The millennials million-dollar question “what do you work for”?

Purpose at Work

People lose their way when they lose their why – Gail Hyatt

It doesn’t matter if you’re starting your career or already have a long experience; if you’re in a leadership position or a junior one, or what industry you’re working in: we all share the same need to find purpose in everything we do. Interviewing potential candidates for any positions, one of my favorite questions was what is their main reason for getting up and going to work every day. The answers were diverse: some answered money and some that they enjoy assisting others, but the reply I got more often was that they wanted to give purpose to their lives through their work. It’s one of the human core qualities to find purpose in the things they do, and if there isn’t one, then we go on and create one for ourselves and that goal helps go about our days.

But how can you create purpose at work? And why is that important?

The current biggest workforce in the world are millennials and our world is facing large transfers of wealth to them, as an estimated $24 trillion will move from baby boomers to younger generations, mainly millennials, by 2020. But what makes millennials struggle with their jobs and is considered by recruiters one of the generations that is harder to manage? As they are generally considered lazy, entitled, delusional, narcissistic, and unreliable, existing research shows that millennials want a sense of purpose at work more than anything else.

For millennials, finding a purpose in their jobs means “liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals” and “use their skills to benefit a cause such as improving society” rather than simply generating profit. Therefore, any corporate today with a majority of millennials working for them have to learn how to motivate this generation how to work with them.

In order to manage to bring out the maximum productivity of millennials, corporate leadership has to learn to adjust to them and not vice versa. While past generations could stick to one company for a lifetime, and working was just another “chore”, millennials are different and the best way to manage them is to give them challenges, focus on their growth as a person and as a professional, make them feel valued instead of just another employee doing their job, showing them that their work has an impact and overall treat them as partners rather than personnel. Strong vertical hierarchies, secretive management teams and lack of purpose in the day to day work is the reason why so many millennials swift jobs often. Millennials don’t expect to be managed, but to be lead.

Secondly, whatever the position each teammate is in, it’s should be one they’re passionate about. If leaders knew how to see people beyond their current position, but rather to focus on potential and passion, then the majority of employees would prefer to stay put and grow within the company. Individuals work hardest and stay interested longest when it’s toward something that they care about, but current data shows that more than half of employees are unsatisfied with their jobs. If you suspect that this is the case for your company, then you need to either inspire them with a greater purpose, transfer them to a different position they’ll be more passionate about, or let them go. Because the more that your business hangs on to employees with no desire to move forward, the more difficult it will be to thrive and outpace competitors.
Lastly, millennials prefer facts over promises. Millennials are eager to progress in their careers, which often makes them impatient towards “future promises”. Even if this sounds egotistical, it really is all about being appreciated, because if they feel used, they will leave, or worse, become less than 100 % productive. This generation dislikes bureaucracy and distrusts traditional strict hierarchies. The best way to keep them motivated is to be open about career progression within the company and constantly reward milestones while adding more responsibilities, by challenging and increasing their skill set.
So how can companies apply purpose at work? It starts with leadership defining the organization’s vision and embedding it in all aspects of business strategy, daily operations, and employee retention. When employees are satisfied with what they do and love the company they work for, they naturally become authentic brand promoters. Providing purpose is highly likely to make employees more productive, as they feel their work is not “just another brick” in a purposeless wall.

Readers, what steps have you taken to find your purpose? Is your manager/company helping you during the process?
Tell us in the comment section below!


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