Our generation’s been called a lot of things: whiny, self-absorbed, and the group that Gen X’ers and Baby Boomer just can’t seem to “get”. This is extremely interesting to me, because Generation Y, the Millennials, are not that much different from Baby Boomers in their idealism.
All we really want is to live a fulfilling life in the world that our predecessors have left us–so we’ve begun to shape it in ways that will allow us to do so. If raising our voices to better the world we live in equates to “whiny”, and “self-absorbed”, well… I guess I’m happy to fit that bill, personally.
The good thing is that we actually are making change happen, particularly in the workforce.
Executives are ditching certain formalities such as dress-code (who wants to spend money on an expensive suit anyway?), realizing that talent and expertise aren’t summed up by how well you dress, but rather by the merit of your actions.
Robert Todd of ?WHAT IF! Innovation even suggests that “companies with the most liberal approach to workplace attire are some of the most innovative.”
It’s funny to think about how much power we have as a generation to create change.
Now that we’re stepping into the workplace, we’re coming in with gusto, new values and attitudes, and sharp skills (some would argue that this country’s huge skills gap is evidence against this, but I’d argue that Millennials are the ones solving that problem, not creating it).
Where Gen X’er’s originally had to adapt to the Baby Boomer’s cultural “norm” for workplace validation, now they are finding that they have to adapt to the new horde of Millennial’s set of standards, and they reach far beyond dress code.
What studies have found is that we’re looking for three basic things in the workplace: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Once we achieve those three elements, we’re intrinsically motivated and happy enough to do almost anything, both emotions that tend to be the driving factors in most successful companies’ growth nowadays.
Think about it. Millennials don’t want a boss barking orders at us all day, or asking why we forgot to put the new cover sheet on our TPS reports. We don’t want to sit silently, supervised hawk-eye style from 9 to 5.
We’re autonomous in every other part of our lives because we can do almost anything from anywhere now with smartphones and laptops–so why shouldn’t work be the same?
Our desire for a good balance between our outside-of-work and at-work lives has done away with the antiquated image of the ‘good ‘ol company man’, and more individuals have secured work-from-home or flexible-schedule positions.
This doesn’t indicate that we’re lazy, however, or that we don’t want to work. Not at all.
We want to kick ass at what we do.
I mean, honestly, when was the last time you wanted to do anything that you sucked at? Human nature is to want to be good at something and achieve mastery in whatever that is–which is why you see Millennials so antsy to get promotions, raises, all of that. We want to see progress, and we want to see it frequently. A lot of us quit and look for other jobs when we feel stagnant, and who can blame us?
Now these first two puzzle pieces don’t mean much without the last one: purpose.
Without agreeing with “why” we’re doing something, we generally don’t want to do it.
Sure, everybody has to make money, that’s why we all have jobs. But do you think companies that exist seemingly solely for the benefit of making the CEO some cash are the types of companies that are growing?
No, of course not, because we’d rather support companies that place importance on going green, giving back, and ultimately making a conscious effort to do good in society.
This updated focus on company culture has been a huge point of study for many businesses, and the good news is that they’re listening.
More and more companies are respectful of and accommodating to an employee’s desire to lead an active “out-of-work” life. More and more companies are also dedicated to giving back to society in one way or another. All of this, simply because we’ve demanded it.
We’re called “Generation Me” for a number of reasons, but one of them is that we’re tired of companies with workplaces that don’t treat us how we feel we should be treated. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. A job without autonomy, mastery, and purpose, isn’t a job that any of us want to work at. Even Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers can understand that.
So I say to you: keep being picky, and keep demanding change.
As long as we keep pushing for value and purpose from our jobs, together, we can make the workforce a better place.
About the author: Andrew Heikkila is a writer, artist, and entrepreneur from Boise, Idaho. Follow him on Twitter @andyo_thehammer.
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