Two Generations Push for Meaning and Purpose in the Workplace

Posted on Categories Culture/Employee Engagement, Purpose

What is it with these Millennials? Well maybe we aren't all so different after all. While much is written about the “Millennial effect” on the workplace, when it comes to the shared mindset of purpose in the business environment, this is driven not by one, but by two generations at opposite ends of the career spectrum—Millennials and Baby Boomers.

Millennials are looking for something beyond a paycheck that empowers them to make a difference in the world and Baby Boomers are becoming more mindful of the wake they’re leaving behind.

At the intersection of these two generations there is a powerful opportunity that can only be seized when a company’s Purpose aligns and connects with all employees on a level beyond the bottom line. Leaders looking to foster a great place to work and make a positive impact in the world are taking note.

Millennials: A Desire to Contribute to Something Bigger

Generation Y, commonly known as the Millennial Generation, encompasses people born roughly from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. They have entered the workforce en masse, and are not interested in doing business as usual. They are not only worried about how much money they earn, but also about how they earn it. In fact, they’re not satisfied with just a paycheck; they gain satisfaction from their work when they feel they are contributing to something larger and more valuable than their company’s earnings.

Millennials have high expectations for the companies they contribute to, which means they tend to change jobs frequently when their working environments don’t allow them to add value. And if they don’t find what they are looking for, many choose to go into business for themselves.

Whether they become entrepreneurs or rise through the ranks of existing companies, these young people are the future business leaders—and they are hungry for a chance to use their influence for good.

Baby Boomers: Looking for a Legacy that Matters

At the other end of the spectrum, far removed from their days of graduating from college and entering the workforce, are the Baby Boomers.

This idealistic generation became known for redefining long-held values, and for wanting and expecting the world to improve with time. Driven by a desire to effect change in the ’60s and ’70s, they set out to revolutionize the world and create a new paradigm. This group embraced personal freedoms, abhorred big business, and harbored distrust for all things related to the establishment.

But somewhere along the way, these aging “rebels” who were going to change the world became part of the system they were fighting to change.

Now, as Boomers face retirement, they are looking back on their long careers and asking challenging questions: What meaningful contributions have I made to the world? What have I worked so long and so hard to accomplish? What kind of legacy will I be leaving?

While they may have made vast contributions, they still worry about leaving something behind that can change the world for the better. They’re reigniting their earlier desire to add value and meaning to business.

The combined forces of these two groups at either end of the age and work spectrum are opening the door for significant change. They are looking for organizations where they can bring their whole self and values to work. They are pushing for a change of focus to something beyond profits and shareholder value—a push for Purpose.

Jackie DrydenWith a passion for helping others discover “why” and “what for,” Jackie Dryden leads companies to uncover and align with their purpose. But don’t be fooled. Her purpose development strategy packs a punch and will shake the core of your foundation. Serving as the Chief Purpose Architect at Savage, Jackie thrives on creating design and communications strategy to support corporate purpose. She is co-author of "Get Your Head Out of Your Bottom Line and Build Your Brand on Purpose" available at http://savagethinking.com.

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