By Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly
Millennials are being called the new Boomers, and I’m honored to be aligned with this smart, upwardly trending group. Our generations have a lot in common even though these young people face very different possibilities and challenges than I did when embarking on my career. First of all, Boomers and Millennials both face a huge competitive market. For every job application, Boomers could face thousands of other Boomers competing for the same job. Today there are even more Millennials than Boomers and they are making a lot more demands of their employers. They are being pickier, in spite of large college debt.
We Boomers grew up with dads that often stayed at the same company for their entire career. Millennials grew up in what economists call a 1099 economy, in which people work as independent contractors rather than full-time employees with benefits. Many professionals expect their next job will be at a different company. It’s a mobile society filled with opportunities that are easier to find than when I entered the work force. Job seekers can research a company’s diversity, the age and gender of their managers, their historical response to economic shifts, record of promotions and layoffs, family leave policies, and much more. People now submit job applications online and corporations screen them with computers.
Millennials Want To Be Valued at Work
Millennials know there’s more to life than money. They have a clear sense of their emotional interpersonal needs, and that includes how they want to be treated on the job. When you’re smart and you have a lot to offer, you won’t stick around if your ideas get shot down by your boss or co-workers. Millennials want management to be supportive, to use good communication skills, and to value every team member, and in order to feel fulfilled, they need to feel their contribution is valued.
And that brings me to another need that Millennials share with Boomers: purposeful work that can help improve the world and life for its people is high on the list of rewards. I don’t mean they don’t value money because after all, everyone needs money to support their lifestyle. But Millennials know that money can never make up for feeling your boss doesn’t value your work every day, for feeling unsuccessful, and for a lack of coaching and role models needed to help you advance.
Women in both generations want to follow their passion. We’ll work harder, put more thought, creativity and drive into pursuing something we’re passionate about, and feel so much better about it, than we will just to get a paycheck.
It’s exciting to see Millennials step into their work lives with such idealism and expectation. It’s also exciting to see them insist on diversity so they can work with people who look like they do. I’m seeing them work for parity for women, not only in pay, but in leadership roles—in upper management, community leadership and public service–all the areas where women still lag so far behind.
I’m confident we can accomplish this together. Millennials are a step ahead of Boomers, having been raised to honestly believe they are equal to anyone. They are well-educated, understand the latest technologies and know how to use them creatively to improve the world. Let’s reach out to support one another. Let’s learn how to work together and make tomorrow’s world an abundant, sustainable place where all of us can live.