Financial post

Fulfillment equals productivity for millennials at work

Millennials are job-hopping in increasing numbers as employers fail to meet their need for personal development and to feel proud about the company they work for

The world of work does not get a free pass from millennials who seek meaning and importance in everything they do. For them (the generation born in the two decades before, or immediately after, 2000), the workplace must ideally reflect socially worthwhile goals because their sense of “engagement” is dependent on their feeling that they are maximizing their potential.

This cohort (huge in numbers because they are the offspring of the baby boomers) has been taught to believe that their ambition to change the world for the better is a meaningful aspiration and that they have a responsibility to pursue these objectives.

This may be due to an idealism that has always been associated with youth, but more likely owes a great deal to the fact that social media has altered the way young people interact, learn, get the news, express and share ideas. Coming of age in an era of unprecedented economic well-being has also increased the choices available.

Employers ignore this need at their peril. If millennials find themselves in assignments that merely make use of their technical skills but are boring, repetitive, or simply associated with improving the bottom line of an enterprise whose profile they don’t admire, this will show up in lower energy and productivity, diminished commitment and ultimately sub-optimal economic performance.

Multiplied over the breadth of the economy, disengaged employees are a drag on the output of the entire nation.

Not every company can be in a business whose product or service is seen as improving society, helping the disadvantaged or encouraging development in impoverished parts of the world. But a fossil fuel producing company, for example, can encourage research into more sustainable alternatives, maintain an admirable program of corporate social responsibility or adopt a vision that instills pride in the role the company plays to make the brand more meaningful.

All employers can acknowledge the need for their staff to creatively incorporate personal development objectives as part of their workday. Employees can be shown how they can leverage the training garnered from education through a challenging and varied work experience, beneficial skill enhancement and programs to encourage personality growth — all ways of capitalizing on native intelligence. The concept of employee “ownership” needs to include buy-in to the success of the company, beyond a literal investment in equity capital.

For millennial women, the problem is even more acute. Remuneration gaps still persist, and gender equality is still elusive even for those with impressive university credentials. They find it difficult to leverage their potential to gain traction and opportunities for themselves or for the benefit of their employer.

“If millenials don’t find meaning in their work, they’re not apt to stay,” says Sheeba Varghese, an accomplished executive coach with 15 years of experience, whose worked with clients such as Steve Williams, CEO of Suncor. “This is a well-educated group that expects to be doing work that offers them a high level of intrinsic satisfaction. Instead of experiencing that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 91 per cent of millennials say they are planning to remain at their job less than three years.”

Varghese is an author, television and radio personality and the founder of MaP Forward Inc., a new non-profit organization dedicated to empowering, educating, and encouraging millennial women to seek what she calls “personal mastery.”

This is a well-educated group that expects to be doing work that offers them a high level of intrinsic satisfaction
She notes that 72 per cent of millennials say that they would sacrifice a higher salary for a more personally and professionally fulfilling career, and 65% say personal development is the most influential factor for staying at their job.

MaP Forward coaches and supports millennial women using a variety of tools, ranging from proven psychometric testing techniques, strategies developed from test results, seminars, lectures and other programs.

Stanley Hartt is a lawyer, businessman, lecturer and former senior public servant.

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