One of the best ways to get a group of HR professionals talking is to bring up Millennials. Everyone has an opinion about what makes this generation different from older generation. But, what do Millennials think makes them different?
Loyalty to Community Over Loyalty to Company
Aaron Levy, CEO of Raise the Bar Consulting, a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, and a Millennial thinks that one of the things that makes his generation different are their loyalties.
Baby Boomers are loyal to the company. This is the last generation that would benefit from pensions in any significant numbers. They grew up in an era of global tension, but free from lengthy periods of economic instability. Gen Xers, the generation just older than Millennials, are loyal to their careers. They are more willing to leave a company for a better offer. They want to invest in themselves.
But, Millennials are loyal to their community. They want to be doing work that makes the world they live in a better place. They don’t see work as something separate from their life, but as an extension of their life.
Millennials want meaningful work that makes a positive impact on the community.
History and Technology
Millennial writer Wes Gay believes that while in many ways his generation is not actually that much different from older generations, the best way to understand any generation, including Millennials, is to look at the history and technology that was developing as people came of age.
Millennials were shaped by the events of 9/11 and everything that followed as a consequence. The generation has never known a time when U.S. soldiers were not actively fighting terrorism in the Middle East. They also arrived in large numbers in the workforce during the Great Recession. These two historical events help explain many of the stereotypes of Millennials such as delaying starting a family and continuing to live at home.
The technology that Millennials grew up with also has shaped the way they see the world. They are the internet generation. They grew up with digital music. They look at the world and see the power of technology to change the world. Their experience with technology is partly responsible for their overwhelming optimism.
People Spend a Lot More Time Talking About Millennials Than Other Generations
Elizabeth Entenman, a Hello Giggles contributor, thinks that what makes Millennials different is that everyone is always talking about them.
She notes that her generation feels that everyone they come into contact with from an older generation either has a wildly positive or wildly negative opinion of Millennials. People seem less willing to take the members of this generation on individual terms.
Instead, each Millennial is saddled with all of the perceptions about his or her generation. They are seen as too sensitive or too confident. They are too independent or not independent enough. Nobody is having meetings about how to handle all of the Baby Boomers that think they know everything. There are no trainings for how to deal with the aging Gen Xers in the workplace.
Millennials are different because no other generation is as studied or talked about. Living under a microscope is bound to make you different.