A Millennial’s Perspective on Motivation at Work

August 25, 2014
Most people have heard of millennials. You know, that age group that was born between the 1980s and the 2000’s; children of baby boomers or Gen Xers and defined by their use of technology and their upbringing? Well, you should know about them, considering soon they will make up over 50% of the workforce. Most organizations are trying their best to recognize the rise of Gen Y and are thinking about how to “handle” them in their organizations. What do they expect? How do they work? What does this mean for the rest of us? Companies are doing research, attending seminars, and trying to prepare for this new wave of young people that will inevitably take over the workplace. So, instead of trying to figure out the minds of these twenty-somethings everyone is talking about, here’s a little insight from yours truly about Gen Y and having a job in today’s workplace. I am a millennial. I am a college graduate. Let me explain a little bit about our generation and higher education. We grew up in a world where our parents wanted to make sure our lives were much better than theirs. Unlike what you might expect from a typical millennial, most of us did not grow up in affluent suburbs where our parents had the capital to spoil us. The values imparted to us, however, were pretty much the same across the board: be successful in your profession and make a good life for yourself and your family. It  took a while to decide exactly what we wanted to do with our lives. College years were spent working hard to earn a degree in a field we were passionate about. We wanted to find the perfect career path, something to be proud of. The expectation was that we would leave college and immediately find an opportunity that allowed us to use our degrees and land a promising position. Our parents didn’t want us to struggle, but wanted us to work hard. It all pays off in the end, right? I am a millennial. I want to and have to work. Being successful in a well-paying career is very important to our generation. Often, we will hold out for the perfect opportunity to come along before settling for a job that would make us unhappy. Millennials leave college with an average of $30,000 in student loans. We are living with our parents longer, have more financial responsibility right out of college, and are eager to start making money because of this debt. What’s most important to us in a job may not be what’s important to the rest of the workforce... To feel useful: We need to feel useful, important, and an asset not only in our position, but to the company overall. If we don't, it won't be long before we find somewhere we feel we can contribute. To have opportunities to grow: If the position we have does not allow growth in our career, we will move on to the next job opportunity that will. We strive to be the best, and ultimately, to make money. To know we are appreciatedmillennials: Yes, we are the generation that got trophies for just participating. It is understandable that this takes away chances to teach us valuable lessons. However, this is the world we grew up in, and this concept follows us into our work life. If we do a great job, we want to know about it! We want to hear thank you, or receive some sort of recognition for a job well done. To provide fact : We’ve grown up with so much technology and information. We have learned to sift through all of this material to find out what is real. We seek truth and we are good at finding it. To work hard and play hard: Millennials will work just as hard as the rest of the workforce. We will put in the long hours and make sure the job is done well. However, we need some fun in the mix! We like going out for drinks with coworkers, taking company trips, having co-workers meet our friends. Our jobs take up over 30% of our time, so we might as well get close to those who surround us every day. To be a part of a community: We need a strong sense of community, and like working in teams. We seek the need to be surrounded by a network of people who like and support us. We like a lot of friends, and family means everything to us. To be proud of a culture: When job searching, companies which offer employee benefits beyond cash bonuses will be most sought after by millennials. We are more attracted to a company’s culture. Does my company make this a place I would want to spend 40 hours (or more) a week and still say I love my job? I’m a millennial. Please don’t judge me based on this phrase. Although millennials are the future, there is some stigma surrounding this term. The word lumps us into a category that is thought to be self-entitled and self-absorbed. Personally, I don’t think there is much to “figure out” about my generation. First, we don’t like to be looked down upon as the self-entitled children of the world. All of our behaviors and characteristics have been shaped by the world that has surrounded us. But most importantly, my generation has something to show and something to prove for themselves. It is time to spend less energy judging and more of it engaging millennials. If you show to us that you care about us as employees, we will do anything to help and grow  your organization. We are the culture of the future both in and out of the office. Get ready!

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