Millennials don’t have the easiest time. On any given day they can look forward to dealing with crippling student loan debt, the hiccups of a less-than-stable economy, and their roommates parents. In the workplace millennials are (often unfairly) criticized for being lazy, entitled, impatient, and disrespectful of authority.
Thankfully, the tides of millennial bashing are finally receding in tandem with a growing body of data that shows they are actually a whole lot more similar to previous generations than they are different.
That’s not to say that the last generation to live both with and without the internet, cell phones, and ride sharing isn’t unique. Earlier this week, HBR published a report detailing a recent study with some surprisingly novel findings about millennials in the workplace: they relentlessly, ruthlessly compare themselves with their peers and role models.
After hundreds of interviews, entrepreneur and consultant Emerson Csorba was surprised to discover that many millennials are continually on edge with anxiety about their identity and purpose. This anxiety is amplified by their peers’ rose-colored social media posts highlighting achievement while downplaying hardship, as well as the proliferation of self-improvement media with an emphatic focus on realizing one’s potential.
As one millennial put it: “It’s like, well, they [hyper-successful entrepreneurs] also have eyes, so does that mean if I also have eyes I will also be Elon Musk?”
Facebook isn’t going anywhere. Neither is the boomerang generation. (Think nearly 75% of the workforce by 2030.)
That’s why we’re equipping you with these pro tips on crafting a purpose-driven and anxiety-free culture for working millennials:
1. Help with their hobbies. One of millennials’ primary sources of anxiety is a feeling of purposelessness. Having a hobby is known to enhance confidence, self esteem, happiness, and creativity. If you employ or manage millennials, consider giving them an allowance to pursue a passion project or take a class in an area of interest.
2. Don’t just set goals – have clear benchmarks. Not every millennial can be the next George Bousis. In fact, all but a select few ever will be. Millennials aren’t going to stop consuming media coverage of other hyper successful twenty-somethings. Establish proactive benchmarks that allow your millennials to feel good about their own work by giving them ambitious-yet-attainable standards to strive for.
3. Make mentors available. Another point of interest in Csorba’s study was that many millennials struggled to adopt a long view of their careers — thinking in terms of years and decades rather than weeks and months. Try connecting your millennials with colleagues in previous generations that can lend some perspective.
Watch #FIVEinSIXTY with rising millennial Raaja Nemani, CEO of BucketFeet.
To read Emerson Csorba’s full article on HBR, click here.