It seems I make a point of talking about the millennial generation (those emerging into the workforce now), and how there seems to be a perception that they are less motivated than prior generations. It’s probably true that they were given broader opportunities than prior generations while growing up. This simply means that they generally had better travel experiences, were open to more cultures, peoples and foods, had easier means of communicating with many people including those in other countries or continents. What this seems to mean is that the millennials value this rich diversity in life and intend to pursue this during their working life as well – meaning they will value a work life balance that many of us would consider to be very much weighted towards life than work. This is not a bad thing.
However, it does spur the consideration that as the baby boomers retire and the following generation (currently the mid career types) is a significantly smaller population, that the total amount of talent in the U.S. seems to be diminishing rapidly.
- The U.S. population is clearly more consumeristic than other nations. Only we seem to need a new car every 3 years and have leasing programs that support this. Do people in Europe really buy brand name toilet scrubbers? The point is that in order to support the level of consumerism we currently have, we need to think whether the lifestyle is sustainable if we decide to work less.
- The U.S. is already quite wealthy from a per capita standpoint. The fact that we can afford the above speaks to this. However, more importantly is that we have more available to us than prior generations did. For a fairly inexpensive rate, we can have a terrific variety of foods. The overall quality and diversity of products has increased while costs have gone down – much of this caused by outsourcing.
- Perhaps the U.S. workforce is beginning to look more like that of Europe. Where sub-40 hour workweeks are normal, some countries take a “siesta” in the middle of the day, and many countries seem to take the entire month of August off, the demand for a reasonable leisure to life is also increasing here in the U.S.
So what’s my point? The millennials have caught a lot of flack fore being lazy, and I’ve noted my discomfort with the direction of the workforce on this site as well. However, perhaps the state of the economy and the maturity of the workforce are reaching a point where life indeed is the pursuit, not the fulfillment of one’s work life. Perhaps this is the right future.