The Corporate Shift: How Millennials Are Changing the World
To understand the changes that are taking place in the workplace, one important factor to consider is the different generations. There are always exceptions to the rule, but I am referring to some general characteristics of a few generations that had an impact in the business world.
My parents’ generation—mostly baby boomers—were raised, for the most part, to follow a very clear, straight path. That path was to get an education, get married, and find a decent job to pay the bills. Many of them had the same job for more than 20 years and retired. They mostly viewed their “jobs” as just a means to make money and they did not question whether it was fulfilling or not. This was life as it was defined for them. It was selfish to think otherwise. They worked for money, and were respectful of and obedient to authority. They were grateful to have a job, especially one that many would desire. This was the mindset at the time. The companies gave them a feeling of stability; they invested in their people and were relatively loyal. Their generation also fought for some human rights and paved the way for a better world. I am grateful for that.
My generation started asking deeper questions. Is there a better life somewhere else? Do I feel fulfilled in my job where I spend 40-50 hours a week? How on earth am I supposed to act differently at work and in my personal life? Is this the life I want? It did not always feel right just to have a job. We started looking for fulfillment in our lives. The conventional path did not satisfy us. We started taking more risks. It was painful for our parents to watch us leave “stable” jobs as they saw it just because we did not find enough meaning or because our values were conflicting with the company goals.
In the meantime, some corporations started changing too. When they were striving to be the best place to work, proud to offer the best salaries, and hiring and retaining the most qualified employees, at some point, they decided to only pay attention to their shareholders. They lost touch with their clients and their employees. Employees became merely numbers or machines. They forgot that the only things that matter are human beings; the people working for them, the people who will buy their services, and their communities. They stopped being inspiring and felt like their employees needed them more than they did. It started becoming very easy to let go of people. Many of us experienced in many occasions that getting rid of office furniture in an office was harder to get rid of than employees. Even when businesses genuinely had to downsize to survive (I am not denying businesses exist to make money and there are times you need to let people go), they forgot to acknowledge their employees for all their hard work and accomplishments. People were treated like stuff.
The only things that matter are human beings; the people working for them, the people who will buy their services, and their communities.
My generation also started to become more conscious. Since we cared about the big questions, questioned meaning of life, and felt like we didn’t matter in many of the places we worked at, we raised our children to be different. First of all, we did not want them to make decisions to make us happy. To make sure they followed their own path, we gave them unconditional love no matter what they chose to do. They did not feel like they needed to please us for approval. We wanted them to make their own decisions, and realize their own value. We did not want them to feel like we did at work.
Now, unfortunately many are quick to judge Millennials. Some company executives label them “entitled.” “How come these kids leave so quickly when they find a better opportunity for themselves?” “They must be thinking only about themselves.” I wonder if we have a right to criticize them when these same companies cannot promise even one more day of job security. Is there any incentive to stay loyal? When they feel like they are being treated like numbers or witness their colleagues being laid off, what are they expected to do?
We are not talking about the ones who quit just because they are bored. We are talking about the young people who are passionate about starting their careers. Some are made to feel like they don’t matter right from the start. Good leadership, who can inspire them (there are more and more amazing and very successful companies that do this) and cultivate their talents and creativity, would greatly reduce the turnover rate. These kids watched their parents getting laid off more than once. They saw how it made them feel worthless. Rightfully so, they do not want to go through the same experiences themselves. They want to have more control of their careers and feel empowered. They want to change things more than my generation did. They do not think they have to tolerate everything. We don’t want them to be quitters. We want them to be fighters. But they also have a point.
Good leadership, who can inspire them and cultivate their talents and creativity, would greatly reduce the turnover rate.
Unfortunately, many of us have watched executives, out of touch with their markets and what customers want and clueless how to motivate their employees, make bad decisions over and over again. It only results in more suffering for their employees. In these companies, we see passionate people with crushed souls. These companies do not know how to recognize and use real talent. Brilliant young minds do not want to stay in environments like this. They do not want to pay the price for bad decisions outside of their control. They have to think about their own futures when they feel the company has no interest in them.
There is great news though! There are some wonderful companies emerging that are changing the workplace. They really understand the value of their people and the impact a business can have in their communities and in the world. They are getting rid of the hierarchy. They know that only employees who are free to express themselves and do what they love will make them successful. They are creating environments where the company, the people, their community, and the customers can all win. They know they are dealing with human beings all around and that it is the most important thing that matters. They are conscious, authentic, and have a higher purpose than only making a profit.
We don’t want them to be quitters. We want them to be fighters. But they also have a point.
I hope our kids find places like this to work or create more of these types of businesses on their own. I am really curious to see what will happen in old school companies that are not willing to embrace the change. They have no loyalty and young people don’t see why they should be loyal either. I just don’t know how this will work. I hope to see more and more companies making the shift. I love being part of this positive change that is taking place in the workplace because I know this is the right thing to do for all of us. We can change the world, one business at a time.
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