Millennials do care about more than just their smartphones. Like generations preceding them, they have their own aspirations to give back to their communities, contribute via their careers, and make the world a better place.
We have all encountered the stereotypes of millennials as cyborgs: young people, intimately connected to their Apple Watches or computers, who interact with the world primarily through the binary filters of technology. The truth, however, about this first generation to come of age during the digital era may be surprising. Millennials are actually much more heterogeneous, as well as more profound and sophisticated, than many older adults may think. Let us delve into some research-based myth busting about this poorly understood tide of people.
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Millennials have been unfairly characterized as needing much more psychological stroking than do other generations. Actually, a seminal study conducted by the IBM Corporation dispels this myth of generational narcissism, at least in the workplace. Far more than they want a boss who makes them feel like a prince or a princess, for example, millennials hope to find a supervisor “who’s ethical and fair and also values transparency and dependability.” Millennials even consider benefiting from these positive traits in bosses to be more important than achieving recognition in the workplace or being asked to provide their thoughts and opinions.
Many older adults may think that millennials have different goals from other generations, but studies show that millennials’ goals actually match up very evenly with the hopes and aspirations of those who were born before them. Issues such as climate change, divides between rich and poor, and world peace matter to millennials across the globe. Indeed, almost as much as baby boomers, millennials want to impact their world. Fully 22 percent of millennials (compared to 24 percent of baby boomers) report that they hope to solve social or environmental challenges in their lives.
Far from the stereotype of being unrealistically self-assured and inappropriately ambitious, millennials demonstrate the same tempered career goals as baby boomers and Generation Xers. Only 18 percent of individuals from all three of these groups, for example, relay that becoming a senior leader is a top career goal for them. Millennials are also slightly more likely than the preceding generation to want to save the world, with 13 percent of millennials saying they would change jobs for a good cause compared to 11 percent of Generation Xers. Here, millennials are nipping at the heels of the socially conscious baby boomers, 14 percent of whom say they would change jobs for the same reason.