What those “Apathetic” Millennials Really Want Out of a Job

copyright Satya Byock, 2013

copyright Satya Byock, 2013

Too often, Millennials are derided for their apathy in the workplace: They’re restless. They expect too much. They change jobs too often. But what if, as so many Millennials would tell you themselves, they just happen to want to like their work?

In this recent article at Forbes.com about what Millennials really want out of a job, author Kerry Hannon included the following data from a survey of Milllennials:

“Although their ideal job would pay a lot of money, when push comes to shove, nearly 60% of those surveyed would choose a job they love, even if it comes at a lower pay grade,” according to the report by poll director Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, the Clark psychology professor who coined the term “emerging adults.”

Many companies–often headed by younger people–have caught onto the notion that quality of life within the workplace is a critical component of retaining this generation of workers. And why not!? It’s time that Millennials got credit for wanting so much out of life. The desire to live a fulfilling life guides decisions for this generation; a generation that has grown-up under the mid-life crises of their parents and a culture focused more intently on the veneer of happiness than a depthful, genuinely fulfilled existence. Children can smell a rat. These children who are now in the workforce are not easily fooled. What may appear externally as entitlement or poor manners is internally a determination to live a good life… and waves of grief that it may not be possible to do so…

Just like all generations who have come before them, there is idealism in this generation. It is often so veiled by sadness and despondency (don’t forget global warming, endless wars, terrorism, AIDS, poverty, family traumas, sexual abuse, government in shambles), that this generation needs a shot at being deeply heard. Their ideals will sometimes come through in picket lines and politics, but they’re more likely to show-up in what Millennials demand out of life. This is a rich form of protest.