Of all the generations, it is my personal experience that this generation has received the most pushback regarding their work style, work ethics, and its influence. However, this generation is absolutely essential in today’s work environments. They bring a different perspective to work because they care about self-expression and having a purpose.
Millennials are typically born between 1981 and1999.. Their parents are Baby Boomers or Gen Xers. This is the first generation that has never known work without computer, even though not every household had (and has) one. Schools started to invest in computer labs and computer training and it started to become mandatory in the Western World to submit homework that was typed instead of handwritten. This generation was young, or sometimes not even born yet, when the internet connected the world and information became was readily and widely available. One of the characteristics of Millennials is valuing instant gratification, because they are used to having the world at their fingertips. Another is self-expression, due in large part to the widespread use of cell phones and social media.
Because of the internet and globalization, this is the most diverse generation. This is another great benefit they bring to organizations, because they create a diverse work force with people from different ethnical, educational, and socio-economic backgrounds.
This generation was told that they could achieve anything they wanted, so they are creative, optimistic, and focused. They experienced tremendous academic pressures and school shootings, which caused many students to feel unsafe in school. This led many millennials to live by the notion “You Only Live Once” (YOLO), which is also embedded in their professional lives through a focus on purpose and professional development opportunities.
-Lotte Mulder earned her Master’s of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2013, where she focused on Leadership and Group Development. She’s currently working toward a PhD in Organizational Leadership. At ASCP, Lotte designs and facilitates the ASCP Leadership Institute, an online leadership certificate program. She has also built ASCP’s first patient ambassador program, called Patient Champions, which leverages patient stories as they relate to the value of the lab.
When the Millennial generation is discussed, most sources agree they share these common traits:
- live in a world of technology, have never known a world without computers, and get most information from the internet
- Are rewarded for participation, not achievement, yet are achievement and career oriented
- Experience enormous academic pressure
- Want to make a difference in this world and find a career with a purpose
I was thinking about writing this post as I went to the gym for a personal training session. As I was stretching and lifting weights, I noticed all the millennials in the fitness center! It occurred to me that instead of relying on what researchers say are important to them, I could do my own small survey. I decided to use the KISS Principle. In other words, “Keep It Simple Stakenas!” I focused on one question with three parts, “What are the three most important things to you in your life as a millennial?
When I was done with my workout, I began to walk up to people who looked like they could be millennials. Of course I made a few errors, and fortunately, they were Gen Xers and received my first question as a compliment.
Those that I interviewed who chose to elaborate all seemed to center on one shared opinion. They sought a cause greater than themselves and a strong desire for meaningful experiences, such as learning about different cultures, people, and travel. One stated, “I want to be the best citizen of the world that I can be.”
The first response in the first interview took me by surprise. When asked what the most important things to her were, she said, “wifi.” The second person I interviewed immediately said, the “phone,” then finished with Family and Friends. Five of the 12 interviewed stated that their career was important and work-life balance.
As I grouped the interview answers in topics of importance, I found a common thread. I learned that 11 of the 12 people I interviewed shared what I have called “The 4 F’s,” Family, Friends, Fitness and/or Faith.
Millennials will always be there if you need a “charge!” They understand that “wifi and cell phones” carry with them opportunities for friendships, family connections, careers, education, and even access to ways of worship regardless of your faith.
God Bless Our Millennials!
-Catherine Stakenas, MA, is the Senior Director of Organizational Leadership and Development and Performance Management at ASCP. She is certified in the use and interpretation of 28 self-assessment instruments and has designed and taught masters and doctoral level students.