Changing Times, Changing Minds


"64% of Millennials would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring."

Contributed by Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy

A lot of research has been dedicated to learning more about Millennial attitudes as companies struggle to adjust corporate cultures to align with their thinking. This cohort has received a bad rap in most of the research, but at Green Canopy we have found that building a culture that unleashes the “Millennial Mindset” in all of our employees increases our productivity and our ability to execute our mission to inspire resource efficiency. For this reason, I believe that organizations should work to realign their corporate cultures to foster this mindset in their employees. A few fun facts below help illustrate the point that the future of successful businesses will be predicated on creating corporate cultures that are designed to attract and retain millennial minded employees of any age. 

  • Millennials (People born in 1981 or after) comprise more than one in three of adult Americans by 2020.

  • They will make up as much as 75% of the U.S. workforce by 2025.

  • 89% expressed a stronger likelihood that they would buy from companies that supported solutions to specific social issues. 

  • 87.5% disagreed with the statement that "money is the best measure of success," compared to about 78% of the total population. 

  • The top ideal employers of currently employed Millennials are Google, Apple, Facebook, the U.S. State Department, and Disney. Note: Five of the top 15 most ideal employers are government agencies (State Dept., FBI, CIA, NASA, and Peace Corps). 

  • 63% want their employer to contribute to social or ethical causes they felt were important. About half of older Gen Xers and Boomers felt the same.

  • 64% would rather make $40,000/year at a job they love than $100,000/year at a job they think is boring.

Source for the above:

  • Not only do half of all Millennials choose not to identify with either political party, just 31% say there is a great deal of difference between the Republican and Democratic parties.[Polarizing politics are a vestige of the silent and boomer generations, and not necessarily part of the future of America.]

  • Despite their financial burdens, Millennials are the nation’s most stubborn economic optimists. More than eight in ten say they either currently have enough money to lead the lives they want (32%) or expect to in the future (53%).

Source for the above:

  • Millennials are connected. The idea of being required to sit in a cubicle for eight hours a day strikes the Millennial as bizarre.

  • Millennials don’t want to simply pay their dues as did previous generations. For many companies, the default process is to promote based on tenure rather than talent. [Equal pay and promotion for equal work… Merit rules the day. What a concept!?]

Source for the above:


Image courtesy of Flickr: Valtech Sweden

The below excerpt was taken from an interview with Ron Alsop who did the research and wrote the definitive book on Millennials

“Kuhn: How can employers best capitalize on the millennial generation?

Alsop: I believe employers can best capitalize on millennials by making them feel that their work is important, giving them lots of feedback and positive reinforcement, and telling them that the company will help them develop their skills and career potential. This generation isn't loyal to any one company and is likely to work for many employers. But millennials will be more apt to stay with an employer if they can see why their sometimes seemingly mundane job is important to the company's success. They also want to build their portfolio of skills and experiences through mentoring, training and development programs, and the opportunity to switch jobs within their company…”

Evolve Into the Millennial Mindset

Frankly the work of today and tomorrow is important work. As the world’s population continues to grow and strain our finite planetary resources, all businesses of the future will have to consider and adapt to working more with less resources. Many more businesses will intentionally start and organize themselves to tackle some of the world’s pressing resource scarcity and climate challenges, while also doing well for their shareholders and by their employees.

As I synthesize all of this, the Millennial picture becomes clear. This mindset is a key to our world’s future success because Millennials are a large percentage of working Americans now and will be in the future. They are diplomatic peacemakers for whom success doesn’t necessary equal wealth. They want to work at doing good in the world. They would rather have a job of purpose and challenge than one that is boring and pays more. They are optimistic, believe in merit over tenure, and prefer coaching over being told how to perform. Rather than complain about the Millennial Mindset, we should celebrate it, seek it out and foster it in our work.  

The successful businesses of tomorrow will employ people with the Millennial Mindset that some love to hate. Their cultures will be designed to unlock the inner Millennial in all their employees and earn the right of retention for those they are so fortunate to serve. The stodgy business practices that made corporations great in the past, thrived in what is no longer our world: a very top down, heavily bureaucratic, do-as-you-are-told, perceived limitless resource reality. Thankfully, society has largely evolved beyond those outdated business practices. It is time for employers to do the same.