And Its Affect on The Way We Do Business
You know there is a disruption in the American business landscape when Forbes has written more than 60 articles on the same topic: millennials. Gallup’s chairman and CEO, Jim Clifton, even went as far as to say that millennials are altering the very social fabric of America and the world. A huge generational gap in the workplace has caused a seemingly insurmountable schism in the workforce. However, the solution is actually much simpler than most people think: Millennials want purpose, and baby boomers and Generation Xers must adjust to this and make it part of their business paradigm.
But let us back it up. Who are the millennials and what makes them different? Millennials are the generation of individuals born between 1982-2002. They value personal growth, freedom and global impact. They are the most influential generation in the history of the United States. This is because they represent the largest generation with a population of approximately 83 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And most importantly, their spending habits are transforming our entire economy, not just our workplaces.
What makes this generation different from its predecessors is that the environment in which millennials were born is vastly different from all previous generations. This is due to the rapid advancement of our society and moving up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a scale that describes the stages of human growth based on different motivations. Our society has progressed to the point that our most basic physiological and safety needs have been pretty much met for anyone born in the United States after 1982. No longer are generations fueled by the need for safety, belonging or self-esteem. The motivations they use for filtering decisions in their lives evolved to fulfilling the highest level on the hierarchy: self-actualization. In other words, uncovering, and then actualizing, purpose.
So, what is this purpose we need to uncover and make a reality? Purpose is the “why” behind every decision made, the meaning that drives us to wake up in the morning, and the mission greater than oneself. Humans have been on a pursuit of purpose since the beginning of time, but along the way, as we made incredible advancements as a species, we lost sight of why we innovated in the first place.
As society advances, so does the narrative of what is known and true. Millennials were taught at an early age that they can do anything they put their minds to and not to settle for anything they do not want. The only reason these concepts were drilled into the minds of millennial children was due to the abundance created by the technological progress made by prior generations. Abundance in food, shelter and self-esteem set millennials up for an outlook shaped around the idea that anything is possible. And that is because now, more than ever, anything really is possible. This mindset has shifted the method and process by which millennials choose to live and add value in the world. This generation is at the height of entrepreneurship; instead of finding organizations to adhere and belong to, they are creating their own organizations, challenging traditional assumptions and demanding something deeper. This mindset is present in every human being, but millennials were born in a time when they can actually focus on fulfilling these higher-level needs.
These factors, paired with the influence of growing up during an economic recession, have changed the values, beliefs and motivations of this generation. We are seeing these changes in economic trends such as the sharing economy (AirBnB), the giving economy (TOMS), the maker economy (YouTube) and many more. Simply stated, millennials have the innate capacity to value things higher on the hierarchy of needs, which has ushered in a new era of how business is conducted.
Ready to get on board with this movement?
Baby Boomer and Generation X business owners have the power, wisdom and capital to transform their companies and take advantage of this profound opportunity. They are in the driver’s seat of change, as long as they can embrace this new way of thinking.
This starts with asking questions around everything you hear, say, think and do. This thinking is centered around meaning and is what millennials crave more than anything else. The key to finding meaning is getting clear on purpose and aligning it with everything we do. If you can embrace purpose and make it work for your team, you will activate a community of people that will lead and thrive in this new, emerging economy — the purpose economy.
Alexandria Agresta, the co-founder of Purpose Pioneers, believes that when we find meaning in our work, we experience real-time fulfillment. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and @purposepioneers on the socials.