It was only yesterday I defended Millennials as the most "socially conscious and justice focused generation that has ever lived." This hyperbolic statement was fueled by my passion for the democratizing potential of technology. But then, when researching e-commerce trends for 2017, I came across a study that made me rethink that position.
The study, from Deloitte, focuses on the attitudes of Millennials in the workplace.
I am just barely a Millennial, born in 1985. Middle school was defined by AOL CD-Roms and the sound of a dial-up modem; high school quickly transitioned to Napster (headquartered in my hometown!) and clunky Nokia cell phones.
But, still, a Millennial I am, and I have many of the character traits. It's well known at this point that Millennials care. They love their Warby Parker and ethical consumption. I definitely overspend on organic food. (And, as we'll discuss below, I have actually left jobs because of ethical concerns - many of which, as I look back at my youth, were entirely unfounded and ridiculous. Hi, my name is Kristin, and I'm a virtue signaler.)
All of this I know, and embrace or reject to varying degrees - both in myself and culture at large. But what the Deloitte survey said is that when it comes to work, what Millennials really value, above all else, is how they are treated.
That, that was surprising to me.
Millennials appear collective - concerned about the greater good - but what the survey results indicate is that they are actually highly individualistic.
In fact, in the Deloitte study, when asked about the "level of influence different factors have on their decision making at work," Millennials ranked first their own personal values and morals, and ranked last the impact on colleagues.
Millennials are also disloyal. As I admitted, I have quit jobs due to ethical concerns. But was it really me making a stand, or a new archetypal trait manifesting itself? Deloitte says that the majority of Millennials expect to leave their jobs within a few years. And the reason? Their "leadership skills are not being developed." They don't feel their skills are being put to "full use."
Well, who's responsibility is it to develop the Millennials? Does one learn to lead by begging to follow? Does one do well by demanding accolades through ultimatums? Or is this blame-everyone, quit-quickly, socially-acceptable-temper-tantrum actually an effect of the coddling of the American mind?
Without shared common goals, can we ever build successful companies with real market longevity? If employees actively refuse to place the mission of their workplace above their own personal ethics, isn't that actual sabotage? And whom do they hurt?
Millennials hate capitalism - but we need it. Corporations fund non-profit organizations and NGOs that do the good work in the world through their foundations and giving. It is also capitalism that pays taxes that are redistributed, but Millennials hate socialism, too.
What do they like, then, exactly, expect for themselves?