Should we care about Millennials?

In the war for talent, caring is everything. Caring is the drive that keeps the engine running, even at the toughest times. Caring means you will have an ability to be selfless and put yourself in the shoes of the other side.

Sara, are you talking talent or relationships?

Both really, or is talent not all about relationships and people? When seeking to build, grow or retain a dream team, it is not just about you, but about them. It is not about how you view the world, but about how people view you and the team and the organization. It is not about what you want – but what your potential employees (or former employees) want.

There is an utmost need of seeing the world through different lenses. It is key for growth. I challenge whether people can do this. Naturally the needs of any business need to come first, and especially in smaller organizations the needs for survival come ahead of any others. But in the presence of great opportunity, there is a red ocean of competition for talent and it just keeps getting more crowded.

Are you going to talk Millennials Sara, really?

Maybe, or maybe not. Arguably, I am one of them. In reality, the world is just a faster place today and what would take years to achieve in one’s career is now just more accessible to the ones starting up. Growth can be reflected in money, promotion or learning but the underlying desire of it has not altered in this generation. People want to grow. The way in which this expresses itself may have morphed.

In the past, people may have eaten sh*t for longer. Know that you have to put the hours. Wait for the next stretch assignment. And trust the system. The leaders of today have done this and they are great, especially in large organisations. They do however believe that is the only way. Because it worked. And no other way makes sense.

It is unclear to me that the shift is purely a Millennial vs Gen X or Baby Boomers. It is more likely to be an overall acceleration of what we have had in the last 50 years. Furthermore it is also unlikely that it will slow down any time soon. Technology has made the world more connected, made digital nomads a thing, automated much of the entry levels original tasks. Not only jobs progress faster but also the world around us is faster.

But is it true? Has anything changed with Millennials?

A lot of this is about perception. There is a greater perception of opportunity than there ever was before. If you buy Mark Manson’s argument that people prefer to be at the far end of the bell curve (whatever that end is) than there is an argument to believe that people are more risk embracing than ever before.

No more long 20 year careers, no sweat equity for the long run. No more for stability of large organizations. Let’s jump ship and try something new now. Why not now? With the amount of opportunities around and the lack of visibility on the roads ahead on more stable organizations, it is hard to stay still. People look for mobility opportunities within companies and when that does not work or does the trick, outside it is.

There is an argument to say that mobility could solve it as long as it is real and meaningful and provides people with the chance to truly experience and make a difference in a new job. But there is also the argument to say that mobility is more and more hindering people from having meaningful experiences as the moment they get to a job they are unto the next one. I am undecided. In fact I am a product of mobility, and proud. And I am certain that has increased my loyalty.

Again, the conflict of interest is always going to be stronger. Rare managers will put their best people forward for opportunities that help them grow in other places away from them. It is more common than not that managers are incentivized to put forward people for mobility that indeed should be on the way out. No wonder then they really leave.


Fear of Missing Out is the other factor that accelerates this generation and how they (or we) see a career. Again I believe this has accelerated in the face of globalization and the creation of new breed of large companies that now stay private for longer and have growth ambitions (and offer equity in return).

Many people have sought different avenues for their careers, changing businesses, industries or just companies. However, the pace of change seems more accelerated. The truth is the high performers always had lots of opportunities but they would not necessarily hit on them. But because again of the bell curve proclamation on social media and the widespread myth of those that made it, people feel like they have to try it or they will miss out on it forever.

I question how much the opportunities have changed but I certainly see them as more accessible on a global basis, and certainly creating higher levels of anxiety and pressure to move to the next thing.

Portfolio Careers

That is a thing as well, a bit like digital nomads is a thing. It can be two-fold. It can be a set of careers within an organization (go back to the mobility point above if you skipped it). It reflects exposure to different businesses, regions, roles. It focuses on skillset transfer rather than product expertise. And goes against most of what existing leaders base their success on.

The other side of portfolio careers is for many of those that leave steady careers and then decide to embark on a multitude of things, joining a start-up, being on a Board and founding a non profit. All within the space of 6 months. It is not uncommon and many may add a trek to the Himalayas in there on their way back from saving the world in a remote place. I am not being cynical, this is indeed a thing, and one that I can’t help but see the appeal of.

I have myself chosen to take a portfolio career, both inside my organization and outside it as well, so can’t speak much about the approach. My only focus is that it is not consumed my FOMO and it is indeed based on choices of things that I am passionate about.

Values Persist

What many may fail to realize, is not that Millennials have different passions these days, and money does not matter. People just accumulate earlier a broader set of passions that perhaps has only hit previous generations on their 50s. People still want to make money, solid money over time and not all concentrated, with a decent chance of upside. They also still want to spend time with family and watch kids grow, rather than having time when they are going off to university. And they have a desire to make a change and contribute to their community, but they no longer want to wait until they are financially comfortable to do it.

These are values that have been upheld through generations, but the Millenials (or we) just seem to value it sooner than before. FOMO, maybe? Whatever it is, can’t be ignored.

Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

One comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.