Millennials: The Multifaceted Generation
Let’s face it, finding your identity in an ever-changing, chaotic world is challenging.Millennials, those of us born between 1980 and 1995, are in many ways a product of this chaos. And yet, the current system doesn’t always allow for our fluid identities, forcing us to decide between extremes: Liberal or Conservative? Online or offline personality? Jeans or a suit? Book or an iPad? Corporate or a startup? As a result, many Millennials face an identity crisis today – we don’t fit into one particular box or carry one clear label. We are left with a multifaceted sense of identity that confuses employers, retailers, colleagues, and most of all, ourselves.
Growing up as digital natives, we have the ability to develop a new skill set overnight, allowing us to continuously reinvent ourselves. Thanks to open source education tools like Wikipedia, Youtube, Khan Academy, Coursera and Snapseed anyone has instant access to knowledge. This has empowered the DIY generation to become instant experts, responding to workplace demands to get ourselves through rough financial times. Many of us have adopted a freelancer attitude, presenting ourselves as an expert in 3D printing one day, while creating risk allocation models or solar panel retrofits the next. I can just “google it” or tap into my social networks and tomorrow I’m your girl. But there’s a downside to all of this… The constant overload of information and compulsion to have varied stimuli seems to have paralyzed our ability to be content or stay in one place for any considerable amount of time.
The repercussions are evident. It is the era of multi-careerism, where millennials are consumed with passion projects, start-ups, and volunteer efforts – all in addition to their 9-5 job. Never ask a millennial what they do, because you’ll probably still be there 30 minutes later as they tell you about their volunteering, the Etsy shop they started, or the the latest online course they’re taking. We equate this question to “what are we passionate about,” as the lines between employment and passion are increasingly becoming blurred.
For corporations, this multifaceted generation is challenging the status quo. For the first time ever, corporates are trying to balance the demands of 4 generations in one work environment. Millennials are the most challenging generation yet, as we have little patience and are very vocal (and social) when it comes to criticism. Unlike our parents, who often remained loyal to their first employer for 10+ years, millennials tend to move jobs on average every 18-24 months. The key to success when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent today is to embrace the multifaceted millennial, viewing our ability to instantly reinvent and rewire as an enormous asset to any corporate environment.
In uncertain times, this generation of employees has the ability to provide a new perspective and drive innovation. Corporations that can find a way to provide Millennials with an outlet to share their creativity, leverage their networks, and question the status quo, will undoubtedly reap the rewards as we become the most influential generation of consumers since the Boomers. At 80 million strong with $200 billion in spending power, Millennials are much too big to fit in a box. Take our advice: create an environment that cultivates and encourages our fluid identities and our desire to learn. Be part of our journey, not road blocks along the way.