Do not underestimate the employer’s responsibility for Millennials!

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A lot has been written about how employers can retain Millennials: setting clear frameworks and providing structure and room for personal development. But according to career coach Manou van Eerten, instilling the satisfaction of hard work and teaching them how to build meaningful relationships and consolidate long-term friendships, is even more important.

The Dutch television show Buitenhof recently addressed the situation of Millennials.
Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) represent the first generation that is less well off
than their parents:

1. They enter the labour market with an average student debt of € 24.000 because they
fund their own education.

2. A third is offered flexible employment agreements.

3. As a result of these temporary employment agreements, their student debt and a limited ability to build up their own capital, it is proving difficult to purchase a home in the current real-estate market.
So, one would think that once a Millennial has a job, they would be keen on keeping it. Quite to the contrary, I encounter a lot of ‘professional wanderers’ in my coaching practice, struggling with career-related issues (over 72% of highly educated professionals, Wijnants 2008). On a regular basis, they find themselves wondering what it is that they truly want. The popular term for this is the ‘Dilemma of the Thirties’. There are several contributing factors here:

1. Their belief in the engineerable nature of one’s own happiness.

Millennials were raised with the idea that they can create their own happiness. Their
parents have stimulated them to follow their hearts, and to do whatever makes them
happy. They were often told that they could get anything they wanted. Our
consumption society plays to that idea and a medium such as Facebook paints that
picture as well: everyone seems to be happy and we have all got our act together.
So, Millennials believe in the engineerable nature of their own happiness. Other
generations simply sought out a job in order to support their families, and they were
content once they succeeded in doing so. Millennials however aren’t content until their
job makes them happy. This raises questions, because what is happiness?

2. The illusion of being a superhero or a princess

In addition, Millennials’ parents affectionately called them ‘princess’ on a regular basis, and subsequently gave them princess dresses or superhero outfits to dress up in. As a result, the Millennials’ young minds came to believe that they are unique and special.
Which is exactly what parents have been telling them. This is enhanced by the fact that any competition or report card includes a prize for everyone, including those on the losing end of the spectrum. As a consequence, a Millennial entering the job market finds that there is a whole world out there to be won over. An employer can simply state that they didn’t do a good job and need to improve, if that is the case, which seriously damages their confidence and often puts a dent in the aforementioned job satisfaction.

3. A considerable dose of impatience

Finally, this generation is dealing with the habituation of direct satisfaction. Because everything is available right at their fingertips on the internet and channels like Netflix, you don’t have to wait for a week until the next episode is aired, they have grown impatient.
In addition, inventions like the smartphone and social media have given them access to the entire world without requiring any deep social = skills. Tinder for example, gets you a date with someone just by swiping right

Where is the app for patience?

The only thing that hasn’t yet been solved with an app, is job satisfaction and meaningful relationships. You don’t develop those within a month or a year. It takes discomfort, keeping your head down and patience. That is why patience is what I wish for this generation.Patience to build a productive working relationship ‘I’ve been working here for six months and nobody is listening to me!’ Patience to experience job satisfaction ‘This time I want to stay with the same employer for a long time, a year if I can’. And patience to discover that you’ve only just started your career and that it is OK to change course a couple of times ‘The decision I make now will determine the rest of my life!’.

How can an employer increase job satisfaction?

A lot has been written about how employers can retain Millennials. Those googling the topic will encounter tips about setting clear frameworks and providing structure and room forpersonal development. Though this will certainly help, it is even more important to instil the
satisfaction of hard work and teach them how to build meaningful relationships and consolidate long-term friendships. Part of that is learning how to work with a smartphone and social media (Compernolle 2014).
This is the responsibility we need to take for this fantastic, idealistic and enthusiasticgeneration! Simply because they haven’t been taught before.

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Manou van Eerten is an experienced career coach for people in their 20s and 30s and a leading expert in the Dilemma of the Thirties. She is a member of the National Association for Supervision and Coaching and a Recognised Coach. The Dilemma of her own Thirties resulted in her becoming an entrepreneur. See