We need to reevaluate Millennials.
They aren’t the lazy, narcissistic Generation Me they have been labeled … and I’m happy to say they are the future.
By Debbie Balch, Published 8/24/17
I don’t know about you, but I’m growing weary of Millennial bashing – their insight and fresh thinking is key to our company’s success. The Millennials in my life are hard-working and willing to pursue a purpose beyond themselves; something my own generation has just recently begun to incorporate. Heard the term “Corporate Responsibility” a lot over last several years? It seems that large companies know how important giving back is to this generation of workers – even at Starbucks I saw a sign seeking employees that instead of claiming ‘we’re hiring’ included ‘Be a part of Something Bigger’.
Here at EI we care very deeply about not just corporate responsibility but social responsibility, something that dubbing Millennials Generation Me would contradict … at least, they are if you believe all the articles and research floating around the internet. Let me tell you about a recent experience that further solidified my belief that Millennials – those phone addicted, headphone connected, craft beer drinking kids – are some of the most dedicated and altruistic workforce members. Ever.
We recently returned from Nicaragua, where I served with 7 young Millennials, including 5 Elevated Insights teammates. We joined a small team of Colorado volunteers to serve some of the neediest people in Nicaragua by donating time, medicine, clothes, and shoes. Most of the people we served live on less than a dollar a day, have no running water, and view simple medication like Tylenol or Ibuprofen a blessing.
Each day I was inspired by this hard working and energetic young crew, and walked away with 3 key lessons on both giving back as a corporation, and working with Millennials.
A New Perspective on Stress
- You push, push, push to get out the door for any trip or time away from the office. Layered on top of me being out of the country were 5 other team members. And we weren’t just “out of town,” we were going completely off the grid. I was definitely feeling stressed.
- But here is the thing: leaving to serve those in need allowed us all to come back with such a fresh insight into our professional and personal lives. Helping people who have much bigger challenges and far fewer material blessings put into perspective our first world problems. We came back to the office refreshed and inspired, and ready to tackle challenges with renewed vigor. As a team, we welcomed what had previously seemed like a chore and worked closer and more collaboratively than ever. I didn’t worry so much about people on their phones; I trusted them to work hard because I had seen them do it. And they felt comfortable approaching me with their ideas because they had seen me be open and receptive to new ways of thinking.
Connecting with Coworkers
- I mentioned the time in Nicaragua brought the team closer; let me elaborate. Serving alongside coworkers in such a humbling way broke down barriers across all levels of the organization – ones that a day off-site or a two hour team-building activity never could have. I finally connected with the people I work alongside day after day. I bonded, I get to know them better, and I was moved to see first-hand their heart’s desire to help people.
- Knowing how important it was to them to help people highlighted the need to reinforce and expand the company mission, beyond the daily-ness of what we do. Yes, we may be developing a discussion guide, moderating an online discussion, or conducting statistical analysis. And yes, we want our findings to help improve people’s lives by allowing companies meet their needs better. But ultimately, we can do so much more with the talent at Elevated Insights The opportunity to not only walk the walk of our social consciousness as a company, but to see it in action with a generation shouldering the burden of so much prejudice in terms of productivity … Frankly, the term ‘Generation Me’ just doesn’t fit who I see. And that makes me super proud.
Clarifying the Vision
- As a leader, seeing stark human needs (beyond living a slightly improved life) motivated me to think bigger for Elevated Insights. What big questions and needs in the world can we help address? What important questions aren’t being researched right now (possibly because there isn’t a client funding the study)? How can we use lessons learned to uncover and meet needs, to communicate effectively to bring positive change to the world?
- Conducting both for-profit and non-profit has always been important to EI. However, Nicaragua solidified my dedication to “do good” as a company. And believe it or not, this was something Millennials, my Millennials, could really rally around – seeing our work serve a philanthropic purpose, seeing the training, equipping, and enabling field the studies make a lasting difference, seeing results. You can almost taste the youthful enthusiasm permeating our office now, because we all want to leave a legacy beyond our years.
This philosophy of giving back is what drives us at Elevated Insights. And after sweating like crazy in the rainforest counting pills, staying a little later in a cushy office doesn’t seem like such a challenge. We love our team – if you are truly unhappy in your current role, life is short, seek your passion – we support you finding your niche in the world. This work with motivated Millennials helped me consider how all of the projects we’re focusing on now will enable us to work towards fulfilling our company mission.
So there you have it, my elevated insights from a pretty big trip – a trip we’ve taken for the past 7 years that continues to teach us important lessons. Elevated Insights regularly gives back, with quarterly efforts in our local community, and these are rich with lessons, too.
I’d love to hear what you’re learning as you’re giving back. And if you uncover some important questions that aren’t currently addressed by research, please let us know! Maybe we can partner for change.
~Debbie and the Elevated Insights Team