A Millennial Pipe Dream: Inspiring work environs

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Michael Nattoo

“Returning from work feeling inspired, safe, fulfilled and grateful is a natural human right to which we are all entitled, and not a modern luxury that only a few lucky ones are able to find.” – Simon Sinek, ‘Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t’. For most people, that statement is, at the very least, idealistic. After all, work is work, and by today’s standards, you certainly can’t have it all. Looking for a job that is both fulfilling AND rewarding? You may as well get in line.The rule typically is that we should be grateful for whatever job we have – you know, for the chance to earn an income, and stay in our lane.

Luckily, I’m a millennial, so I know nothing about staying in my lane.

AN IDEALISTIC BUNCH

The characteristic penchant for idealism (in millennials) is what led me to the conclusion that wanting more from our work environments – wanting to feel inspired, safe, fulfilled, and grateful – is not just a pipedream that ought to be reserved for when we’re living in a ‘perfect world’, but is something that is uncompromisingly necessary if we are to move meaningfully closer to that ideal world.

Is that all still sounding like a bag of rainbows, gummy bears and unicorn tears? Alright. Let’s assume for a second then that pursuing those ideals is utterly unrealistic. Well, majority rules, right? By that token, the majority dictates what that ‘reality’ will be, right? Have I got news for you! The Pew Research Center recently revealed that in the next two years, 50 percent of the US workforce will be made up of millennials. By 2030, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, that number will jump to 75 percent.

The world typically goes the way of the US, so that data has reasonable external validity to the Jamaican context. In other words, millennials are locally dominating the workforce, and that number will also increase. What does this mean? It means, unequivocally, our voices will dictate what kind of conditions employers and leaders set for us. By extension, this means that our voices coming together to dictate working conditions that are inspiring, fulfilling, safe and gratifying will effectively set the status quo.

LISTEN, IT’S GOOD FOR BUSINESS

In other words, not paying attention to our voices will not be good for business. And sure, that could very well be a threat rooted in our much-talked-about heightened sense of entitlement and our place in the world, but the Gallup Research on Millennial Engagement has us saying what we mean, and meaning what we say. Here’s some of the info:

  • Only 29 percent of millennials are engaged in the workforce. 55 percent are not engaged, and 16 percent are actively disengaged.
  • They (millennials) change jobs more often than other generations. About 21 percent of Millennials reported switching jobs within the last year, and 60 percent are open to a different opportunity.
  • Millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy in particularly an estimated $30.5 billion dollars annually.

A number of insights can be drawn from that data, but perhaps what may stand out to employers especially is the seeming lack of loyalty on the part of millennials, which costs companies billions each year. We are notorious for moving from one job to a next, but is that because we simply have no concept of loyalty? Is it that we simply take pleasure in not being stable? Here’s what The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey revealed on the issue of millennial loyalty, and why it is that we seem less incapable of that quality in relation to organizations:

– Majority of millennials across the world agree with the statement that businesses “have no ambition beyond wanting to make money.”

  • Only 48 percent of millennials believe that businesses behave ethically, a decline from 65 percent in 2019.
  • When millennials believe their company has a high trust culture, they are 22 times more likely to want to work there for a long time.
  • Millennials who say they have a great workplace are 59 times more likely to endorse their company to friends and family.
  • The top priorities when looking for a job are money (92 percent), security (87 percent), holidays/time off (86 percent), great people (80 percent) and flexible working hours.

JUST A LITTLE MORE

Again, there’s a lot to unpack, but the data basically suggests that millennials need a lot more than the traditional provisions made for employee success in a workplace. We’re an idealistic bunch, and as such, we’d like to see some of that reflected in the places we work. It’s not just about money (though that is unquestionably important). We need to know that we’re working for something beyond making ends meet. We need to feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. We can’t, however, create those connections if our work environments do not allow us to feel safe, fulfilled, grateful and inspired. “Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them… Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job.” – Sinek.

So you see, it’s not just about what we want. It’s also about understanding that ultimately, what we want will absolutely result in the benefit of whichever company we may find ourselves working for. We want what we want, but we’re not self-centred, selfish pricks. The world will be better for it.

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