What differentiates Millenials from previous generations?
This age-old debate (no pun intended) has reached a new level of intensity as a growing number of young professionals enter the labour force and transform traditional workspaces into multi-generational environments.
For Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers now working alongside this young generation, the transition has elicited significant uncertainty – what can be expected of these new professionals?
To add further fuel to the controversy of generational differences, a major study
in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
recently arrived at a less-than flattering profile of Millenials’ engagement with environmental and civic initiatives.
In the study, three distinct generations were defined as Boomers (those born between 1943 to 1961), Generation X (those born between 1962 to 1981) and Millenials (those born between 1982 and 2000).
Through a comparison of the survey responses that were provided by participants in each generation when they were around 18 years old, the study found a disconcerting trend in the most recent age group.
According to the report, “Three times as many Millennials (15%) than Boomers (5%) said they made no personal effort at all to help the environment, and only 40% as many Millennials (9%) as Boomers (15%) said they made quite a bit of effort.” Additional findings aligned Millenials to the image of “Generation Me,” an age cohort heavily focused on money, image and fame over concern for others.
As a Millenial myself, I think this depiction of the youngest generation is more than a little simplistic and harsh. Far from being card-carrying members of Generation Me, many of us are eager to make meaningful contributions to our environment and communities.
A great example of this can be seen in ECO Canada’s Green High Schools program
, an initiative featuring 43 high schools, over 1,300 students and 50 educators who are helping to extend environmental awareness out to 43,000 fellow students and 3,200 educators.
The high school students in this program have demonstrated a remarkable commitment to innovative thinking and sustainability issues through an impressive list of projects ranging from constructing a large biosphere to building desktop biodiesel stations.
What is more, these projects are hardly isolated incidents of Millenials’ desire to have a positive impact on the world around them.
In a survey by Canon Canada
of over 1,000 Canadian teens, 56% indicated that they would consider pursuing an environmental career. The most common reason provided for this was a desire to make the world a better place – a response provided by 69% of those with an interest in environmental work.
These various examples point to good news the next time your company hires a young professional. Millenials represent a generation with remarkable potential. Given the opportunity, many of them are ready and willing to bring unprecedented creativity, technological know-how, and innovation to the table.
How would you characterize different generations in the workplace? What are the similarities and differences that you have noticed?