The days of spending 20 years within the walls of a cubicle are gone. Climbing the corporate ladder is a thing of the past. And job loyalty is dead.
Millennials, who now make up the largest generation in the U.S., aren’t content to follow the same old career paths as their parents. We want to nix the corporate bullshit, in favor of office kegs, pool tables, and air hockey. We want a sense of purpose, a company we believe in, and opportunities to learn and grow. And if we don’t get what we want – we leave.
But we don’t feel guilty for demanding more. After all, Millennials are the most educated generation in history. We grew up in the midst of a digital era, and consequently, we’re the only generation that doesn’t have to adapt to new technologies. This gives Millennials the greatest ability to navigate modern platforms like the internet, mobile devices/tablets, and social media. But Millennials aren’t asking for more money.
In fact, a recent study found that Millennials would take an average pay cut of $7,800 to improve our career development with a better work-life balance, better company culture, or work that more closely aligns with our values or passions.
Rather than money, Millennials are asking for something more meaningful. According to the extensive Gallup report, How Millennials Want to Work and Live, we instead demand that our careers provide us with purpose.
"For millennials, compensation is important and must be fair, but it's no longer the driver. The emphasis for this generation has switched from paycheck to purpose," the report says. By purpose, we want to work somewhere we love and on something we love to do. We want to make a fundamental contribution to a cause we wholeheartedly believe in.
"Millennials are definitely shaking things up," says Alan Blashaw, founder of EquityOwl, a platform that allows startups to trade equity for top talent. "They seem to love clarity and transparency. They want to know how their job and skills ultimately contribute to the larger vision of the company. This, more than the dollar amount of their paycheck, defines their self-perception of value,” he says.
But this endless search for a fulfilling career is perceived as destructive selfishness. Millennials are changing jobs more than any other generation. We move freely from company to company, earning ourselves the derogatory title of "job hoppers." Estimates indicate that Millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.
In fact, 21 percent of millennials say they've changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials. And young workers who haven’t job-hopped are probably planning on doing it soon. As many as 60 percent of Millennials are open to a new job opportunity, the highest percentage among all generations in the workplace. This willingness to dip out comes from a fundamental generational difference in allegiance to our companies.
Loyalty to our employers may have been a highly favored trait in our parent's job market, but young adults between the ages of 21 and 36 no longer feel attached to institutions. We think about our jobs as more of stepping stones and opportunities for growth. And we simply won’t commit our livelihood to an undeserving institution.
“Millennials value organizations that have personalities,” Blashaw tells Fox Business. “A company with a personality seems more trustworthy, both toward the employee and consumer, than a faceless corporation [does]."
And companies with charisma are springing up all over the place. Millennials’ willingness to switch jobs and companies presents a substantial attraction opportunity for businesses. And no one is seizing that opportunity more than start-ups.
Start-up companies are on the rise, and these small operations are making a point to allure Millennials with a freedom-based work culture — perks like increased autonomy, casual dress codes, and flexible hours.
In large part, Millennials are making their way into technology and internet start-ups that embrace the products of the Innovation Age, like 3-D printing, self-driving cars, and cybersecurity. However, health start-ups and media/entertainment companies are attracting a large number of young adults, as well.
According to Blashaw, hiring managers are adapting to the Millennial mindset.
"Hiring and recruiting are definitely adjusting to address these priorities,” he says. “You'll notice that many company recruitment pages have opted to use less formal language. This makes a company seem more personable and friendly. This even extends to the interview, where questions have evolved to create more of a conversation than an interrogation."
In the past, applying for a job meant focusing on what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you. But Millennials are turning the tables, and finally asking, “What’s in it for me?”
We’re educated, we’re ambitious, and thanks to the internet, we’re ever-aware of the wealth of job openings available to us. While millennials can come across as wanting more and more, the reality is that we just want a job that feels worthwhile – and we’ll keep looking until we find it.
We haven’t lost hope in The American Dream. We’ve just redefined it.