Millennial - the buzzword for anyone but the millennialsPosted by Helen Bennett | March 21, 2017
21st March 2017 by Georgia Bennett
Isn't it interesting that the only people who are freaking out over the buzzword millennial are anyone but the people in question? We’re not the ones to have come up with the term ‘millennials’.
I'm noticing that there are more and more articles and thought leadership pieces on what millennials want and need in the work place, their attributes and their downfalls. This is amazing. I am so glad these concepts are being discussed, as I completely agree my generation is unique and we're changing the work place (primarily for the better).
But what I'm not seeing often is what millennials themselves actually have to say on the matter. And sometimes some of the things that are said about us are decidedly inconsiderate - unfortunately the grumblings of previous generations can come across as reluctant. Our predecessors seem to be in denial that times are changing. Not denial in the sense that it's not happening, because we're clearly seeing they love to talk about how it's happening. Moreover, it’s that they can't hack or cope with the prospect. Perhaps this is because they feel hard done by - as a generation we're focused on mental health and making sure life is about more than just our careers. This is typically contrary to what the past generations have been bought up to feel and believe. It does make me wonder if a huge part of the 'buzz' around millennials is actually shock and moreover, fear. Maybe the older generations feel as if we shouldn't be allowed to think about our work-life balance and such, because they didn't have that privilege, so it would be unfair.
For example, I often find myself deliberating about the vicious cycle of 'work' as an entity in itself. We work to be paid. Well paying jobs demand huge amounts of time, mental energy, physical energy and most of all – can consume our life. In turn, we earn all this 'fabulous' money... for what? We're barely at home, with family or on holiday to enjoy this money because we're sat at a desk for excessive numbers of hours a day. It's an unbreakable cycle.
This is exactly the sort of situation our generation are pondering over... whilst our parents sigh at our philosophical outlook and just tell us ‘well that’s just the way life is’. We’re challenging that.
So, why aren’t millennials joining the hype? My musings would lead me to believe that it's because millennials fundamentally don't see themselves as games-changers or anything out of the ordinary. We perceive ourselves as normal, so we just don't think about how we're throwing off senior leaders all around the world.
I think us not playing up to the hype is a really good sign. It suggests what is happening now - changing leadership and the workplace for the better - is a natural process. Or moreover it implies we think it's normal and natural. As a result, as we're meant to be the 'new' and revolutionary way of thinking... so it then is ‘true’. It's an amazing example of self-fulfilling prophecy.
My suggestion for the older generations would be a welcoming approach. Besides, you can’t deny and change a whole generation – this is how we are and so this is how things will be from now on in. I think the best way for the previous generations to adapt is not to see it as an us-and-them divide, or as a reason why they begrudgingly have to change their managing methods. Leaders should see it as an opportunity to blend and also to change their habits, for what would be considered now a positive and refreshing change.
And as for us millennials, I think we need to keep being us. Of course we have our faults. But we should love the fact we’re inspiring change everywhere. We’re arguably more mindful, liberal, progressive, healthy, thoughtful and sustainable. We’re more entrepreneurial, feisty, driven and determined, which is why more and more millennials are choosing to be self-employed(1); we’re a generation that can’t stand micromanaging, lack of autonomy or lack of purpose.
'We aren’t the "me me me generation." We’re a group of determined individuals who refuse to settle because we know how great our impact can be when we find work we truly care about.'(2)
As a thought provoking note to end on, it is worth remembering that, according to a lot of views and research, our parents are the ones who bought us up this way...
Sixty seven percent of employed millennials (aged 18-34) want to leave the traditional work structure and become self-employed, according to a 2014 survey by Harris Poll and CreativeLive; https://www.forbes.com/sites/katherinelove/2016/04/27/millennials-chart-paths-to-impassioned-self-employed-success/#15a474a27eac; http://luckyattitude.co.uk/self-employment-uk-millennials/