Of the complaints levied against Millennials, one of the most persistent one is that they need constant praise. So let’s tackle that first, with science!
First off, according to a 2016 Gallup study, only 19% of Gen Y workers get regular feedback, but there they are, adulting along with the rest of us. Second, as demonstrated very nicely in the Harvard Business Review’s March-April 2019 The Feedback Fallacy, the truth is that nobody learns from criticism. That’s right not even the Boomers! What we learn from is specific praise about what we’ve done well, and that seems to be true of pretty much everyone. (The science I mentioned is in that article, which is well worth a read.)
Another common complaint about Millennials is that they aren’t loyal to their employers. My standard response has been to point out that employers are hardly loyal to their employees, so I hardly blame young people for not honoring a defunct social convention. But it turns out there’s more! According to Fast Company, switching jobs every couple of years actually leads to higher pay—up to 50% higher, by their reckoning. Job-changers are also often better workers who bring exciting new skills and perspectives to an organization. In other words, these younger workers are gaining skills, leaving a job feeling happy, and taking that contentment and skill set to someone else. Maybe this job-hopping isn’t so bad, after all!
When it comes to what Millennials want from work, we can start to see how this is good for all of us. For starters, according to a 2016 Deloitte study, a cornerstone of success to Gen Y workers is work-life balance. That seems like a pretty great thing to me, especially when we consider my oft-stated 120,000 annual deaths because of work in this country. (For more, see Jeffrey Pfeffer’s Dying for a Paycheck.) Additionally, this is a generation that appears to be seeking deeper meaning from work, a generation with very strong values around diversity, a flatter organizational structure, and a sense of being of value to the larger community.