Ambitious. Independent. Structured. Confident.
These are Millennials, and they are your new co-workers. Since 2000, Millennials have been pouring into the marketplace and will continue to do so until about 2025. But they’re doing it in a completely different style than previous generations.
In a culture where the “American dream” is the ideal goal to achieve, Millennials are brining new goals and methods with them as they leave college and join the working ranks.
Millennials’ main focus is not on making money, although good, adequate compensation for their efforts is important to them. What trumps salary amount is working for companies that encourage a healthy balance between work and other parts of life. Family ties and other relationships are extremely important to Millennials and they don’t want jobs getting in the way of that.
Millennials will work hard and be dedicated to a job, but they don’t want the job to control their lives, which are centered on relationships. Many in previous generations have found their identity in their jobs, but Millennials desire to be defined by other avenues and want to have meaningful lives outside of their work.
Part of this is due to the 9-11 tragedy. The older part of the generation was about age 10 to 21 when the terror attacks happened. As they saw the towers fall, they were given a dose of reality, a dose of “life is short and people matter.” This has defied this generation, and now that Millennials are in the workforce, they want to be part of companies that make a difference in the world and ones that support the priorities of family and friends.
Because of that, Millennials are willing to stand up against the status quo that might be taking place in their workplace. They aren’t necessarily focused on protecting their jobs. They aren’t looking at staying at one company for the rest of their working days. They want to see progress within their companies and are willing to stand up for change or their priorities even when it might be difficult or cost them their jobs. They are ambitious and about making life count.
Flexibility in a job also is extremely important to Millennials. This plays into the importance they place on relationships. They want to be able to do a good job at work. And they love a challenge, but not at the sacrifice of family or friends.
When polled by Thom and Jess Rainer in The Millennials study, eight out of 10 Millennials said they desired a job with some level of a flexible schedule. This doesn’t mean the flexible hours have to come each week, but because relationships trump everything in their lives, Millennials want to work for a company that will periodically let them move their work hours around without being penalized. They aren’t asking for a hand out. They will work hard, but they desire flexibility.
Millennials also like to have a good time, whether that be with friends or in the workplace. Their work style is not of formality and soft-spoken conversations. Millennials have the mentality that “Life is too short to not have fun” (back to the 9-11 reasoning), and it falls within their work responsibilities too. Part of this is that Millennials know that fun times build relationships, and relationships are a life foundation for them.
But though they value a fun work atmosphere, they also value structure and good feedback from leadership and coworkers. Because Millennials are so relational and focused on keeping good family ties, they work well with other generations in the workplace and they desire to have positive, collaborative connections with these coworkers.
So what does this mean for the church? What does this mean for Christ followers?
Quite a bit.
As stated before, Millennials are all about authentic relationships. Many times, they want to be mentored by those who are ahead of them in life. Though they are ambitious, they want people to walk along with them, give them feedback, and take part in the journey with them.
For those who are not Millennials, knowing about their work traits and desires can help you encourage them and work with them well in your job setting. If you are in a church with them, it can help you utilize their talents and ambitions and help them find a great place to serve within the church.
Remember that Millennials want to change the world and that they are ambitious. They want to make the world a better place, so as a church, provide opportunities for Millennials to function well and serve well.
And it’s not just about connecting with Millennials at church. Less than one-fourth of Millennials are in church each week. So learning how to relate to a Millennial in the work place could make your office a wonderful mission field. Take advantage of the potential relationship placed before you each day.
If you are supervising a Millennial at your office or job right now, be a learner of Millennials. Ask them questions. Observe how they handle situations. Be willing to hear their suggestions on how to make your office a more creative, collaborative and fun place to work.
Rather than being frustrated that Millennials function in a different paradigm than many other generations, embrace their ambition and focus on relationships. Take the information shared here and let it bring some understanding about the generation.
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