Many leaders have been lamenting the fact that the Millennial Generation is "not up to snuff" concerning workforce integration. Whether lamenting the fact that they do not have the technological skills or the fact that today's Millennial Generation is incredibly lazy, corporate leaders lament the work ethic of the next generation. While some of these stories may be true, the reality is that the Millennial Generation is realizing the old paradigm of the Corporate Rat Race isn't working.
Today's Millennial Generation is realizing that the soul-sucking construct of the Corporate Rat Race no longer applies, and it doesn't meet the needs of humanity. Indeed, the Millennial Generation realized that there were a number of problems with the Corporate Rat Race, including:
(1) Creating an Artificial Distinction between the Personal and Professional: Today's Millennial Generation is realizing that working purely for financial gain and not for personal fulfillment is not only impossible, but creates a soul sucking schism that not only creates psychological distress but accelerates physical deterioration.
(2) Becoming an Anonymous Cog: After seeing the Baby Boomers tossed aside due to automation or outsourcing, today's Millennial Generation is realizing that the supposed benefits of a corporate position are illusory. In the end, every individual, from the CEO to the mail clerk, is expendable and will be instantly forgotten as soon as the next crisis or boom hits.
(3) Increasingly Worthless Personal Costs: The Millennial Generation looks again to the Baby Boomer Generation and wonders what it was all for. The long grueling hours, the corporate politics and the lack of control, have lead most Baby Boomers to be husks of their youthful selves. The dreams of going on long sunset cruises or hiking Mount Kilimanjaro have given way to multiple divorces, frayed friendships, delayed retirement and multiple health problems that merely accelerate an early entry into the grave.
(4) Shifting Economic Paradigm and a Stagnant System: The reality of today's economic paradigm, which the Millennial Generation understands better than the Baby Boomer Generation, is changing dramatically. The Millennial Generation is realizing that while corporations will always exist, technology has now empowered the individual to the extent that they can now become their own mini-corporations and make their own rules. What the Millennial Generation is waiting for are the socio-economic systems to catch up to the new reality.
(5) Specialization as Another Artificial Construct: While there are individuals who can spend their entire lives working in an esoteric field that only a handful of individuals truly understand, those individuals are in the minority. Most individuals want to experiment and diversify themselves both at a professional and a personal level. Today's economic paradigm has created the artificial expectation that to succeed one must specialize, thus turning the individual into a widget to be used until it is a husk of their former self.
(6) Overrated Process: While processes have enabled corporations to thrive and grow to unprecedented levels, processes are increasingly failing to adapt to the new realities. Today's Millennial Generation is realizing (due to increasing personalization), cumbersome government and corporate processes are antiquated and no longer relevant. The Millennial Generation is increasingly questioning why processes should dictate their lives when they should rather be used to enable individuals to achieve their personal goals.
If the Millennial Generation realizes that the Corporate Rat Race is a soul-sucking artificial construct of which they want no part, the question then becomes: what do they want? While it is relatively easy to slip into using the overused phrase of "work/life balance", it is actually much more than that. The Millennial Generation is looking for the following characteristics:
(1) Doing Meaningful Work: The more the Millennial Generation looks at the core of what it means to work in the Corporate Rat Race, the more they see themselves as soulless widgets that have been lobotomized for the sake of a financial pittance. Today's Millennial Generation wants to do meaningful work. Whether that means helping people or curing disease, they want to feel like they are contributing to the betterment of all humanity, not just a corporation's bottom line.
(2) Enjoying Life While Working: The Millennial Generation isn't afraid of work. What they want is more freedom to do it. Being tied to a desk for decades before receiving a pittance of a retirement income is not how they see their lives. They want the flexibility to work hard but also live hard. Whether it is taking two months off to explore Southeast Asia or learning to pilot a plane, the Millennial Generation wants to live life to the fullest.
(3) Working on Real Deadlines: Today's economic paradigm is creating artificial scarcity for the purposes of driving people to do more with less. Unfortunately, it is increasingly being taken to the extreme, where corporations are driving their employees faster and harder by comparing their positions to that of a surgeon performing a lifesaving operation. There's a major difference between these. Employees working faster and harder don't save lives but merely improve a corporation's bottom line. Today's Millennial Generation wants to work on realistic deadlines, not ones artificially imposed.
(4) Maintain Life-Long Learning: The biggest problem that today's Millennial Generation has with the Corporate Rat Race is the fact that it artificially forces individuals to choose between learning for career and learning for life. By acquiring technical knowledge that becomes outdated within 5 years results in learning becoming a burdensome chore instead of something to be enjoyed over a lifetime.
Today's corporate leaders are mistaking the Millennial Generation's intransigence concerning the Corporate Rat Race as laziness, when it is actually a cry for change. The Millennial Generation understands that today's economic paradigm is dramatically shifting and they are preparing themselves to deal with that shift. What the Millennial Generation is demanding through its intransigence is for society to wake up and realize the old methodologies not only don't work but are being replaced with something more humane.