Millennials are more likely to look for work they find meaningful. But who are ‘millennials’ and what does this mean for your organization?

What jobs and careers look like has changed significantly over the last few decades. In previous generations people decided what they wanted to do for a career, went to school and then got hired into a position they likely stay in until they retired. At that time it didn’t matter as much if they were passionate about their work, many just put in the hours. Now, millennials, those born between 1980 and 1995, are more likely to look for work they find meaningful. According to an online survey (conducted by Legerweb on behalf of ServiceNow) of more than 1,500 Canadian office workers, 47 per cent of millennial respondents would give up a pay raise for more meaningful work.

Who are Millennials?

Millennials are more than just a group of people who happen to be born approximately between 1980 and 1995. Millennials are the first generation to become adults after the year 2000. They grew up in a world that was rapidly changing due to the rise in technology and they became adults, and entered the workforce as the career climate was changing – and specifically as long term full-time careers were taking a back seat to short-term, project-based, freelance gigs.

What we often hear about millennials is the problems they’re causing for the previous generations. They’re seen as troublemakers, people who are always attached to technology – taking ‘selfies’ and pictures of their food. But judging the younger generations is not a new phenomenon, it’s just shared differently because of the access we have to technology. Of course in the 1950 and 60s the older generations thought Rock and Roll was a disgrace but they weren’t writing articles about it.

But what are millennials exactly? I would say they’re passionate. Because of the change they grew up with they’re adaptable and embrace the importance of learning new things. Prosper’s online survey of 1,000 Canadians found that respondents in the millennial age bracket spent an average of 50 hours developing a new skill in the past year, compared to an overall average of 15 hours. This is not only due to an eagerness to learn and grow, but out of necessity to stay competitive given the pace of technological advances.

So, millennials are great workers when you’re able to tap into something the meaning they are attempting to achieve.

What Does Meaningful Work Mean to Millennials?

Of course, judging previous generations for not looking for meaning in their work is unfair. Everyone is looking for meaning in their lives, but what that meaning looks like appears to have changed for millennials given the changing nature of the modern workplace environment – including the increasing advent of remote and flexible work environments.

A strategic intelligence firm surveyed 1,000 millennials in three American cities regarding their relationship with work. The results showed millennials value making an impact on the world that’s broader than just providing for their families, which was previously the number one goal for earlier generations. Also, it appears that more young people are prioritizing passion over money and other benefits when it comes to their work.

So, What Does This All Mean?

We shouldn’t be so quick to judge the younger generations, and have no choice but to embrace the change! Technology has allowed us to look at work differently and be more creative in our solutions to problems. The world would never change if the previous generations always made the same decisions as the previous ones. Change may not always be easy but it is exciting.

So, let’s embrace millennials and the new ideas they bring to the table and the ways in which they are changing the workforce for the better.

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