By now we’re well aware that the number of Millennials that make up the U.S. workforce is quickly approaching 50%. And we’re all familiar with the stereotypes about Millennials – they’re quick to hop jobs, they don’t want to work regular business hours, and they demand work-life balance. While some of these proclivities may be true, the myriad of studies about the youngest segment of our workforce also show that Millennials greatly desire companies that are driven by a purpose.
The desires of these candidates likely stem from a state of mind rife with uncertainty. Coming of age during a recession, finding themselves in a ton of student debt, living in a divided political climate, and being disillusioned by brands with tarnished images, it’s no wonder that these workers have a hard time setting down roots. Seeing them through this lens makes it obvious why they value flexibility over rigid structure and why living for the moment instead of planning for the uncertain future has become a priority.
When asked in a survey by the National Society of High School Scholars, thousands of young people between the ages of 15 and 29 reported which companies they would most like to work for. Not surprisingly, at the top of the list were big names like Google, Microsoft, and Apple. But other high-ranking spots were given to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the C.I.A. and the Army. This goes to show that Millennials and the upcoming wave of Gen Z candidates may be willing to forego flexible work environments if they are instilled with a clear sense of purpose.
The turbulent environment they belong to has made them want to devote their time to changing the world for the better. They know it’s unlikely that the economy will allow them to be paid very much, so their job preferences tend to focus on meaning over money. That kind of signal should ring a thousand bells for employers; creating a purpose-driven culture could be just as much of an incentive as a high-paying salary. The value of nurturing and exhibiting this kind of company culture cannot be overstated.
It’s becoming apparent that as long as our current cultural climate ushers in uncertainty, young candidates entering the talent pool will be drawn to companies that embody innovation, flexibility, work-life balance, philanthropy, and a strong employee culture grounded by a common cause.
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