What the Millennials Know

By Andrea Belk Olson, MSC and CEO of Pragmadik

Andrea writes original articles across a spectrum of topics, providing unique insights to leadership, technology, marketing, business development, and communications.

There’s one question I get the most frequently on millennials. It’s this:

Why do they move from city to city and change jobs every few years?

Everyone has their theory. Some people blame it on youth. Or the lack of attention spans due to social media. Or unrealistic expectations and dissatisfaction with not advancing in an organization fast enough. Or to simply gain new experiences. There’s no question these are influential factors, but inherently, there’s one, singular underlying reason:

Identity preservation.

Every new generation develops and creates their own identity. Hippies in the 60’s, Yuppies in the 80’s, Hipsters in the 2010’s. This rebellion from the mainstream helped establish their identity and individuality at a time in their lives of discovery. Today’s millennials are no different.

This outlook and attitude is also heavily influenced by what they’ve seen and experienced as they grew up. Observing their parents and peers, and making active decisions on what behavior they want to mimic and what they want to avoid. (We all can think back to a time where we said to ourselves, “I’m never going to do that!”, even if we possibly, humbly went back on that promise.)

As millennials move into the workforce, they enter with aspirations, a bundle of ideas, and the belief that they can change the world. And many organizations are ill-equipped to channel and harness that energy. They focus on getting new employees to drink the corporate “kool-aid”. Become part of the organizational culture. Blend into the existing behaviors and mindsets.

Millennials see it another way. They want to learn and make an impact, but they don’t want to become part of a hive mind. While it’s important for an organization to function uniformly and have a common vision, it doesn’t mean employees need to lose their individual identities. (Think Zappos.com, where employees are encouraged to utilize their own level of “human touch”.)

So how do millennials respond to organizations they join that try to assimilate them into the status quo?

  1. Millennials will move and change to avoid groupthink.
  2. Millennials have lived in an environment with quick access to information and feedback, and will remove themselves from organizations that function at a slower pace.
  3. Millennials are used to constant change and will leave organizations resistant to change.
  4. Millennials have high expectations with regards to communication, and will seek organizations which allow them to voice opinions and actively respond to implement and test new ideas.

So are these expectations really out of line? Is it a bad idea to bring in new ideas and perspectives into an organization and help them flourish? Fostering a culture of change? Or has your organization become culturally complacent because business is profitable? Something to consider, as the next transformative business idea just might come out of the mouths of babes.

About the Author

Andrea’s 20-year, field-tested background provides unique, applicable approaches to creating leaner, more effective, technology-driven, industrial organizations. A 4-time ADDY® award-winner, she began her career at a tech start-up and led the strategic marketing efforts at two global industrial manufacturers.

In addition to writing, consulting and coaching, Andrea speaks to leaders and industry organizations around the world on how to craft an effective customer-facing operational strategies to discover new sources of revenues and savings. Connect with Andrea to access information on her book, workshops, keynote speeches, training or consulting. More information is also available on www.pragmadik.com and www.nodisruptions.com.