Aspen Ideas Festival: Why millennials work the way they do

Katie Couric, Simon Sinek, and Adam Grant discuss millennials in Aspen, CO.
Katie Couric, Simon Sinek, and Adam Grant discuss millennials in Aspen, CO.
Dan Bayer | The Aspen Institute

The constant talk of millennials might be tiresome to most, but they're a major part of a young workforce.

So, how do they work? And what do they want from their workplace?

Those are the questions journalist and author Katie Couric posed to two prominent authors: Simon Sinek and Adam Grant.

Grant pointed out that they're not so different from other generations — They want to like what they do; They want to like who they work with; and they want to know what they're doing is valuable.

However, they're a generation with experience in instant gratification. If they want a movie, they can stream it. Amazon delivers same day. Unfortunately, millennials apply that same principal to building a career.

What usually take times, growth, mastery and job satisfaction, doesn't seem fast enough to some so they move on to a different employer or career.

Sinek said companies that prioritize employee growth and not their bottom line don't have a problem retaining millennials.

It's in those companies that millennials stay and cultivate a career.

"You find that very well-lead companies don't have a millennial problem," said Sinek.

However, that issue millennials face — instant gratification — has hampered their ability to make meaningful connections with friends and colleagues.

That dampens their workplace experience and makes them impatient.

That impatience and technology are two of four things Sinek said impact millennial's ability to work in today's market. The other two are environment and parenting.

Parenting changed greatly for the millennial generation.

As Sinek said, when children did something wrong at school millennial's parents would ask what was wrong with the teacher, not the child. That leads to less self-reliance.

With an environment focused on bottom lines, millennials are likely to leave if they aren't seeing growth and cultivation of their talents.

So what's a millennial to do?

Look at the outcomes of careers, Grant said, not the day to day minutia.

Sinek agreed: "Taking a job where you really love the people you're going to be working with should be prioritized."

To hear their full discussion, use the audio player above.

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