When All You Want Is To Matter

There are so many articles these days about how useless millennials are, with people imploring them to conform or be doomed to a life of perpetual underemployment. Putting aside the absurdity of these arguments for a bit, I just wanted to reflect on something I see consistently that’s a difference between the work of yesterday, versus the workplace of today.

More and more, people are branding themselves less as generalists. People are continually entering the workplace these days with broader skills, more breadth and experiences that enable them to dive into a bevy of diverse projects. This benefits organizations and institutions that they serve. While it might not result in a pay increase, a title change or much else; it’s the new normal.

When I join a company, I tend to want to leverage everything at my disposal to their benefit. Not just the regular duties assigned to me, but wherever else I need to pitch in. This isn’t an unusual thing. I know lots of people who do the same things. Whether it’s helping however we can, it’s just part of what we consider being part of a community even if if said community is the workplace.

More and more, I find that leaders just don’t care about these things. Whether it’s a failure to understand the challenges with being a worker in a millennial age or just a general tone deafness about the ways to motivate young people; I find that it can be very challenge to stay consistently fired up in a context where you don’t feel any of your contributions are being recognized.

Maybe you’ll think this is a screed issued by a kid who spent too much time getting Certificates Of Participation during youth sports. But that’s not the case, here. Simply put, when you’re a single worker who hasn’t started a family yet, you place a premium on your climb up the ladder. There are so many easy ways for organizations to benefit from the energy and consistency that young people bring to their institutions by crafting milestones, challenges and ways to keep the work interesting. Not every task will be interesting. Not every aspect of the job glamorous. But there can be so much bureaucracy in the ways that we dole out job titles, in terms of how we can become rigid about “facetime” when it’s not necessary that we shoot ourselves in the foot in regards to helping our organizations thrive.

The future will be won by companies who understand how to craft environments where people want to be. It’s no accident that companies like Google are lauded for their policies that improve workplace productivity. These are not anomalies.

Not every company can be as flexible, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t evaluate how you craft your workplace experience to make sure it’s people-centered.

Without employees, you have no business. We’re often so customer-centric, that we forget the linchpin in our success are the people who consistently deliver these first-class experiences.

It’s not always about money or titles, it’s about making sure people feel like they matter. Making people feel like they matter takes work and consideration. It takes a pulse.