Odds are, you’ve probably seen or at least heard of Simon Sinek, who recently challenged the entire world and the way we work in his viral video addressing what he calls “the millennial question.” He observes — somewhat critically — the different conditions in which the millennial generation grew up compared to their predecessors, how this has affected their personality, and consequently, the way they fit into the job market.
Although there are no set boundaries, millennials are the generation born somewhere between the early 1980s and 2000s who, as Sinek describes, are accused of being “entitled, unfocused, lazy and tough to manage.” What’s even more controversial and interesting about Sinek’s take on the matter, however, is his affirmation that it’s not their fault. He describes that this is a generation who grew up being told that “they could have anything they wanted, just because they wanted it,” distorting their view of the world and leaving them unprepared for what awaits them. And yet, this brings a whole new idea and adamant belief into their lives: that work goes hand-in-hand with happiness.
A large majority of previous generations have seemed to surrender to the fact that true and genuine happiness in the workplace is an unattainable, utopian idea, while for millennials, it is an absolute essential. Millennials have grown up their entire lives with a hunger to work in a place with purpose: where they can truly make a difference and feel valued as individuals.
I believe this is an idea everyone should have incorporated into their workplace a long time ago. Millennials have so much potential to change the way we work and function in the best possible way.
Companies shouldn’t be forcing millennials to fit into their mold, as is often the case. Rather, companies need to understand and adapt to this generation. Forcing them to change would make for an unhappy, demotivated and uninspired workforce that is inevitably the key to our entire future. Companies should build — or rebuild — themselves to be able to attract this fresh wave of young talent by creating core values that focus on people. Companies should be based on foundations of trust, support, tolerance, communication, self-management, self-fulfillment and happiness.
Sinek speaks to the impatience of the millennial generation and their need for instant gratification, but it is organizations that must learn to be patient. This change won’t come easy, but it’s imperative.
So what exactly can we, as companies, do to welcome the millennial generation?
Create workspaces where people are put first.
We can never forget that our businesses only function because of the people who work for them. The most important asset in any organization is the team members who make its existence possible. Their happiness and wellbeing is something that we must strive for.
I have seen that if young people feel that they play an important role within their company and are given responsibilities and goals to achieve rather than feel oppressed and micromanaged, it builds their ability to work fervently. This develops tolerance and patience toward the inevitable mistakes along their arduous path to success.
Promote emotional as well as professional growth.
I talk a lot about the importance of a team’s continuous learning and growing their professional skills. It is equally as important, however, not to forget about our emotional skills. Patience, effort and tolerance are complex matters that require a different kind of learning based on a team’s open communication and intelligent leadership, where the leader supports these young people both professionally and emotionally to develop their skills.
Have a purpose and an impact on society.
The millennial generation has different values than those of its predecessors. They no longer strive for lifelong employment positions; they will change workplaces every several years. That’s why they look for a place where they feel fulfilled, happy, and where their contributions bring a change to the world, even if only small. They want to identify with what their company stands for.
My company has three core values: admire people, always find a better way, and obsess over customer experience. Each and every one of us strives to live these values out every day, which makes us a united, satisfied, eager and motivated team.
Create teams from different generations.
Each generation has its strong points, and the millennial generation is full of digital natives. They grew up surrounded by computers, smart phones and the internet. Previous generations however, are better versed in tolerance and dealing with frustration. Creating teams with members from different generations will create the best of both worlds, where they will learn and teach whatever they know best.
Millennials are onto something, and it’s something that we need to embrace. They bring with them an innovative and revolutionary way of thinking, where work and happiness are not only compatible but indispensable, and where people are put first. The future is here, and they are ready to change the world.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.