Dear Corporate America,
I know what you say about us millennials. We have no loyalty, no work ethic, and all we care about is ourselves.
We’re dependent on our parents, and we’re entitled narcissists because we received too many participation trophy as children.
I’m guilty of some of these things. At age 25, I still live with my parents, and so do a lot of my friends. Frankly, I like that I don’t have to spend half my paycheck on rent. And I like recognition for my work, which I guess is in some sense a participation trophy. But idea that millennials have no work ethic and no loyalty to the workplace? That is where you’re wrong.
Sean Lyons, co-editor of Managing the New Workforce: International Perspectives on the Millennial Generation, says “This generation has the highest likelihood of having unmet expectations with respect to their careers and the lowest levels of satisfaction with their careers at the stage that they’re at. It is sort of a crisis of unmet expectations.”
The point isn’t to complain about the lazy millennials quitting their jobs left and right. Rather, the question to be asking here is WHY? Why are we so dissatisfied?
I, amongst many millennials, quit the job that made me miserable. I quit because I was tired of cancelling plans, begging to take my vacation time, being micromanaged by multiple people, and having virtually nothing to show for my efforts. I quit because I value lunch breaks, education, hobbies, and travel in addition to working. But work was all or nothing. And the saddest part in all of this is that I’m not alone. Friends of mine have left all types of jobs from a variety of companies – everything from small agencies to giant tech companies. And they all cited one of these reasons.
Corporate America – you might think we’re entitled, but maybe we’re just utterly disappointed. It’s not that millennials are lazy. It’s that we want our work to mean something. We want the opportunity to contribute our ideas because we have some good ones. We want to be innovative – to make the rules, change the rules, and break the rules. We want to make mistakes and learn from them. We want to matter – not just so we can go home and say “work can’t survive without me”. No. We want to make a difference – to use our expertise as digital natives and channel it into something great. Why else do you think there are so many startups out there? Why do you think so many millennials are choosing to work at startups over the large corporations?
We don’t want to be told that we can’t contribute ideas because this is how things have always been. We don’t want to hear that we have to cancel our plans three times a week because of a work “emergency”. And we don’t want to hear that we can’t take vacation time because work is just too busy.
At the end of the day, we want two things: flexibility and opportunity. Give us the opportunity to innovate and lead. Be flexible, and let us determine what works best for our work style. The future I see is one that allows me to seamlessly incorporate my work into my life and my life into my work. It sounds far-fetched and idealistic, I know. But idealism is another great trait of our generation.
Dear Corporate America. We’re the next CEOs, senators, and world leaders. We’re here to stay. Give us a chance and don’t stifle our ideas. You might like what you see.