Talkin’ bout my generation

by Gabriela Hersham

There’s something that has me curious of late, and that something is other people’s flagrant fascination with my generation. As if aliens from a parallel universe, it seems we are the focus of many studies — with much of the research centred around how to keep us incentivised and (more importantly) retained in the workplace. What turns us on, if you will.

Whilst by no means will I claim to be an expert on the matter (not even considering myself a particularly typical specimen), given that I work with what you might consider to be a decent sample size, I am glad to report the following findings.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present: The Millennials.

We demand answers. We reject hierarchy as a fait accompli. Informal relationships with our parents have made it next to impossible for us to build careers where we execute without question. Don’t micromanage us, bro: sell us the vision but don’t tell us how to get there. We are thought leaders. We aren’t phased by responsibility. We embrace it. Like a boss.

We need to buy in. There are three startups launched every second. Do you know what that means? We have options. We’ll stick around for as long as we believe in the mission. Having money isn’t social currency anymore, perhaps because 2008 showed us the true meaning of easy come/easy go. Our social currency is impact. Because YOLO.

We need speed. Heard of agility? Good. We expect rapid decision-making and implementation with fast iterations; anything less will see us out the door. We can respond to a need for change faster than you could tweet about it. Slow is the new fast, said no one ever.

We are CURIOUS. We’re not too proud to admit that we are constantly reinventing ourselves, outdoing ourselves, and adding new tricks to our belt. A resourceful bunch, we can teach ourselves pretty much anything. We celebrate failure as an opportunity to learn. We want to be better. We monitor our metrics. We are introspective. Healthy is the new wealthy. Legit.

We get the unknown. Our careers started in the wake of the recession. Our feet on the ground, we are frugal. Nothing is a sure thing, except that we know what to do when shit hits the fan. We’ve worked at at least one rapid-growth environment where the only constant thing was change. We get it. We like it. We thrive in it. Just saying.

A stock option or two won’t hurt, and not only because we want to have direct impact on (read: ownership in) the mission. At the end of the (long, meaningful) day, fulfilment don’t pay no bills. We’re risking our lives here, so give us a stake in the outcome. The struggle is real.

We’re used to really great workspaces. Heard of EX? It’s short for Employee Experience, which is short for don’t even think about holing me up in that cubicle. I’m not saying we need a slide that connects us to the floor below. That’s just kitsch. But a hydration station or two? Next level.

We are the generation of serial jobogamists. Some might say we were spoiled in our youths — that the digital revolution has left us with little more than a case of acute ADD with a side serving of entitlement — whilst others will argue that we are the generation that cares again. We care about purpose and we care about impact and job-hopping is just our way of searching for meaning. Whichever your belief, ignore us you can’t - for we are now the majority generation in the workforce.

Too demanding? sorrynotsorry.

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