Generation Why?

Who are we, the ‘millennial’ generation? Well, pop that question into Google – a Millennial’s best friend – and the first answer you’ll get is probably:

plural noun: millennials
a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.
“the industry brims with theories on what makes millennials tick”

Hit it up in Wikipedia, and you’ll find that the Millennial ‘Generation Y’ cohort has no precise start or end dates, but typically reaches from children born in the early 80s up to the mid-90s to early naughties.

Me, I’m a ’95 kid. And if the name of this blog wasn’t any clue, I identify with the Millennial Generation. You know, the one blamed for enjoying avocado on toast instead of saving for mortgages.


So, what does make us tick? Is it a unique happy-hour cocktail of narcissism, hedonism and nihilistic tendencies? Or are we badly portrayed and misunderstood?

We’re passionate. Like, really passionate.

According to the LinkedIn’s latest Workplace Culture report, almost nine out of ten of us (86% to be exact) would consider earning less in order to work for a company whose mission and values align with our own, whilst only 9% percent of the baby boomer generation (currently aged 54 and 72) would do the same.

I’m not sure if that makes us passionate or picky, but the fact is we’re perhaps less willing to compromise on our values just to pay the bills. One explanation for this could be the increased interconnectivity of work and lifestyle in the 21st century. No longer does 5pm on a Friday come around, you go home and forget all about your job that you hate for the weekend. A lot of modern jobs are intertwined with our lives; whether its the constant conversation happening in the work WhatsApp group chat, the networking events on weekends and evenings or the fact that many of our generation work remotely and work flexible jobs that are pretty much integrated into our lifestyle (like me), it’s more important that we actually like our jobs since they are such a big part of our lives.

If we consider the low home ownership of millennials and the lower percentage of millennials having children, it is likely that our jobs account for a greater part of our identity. So it’s understandable we’d actually want to identify with them. And hate them or love them, in many ways millennials are actually workaholics. One study points to millennials as more likely to forfeit unused work holiday days than other age groups (24% of Millennials, 19% of Gen Xers, and 17% of Baby Boomers forfeited accrued holiday time). Despite this, surveys (Deloitte and Comparably) have shown that we do actually want to work less, and that we value work-life balance above career progression. In short, we just want to be happy.

We’re movers (and quitters)

A poll carried out by Deloitte found that in a sample of 10,000 millennials spanning 36 countries, 43% of us were planning to leave our jobs within two years, and only 28% were planning to stay beyond five years. According to the same study, we also care more about diversity, inclusion, and flexibility than we do money. So if you want to keep your millennial employees from leaving, you’ve got to think beyond numbers.

In my personal experience, I’m turning 23 next week and I’ve already had eight (I think) jobs. And personally I can’t see myself staying anywhere for as long as five years, at least through my twenties, as I hope to move around and take new work (and life!) opportunities as they come along.

Maybe this nomadic, quick-paced lifestyle is why so many millennials – myself included – are drawn to minimalism. We’ve shown a tendency to own less things, and spend more money and energy on experiences and relationships. Of course, technology and social media has helped with this, as we’ve traded in our photo albums for Instagram feeds, our DVD collection for Netflix and our CDs and even MP3 players for Spotify.

Read more about why I’m a minimalist here.

Part of the millennial generation’s relationship with ‘stuff’ can be understood economically. We’ve had to have less because we’ve had to pay more for basic commodities. Have you seen the price to rent a room in London? Now think about the minimum wage and do the maths. Most of us have been forced into a kind of minimalistic lifestyle at some point in our lives, but many of us have actually embraced it. It’s actually amazing how far your pay-packet can go when you prioritise £9.99 flights with Ryanair instead of a new £399 television or a new range cooker.

Of course, another factor is our increased awareness about climate change and the toll consumer-based capitalism is having on our planet (and our future). This is another key reason that millennials are consuming less, or at least consuming more mindfully. We also tend to opt for more environmentally-friendly options, choose to support local businesses and are more likely to prioritise our health and wellbeing. So while older generations may be more sedentary and have poorer diets (but own their own home), we’re indeed more likely to hit a yoga class and then grab some avo-toast and kombucha.

All of this said, there is a strong argument that suggests that Millennials are in fact inherently no different to other generations; we’re just younger, and younger in a time with more expensive house prices, a completely different array of jobs and arguably much more compelling TV series.

Are you a Millennial? Let me know what you think about the term and what we’ve covered in this post, in the comments below.

James Sturt-Schmidt - Millennianaire


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