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How to scare off millennials (and how to engage them)

by Jos Dames, on Nov 9, 2020 4:23:07 PM

In the 1976 film “Network”, fictional anchor man Howard Beale shouts into the camera that he wants his audience to stand up for themselves and say “I am a human being, my life has value!” Not long after the release of this film, the first millennials were born. So was I and we have taken Mr. Beale’s appeal to heart.

What makes millennials tick?

Being a millennial myself, I am convinced that my life has value. Growing up in the 90s and early 2000s will do that to a person. However, this notion of value raises questions. What is my value? What are my strengths and qualities? What would the world miss if I would never have walked this earth? And who will benefit from this value of mine? Will that be me, my family, my community or the company that I work for?

These are the existential thoughts and questions of a twenty-something-year-old millennial entering the job market today. We are said to be the most educated generation to enter the work place thus far. No other generation before us has had the favourable conditions that we have had to develop ourselves. This has created a sense of noblesse oblige; we have been given many opportunities and it is also expected from us by our environment that we make the most of these opportunities. As a result, one thing we are very focused on is our value.

A millennial’s focus on their own value may come across as self-centred. Often, however, we millennials feel the pressure to become the best version of ourselves not just for us, but to contribute to our surroundings. This could be our community, our social network or our company, but to give meaning to our life, we want to contribute to something bigger than ourselves. This often results in the fact that we are also rather focused on our values.

Finding our dream employer

So, in the search for meaningful contribution, we focus on our value and on our values. We are looking for a company that has it all: a vision that fits with our values, a job where we can put our value to work and colleagues that share our values and appreciate our value. Our dream job is challenging, meaningful and full of opportunities to develop ourselves. Because there is one thing more interesting to us than putting our value to work at your company: increasing our value so that we can contribute even more! Jobs that do not fulfil these criteria are deemed replaceable. So, if you want to scare off millennials, make sure that we feel like we are wasting our value at your company and that you don’t share our values.

To engage millennials, you have to become our dream employer. I believe that one way to achieve this is by investing in a young professional programme. Being part of a young professional programme myself, I feel that the combination of learning and contributing is very engaging. Young Professional programmes should be designed to support the development of young potentials whilst paying serious attention to their input and suggestions; the day you underestimate your millennial’s (potential) value is the day that we start looking for another job.

By Jos Dames