Some call them Generation Y or the Net Generation, but the most common label for people born between about 1982 and 2004 is Millennial, a term that describes the largest age group in American history, at over 80 million people. Millennials in the workplace, then, range from those just starting their careers at 22 years old to those who are about a dozen years in (at 36).
Ask around, and you’re likely to hear some not-so-great opinions about Millennials. They’re narcissistic and entitled. They’ve been sheltered and coddled. They’re hooked on technology and love selfies and social media.
Yet, Millennials are perhaps the most unique generation to date and have many incredible traits when you make the effort to look beyond the generalizations. Here are five lessons to learn from this fascinating generation:
1. Teamwork isn’t just important in business. It’s essential. Many researchers call Millennials the generation of natural collaborators, marked by people who believe in working together over working in silos. They like making decisions as a team, drawing opinions and ideas from all members. Because they are generally creative and innovative, Millennials see listening to their peers as an essential part of any project and the best way to learn and grow.
2. There are unmet needs everywhere you turn. Millennials are the most entrepreneurial generation in history, with innovation being a core personality trait. According to the BNP Paribas 2016 Global Entrepreneur Report, Millennials are starting more companies at an earlier age than Baby Boomers. Some of that can be chalked up to their general tech-savviness, but “Millennipreneurs” start businesses in traditional sectors as well as those in the new economy.
3. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. This group of professionals is eager to advance in their careers and seemingly undeterred by the prospect of failure. In their career and entrepreneurial adventures, they don’t see obstacles as much as opportunities. Millennials are known for their boundless optimism.
4. It’s better to be happy than rich. In the grind of work and life, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters and what led you down a career path in the first place. Many Millennials seek out passionate endeavors, blending their desire to disrupt and/or make a difference and their goal to satisfy their curiosity. According to the Brookings Institution report, “How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America,” 64 percent of Millennials said they’d rather than $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring.
5. Businesses can and should make a positive impact. When it comes to important values in business, Millennials place a high priority on making a positive impact on society and the environment. In the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey, respondents shared their belief that business success should be measured in terms of more than financial performance, but also helping solve society’s economic, social and environmental challenges of the day.
Making up more than one-quarter of the U.S. population, Millennials have changed America as we know it. They are educated. They are hardworking and business-minded. They are open-minded, socially responsible and empathetic. They take risks in hopes that their efforts will yield that next great idea and make a lasting impact. Without question, Millennials have many valuable assets and have reshaped the business world.