Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about these people we call millennials. Namely, the current generation, Generation Y, those “entitled, narcissists who still live with their parents”, according to Keith Wagstaff. From complimentary to derisive, countless writers have deemed it their duty to predict exactly what this generation will add or (as most reports warn) detract from our current society. But the truth is, nothing has been said about the “Me, me, me generation” that hasn’t been said about every generation before them.
Elspeth Reeve’s article “Every, Every, Every Generation Has Been the Me, Me, Me Generation” takes us back through the decades by way of cover stories to illustrate that every former generation has feared the entitled, self indulgent, lazy generation crawling after them. (Although, if you were the first generation predicted to make less money than your parents, you might decide to be a little lazy too.) In the 60’s, parents feared the radical, draft card burners who simply wanted peace in the wake of a great high. In the “Me” decade of the 70’s, the post-war youth were too busy “navel-gazing”. The indulged, rich kids of Yuppiedom took care of the 80’s, and flannel-clad, angsty nihilists who turned on and tuned out to the likes of Reality Bites and Natural Born Killers ruled the 90’s. So how bad could the abbreviation obsessed self-promoters be? (Insert emoji here.)
In reality, of course there are extremes of the millennial stereotype that merit apprehension. Have you seen Rich Kids of Instagram? I mean some of them might not even know what cursive is, but their nuances just might help businesses create more positive, innovative workplaces. And here’s three reasons why, because millennial like “listicles” (articles in list format).
- They love co-working spaces and places – They don’t like the claustrophobic cubicle life. Millennials don’t want to be constrained to an 8×8 cage. They want to be able to work where they want, in whatever type of chair/standing desk/beanbag ottoman that suits their creative fancy. Millennials want to collaborate with their co-workers in close proximity. They prefer to be at long tables surrounded by people and new, inspiring ideas. And these ideas are the exact fuel that is driving the current co-working craze in the entrepreneurial communities and even some established corporations across the country. There is a renewed focus on collaboration, creativity and productivity in the workplace (“Three Things ‘Mad Men’ Can Teach Your Startup”). This is the spirit that has fueled entrepreneurship through the ages. Entrepreneurs love co-working spaces because it allows all idea people to collaborate in one central space in order to share ideas and break through problems plaguing one or more of the group. Startups realize the utility in allowing their co-workers to move freely throughout their place of business, wherever the productivity ebb and flow takes them. Millennials are the perfect creatures to take this freedom, and do with it just want entrepreneurs do—create. Besides, when there are only three people in a company to begin with (as happens in early stage companies), there’s no time or space for people who need their cubicle alone time.
- They hate standard work hours –Millennials don’t do well with these things we call “normal work hours”, also referred to as the nine to five. They want to be able to adapt their work hours to whenever they feel they will be the most productive. If 8 a.m. doesn’t work for them, they want the freedom to start around 10 and get down to work. They care more about getting the job done than worrying about the required eight hours. If they stay on top of their objectives and deadlines, should it matter when they come in? This is exactly what entrepreneurs need: People who are there to be as productive and active as can be. Startups don’t have time to waste on people sitting around aimlessly until they’re finally in the zone. Get in if you’re on, and get out if you’re not. Startups’ hours are erratic. When you’re the only ones keeping a company alive, work doesn’t just stop at 5 p.m. because the norm says so. Stable work hours and entrepreneurship have never coincided together, so entrepreneurs need people in their venture who can adapt to this chaos. They need millennials who thrive on all-nighters, and accept 3 a.m. brainstorms as typical Tuesdays. Startups need employees who know exactly when and how they can get their objectives done without the platitudes of arriving at 8 a.m.
- They’re motivated more by mission than money – Young adults at the beginning of their careers these days want to know they’re part of a company or organization that stands for something. They want to know they’re part of something that stands behind its mission and values. This does not mean they will work for free. Or for pizza (well, maybe some). But millennials are swayed to a job where they can get behind the culture of the organization. Entrepreneurs can click their heels for such specimens who are willing to follow and believe in a dream as whole-heartedly as the entrepreneur does, because, when starting out, the dream is about all an entrepreneur has to firmly stand on. The important part is most startups put company culture very high on their list of priorities in the workplace, and so do millennials. Startups want to create a place that cares about their associates and their clients in a familial manner that inspires everyone to work for the greater good of the company. With millennials hungry to know the big picture of the company they work for, there’s a refreshed importance on what organizations stand for and what they are ultimately trying to accomplish. Hiring millenials is another step in preserving that culture that entrepreneurs need to continue their mission on the road of growth.
The youth, who have yet to realize the vast size and complexity of the world beyond themselves, will always find ways to pester the older generations who look down on them from the perch of wiser years. But these new ones, these social media mavens and tech rats, might be just perfect for a subculture that doesn’t follow the norms of workplace etiquette or enterprise structure. This generation might be just what the entrepreneurial ecosystem needs to expand its ability to change the world one company at a time.
Disclaimer: The author is a millennial who has since posted a selfie of her writing this article and Instagrammed it for posterity.