is author of the new book “From DRIFT to SHIFT: How Change Can Bring True Meaning and Happiness to Your Work and Life.” As CEO of C2C Executive Search & Strategic Management, Jody has helped thousands of people find true meaning in their work and in their lives. Learn more at www.JodyBMiller.com.