The Question Matters


Millennials: A New American Dream or Just Dreamers?

Posted in Career,Change,Coaching,Entrepreneurs,Generation Y by treyfinley1008 on May 25, 2010
Tags: , , ,

Millennials openly tell employers about their new American Dream. Work will not be their life, they only work to live because they seek a work/life balance. They want flexible benefits (such as telecommuting) and a work environment that feels like home away from home. They are willing to leave a company when they aren’t offered these things.

via Gen Y has new ‘American Dream’.

Troy Stirman:  By far the most oft quoted phrase in my office is: “I’m looking for work/life balance…”  Today’s graduates are not looking to work beyond 40 hours per week.

OK, so this sounds great.  Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness needs to be possible in the workplace, too.  That’s the kind of job I would want.  In a corporate environment, it’s another story.  Some careers simply won’t lend themselves to this.  In other work environments, these ideas are so foreign to your Boomer supervisors and executives that to suddenly expect them is unrealistic.  Again, here’s Troy:

…Hiring managers that I follow up with during the post-interview tell me consistently that today’s students sometimes have unrealistic expectations in this area.  The Accounting/Finance sector is one of these that will strongly resist these changes. It is not part of their mainstream culture.  Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations and I.T./I.S are more apt to engage in these types of work environments.

So, is this a Dream or simply wishful thinking?  As the coach, here’s some of the questions I would ask:

1)  What sacrifices are you willing to make in order to create this kind of workplace?

2)  What are you doing to build bridges with those who can help you create this sort of workplace?

3)  If it’s not in your blood to take your time to change a corporation’s culture, are you willing to take the higher stakes road of entrepreneurship?

A story about someone who answered “yes” to #3 coming next.

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5 Responses to 'Millennials: A New American Dream or Just Dreamers?'

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  1. define lifestyleb

    Millennials: A New American Dream or Just Dreamers? | The Question Matters


  2. […] job market.  Troy described the prime directive of Millennials entering the workforce: work/life balance.  You read the story of one Millennial student’s entrepreneurial response to a job he […]

  3. Nathon Hay said,

    I’m having to create my own workplace. I tried working for Boomers. They either like to work 7-6 on someone else’s projects or they honestly see no other way.

    That’s not for me. I tried and was fired a number of times.

    Now I’m starting my own business, with my own rules.

    I’m a GenX. I think I’d like to hire some GenYs to be my salesmen.

  4. sonnypi67 said,

    I don’t know about Millennials but I know plenty of GenXers who really want work/life balance, i.e. work to live not live work. Of course, being pragmatic and realistic, not to mention cynical and pessimistic at times, GenXer understand that it isn’t always possible. You can’t just expect it. It is something that you have to strive for.

    It also depends on the kind of career you want. If you want to climb the corporate ladder you better be prepared to live to work. But on the other hand if you simply want to get to comfortable place, well, it is perhaps more attainable.

    An obstacle I can recall running up against when I worked in the corporate world was that some people just don’t understand or will accept that not everyone wants to constantly move up — some people hit a certain point and are comfortable where they are. These are often Boomers, but not always. My supervisor was a GenXer and was simply baffled at my :”lack of desire excel.” Maybe that had something to do with her “inability to properly motivate me” and “treating me a like cog in a machine.” She just assumed I would want what she would want instead of bothering to find out what I wanted.


    • Can our generation, can GenX have the forethought to share what we’ve learned with Gen Y? That’s always my question. Our experiences have surely taught us some lessons about how to (or how not to) change corporate culture.

      Good for you to be comfortable where you were and to know yourself well enough to know that a promotion wasn’t really the best thing for you. You also make a great point about the “lack of desire” to excel. Every human being has born into the them the desire to excel at something. That doesn’t have to be the workplace. And, the definition of excellence in the workplace has changed, too, I think.


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