How Millennials are Redefining Work Happiness
And what you can learn from them …
In my 15 years of working with boomers, Xers, and millennials, helping them find meaning, success, and happiness in their work and lives, I have learned a lot.
In addition to practical application, I have read a plethora of studies, collected polls, followed cultural trends, and raised three millennials of my own. Through doing all of this, I have developed an understanding that I speak about around the world. It’s called T.G.I.M. (Thank God It’s Monday), and millennials have mastered it.
So why do millennials get the short end of the stick when it comes to work ethos, and why are companies falling all over themselves trying to cater to what appears to be the fickleness of this generation?
If you can hear this, I think you’ll find that millennials are not difficult to please at all, and they don’t have to be showered with workplace game rooms, sleeping pods, massages, and dogs at the office to keep them onboard.
They just want to know that you have a compelling mission — and that they matter.
Let’s Turn Back the Clock
When baby boomers (like me, a tail-end boomer) were kids, we played outside — a lot! More importantly, play time was unsupervised.
How many boomers and older Gen Xers remember playing hide ’n’ go seek, kick the can, king of the hill, and fun times like mischief night (the night before Halloween), putting on plays, making and selling stuff, burning ants with a magnifying glass (sorry, ants), and exploring our world, on our own, while our parents were, well, who knows where? But we didn’t care.
We all had a sound that would ring, gong, whistle, or yell from our front porch when it was dinner time. Family meals were important — homework, not so much.
As we got older, our silent-generation parents told us that it was time to get responsible. And so we put away our childish ways and got on with life. Many of us went to college and then landed the best-paying job we could find. That was the goal. We got married, bought the house in the suburbs and the nice cars to go with it, went on cool vacations, and did our best to keep up with the Joneses.
Then, we had kids. And that’s when it all changed.
You see, many boomers got to a point where we began to wonder … Is this all there is? What happened to the fun? That freedom we had to explore, dream, create, invent, connect, think, rest, and reflect? We just tucked it away, until we realized that we could find it again — through our kids.
So we followed our kids around like drones. We earned the Helicopter Mom title and wore it proudly. Why? Because we cared.
The internet soon became part of our daily lives, and with the click of a mouse (swiping wasn’t invented yet), we could find out if there was a child molester in the neighborhood, and we began locking our doors.
We invented the term playdate so that we could have more control over our kids’ social network. But we forgot that when we were kids, even the oddball on the street got to play. Not anymore.
Enter terrorism, 9/11, fear. There was no way we were going to let our children walk down the street alone, like we did. We drove them everywhere and waited to take them home.
We scheduled our kids to the point of absurdity.
Free time? What a waste. Ballet, soccer, lacrosse, chess, private tennis lessons, tutors. We wanted to find out fast what our kids were good at so that we could ride their road to fame with them. Harvard, medical school, future lawyer. We wanted it all for them. We wanted it for us.
But what did they want? They didn’t even have time in their busy schedules to ask themselves that question. They didn’t even know what playing was.
So, when it came time for our millennials to fly out of the nest into the big, bad world, with us hoping we could ride with them, they turned around, raised their arm, and said —
“Talk to the hand.” In other words, stop. They couldn’t take it anymore.
They fought back. And it was the best thing to happen to family and corporate America.
Why? Because millennials will only do what they love. They have to have passion, belief in the company’s mission, a higher purpose where they feel they can make a difference. They suddenly realized they want life on their terms. They want work to be their playground for creativity, exploration, and happiness.
We created them. We told them they were No. 1. We gave them a trophy just for showing up. So now, they weren’t going to settle for second place.
So when you see a millennial job-hop for a while, it’s not because they have ADHD; it’s because they want to find that special company that is the perfect match to their passions, their purpose, and their dreams … the dreams they never had the chance to explore on their own.
The perks are fun, but it’s the purpose that matters. And if you show millennials that your company has a calling, and that you value their contribution, they will be more loyal than any employee you have now.
They embody the late Steve Jobs’ advice: “The only way to do great work is to do what you love.”
And if companies provide great work that millennials love, it will be a great ride for us all.
Jody B. Miller is the CEO of C2C Strategic Management, a TEDx speaker, and a business and life coach. She is known as The Work Happiness Expert. Miller writes for numerous publications, speaks around the world, and is interviewed regularly about creating dynamic and engaging work cultures. Her bestselling books, Drift to SHIFT and The MISOGI Method, are available online and in stores. She is also the host of the top-ranked podcast The MISOGI Method – A New Comfort Zone. www.jodybmiller.com