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Millennials Work For Purpose, Not Paycheck

Fulfillment at work, fulfillment at home... Millennials want it all and they want it fast. Unlike many Moderns, Millennials want to be home for dinner, and want to feel like their 9-5 job has a real purpose. They are constantly seeking purpose in what they do for a living and at the same time want to know how their job is helping them get to the top. They're constantly questioning where they are going next and why. That is, which position they will hold next. If your organization can’t tell them that, they’ll seek out another firm that will.

This was written with Sienna Zampino.

In the 80s and early 90s, many of the white collar workers of the financial world, like myself, were very much motivated by share price. Many of us worked very hard to get the share price up. Our incomes were often central to how we defined our value and our lives. You might remember the bumper sticker, "He Who Dies With the Most Toys Wins".

Fast forward two decades and you notice that Millennials are concerned with other things. Money is important and they do enjoy making it, however, they long to be part of something bigger than themselves. The workplace doesn't define them to the degree that it did for too many Boomers. Millennials want to lead a balanced life. They want to be happy at home and happy on the job - money is somewhat secondary.

Giving your young employees a purpose will enable them to envision a future with your company. Young people are fickle. They are on an endless search for happiness. If an organization is unable to map out a road plan, a purpose of employment, it will unfortunately notice a high 0-2 year turnover. Millennials need direction and meaning, an interesting mixture of altruism and self-interest.

Millennials are loyal to a job rather than an employer. This is partly a response to their parents sometimes being loyal to a firm that would often lay them off without hesitation when times got rough. A Vice President friend of mine got laid off two weeks ago by a big multinational. When I talked to him that day he reflected that he had always told headhunters when they called, he was loyal to the firm, right after he said that his voice cracked as he realized what he had just said about the firm that fired him that very day.

The Millennials have learned this lesson well, "Why be loyal to an organization that doesn't return that loyalty when the chips are down?" They are ambitious and expect their employers to identify a clear-cut path towards future growth. Promotions, whether they include more money or not, equate to growth. When the path is non-existent or too entangled, the company becomes less alluring.

Integration is an important factor in keeping Millennials. While 63% of young professionals believe that employers successfully integrate young talent, only 31% of new graduates feel that companies properly integrate new employees. Poor communication is often the underlying cause. Onboarding programs are essential to launching a young person’s career. Orientation provides a clear sense of the company’s purpose, mission, value and goals and where an individual fits in the grand scheme of things.

Often Millennials are incredibly self-assured about their career potential. Their confidence only becomes swayed when their employer fails to provide them with a vision. Imagine an airplane halted on the tarmac. The passengers are seated, the baggage is stowed and the engines are running. The pilot is merely waiting for the signal to go. This is exactly how Millennials feel, arriving at an organization with a hazy vision of the future, but a clear desire to move forward. The message, however, signaling approval for departure and the destination, must come from somewhere. The pilot cannot leave without mission control’s guidance. If their plane remains halted, passengers will return to the hanger and jump on another plane.