‘You have to dream before your dreams can come true’ – Abdul Kalam
I live in India where more than half the population is below 35 years or what we call universally as ‘Millennials’ or Gen Y generation. In number terms it translates to over 500 million! In the U.S., it is 86 million or 27% of the population!
We work with Millennials through our ‘Life & Money’ workshops across corporations, colleges, and consumers. Our experiences and insights through hundreds of interactions with Millennials in India indicate that Millennials dream about a) becoming an Entrepreneur soon b) frequent travels for pleasure and gain experiences in life c) identify close friends as their family. Millennials typically spend an average of 24% of their income on travel. Families in India are increasingly experiencing the ‘generation gap’ syndrome. Millennials share a lot more with their friends than with their families. We also find that more and more Millennials want to become entrepreneurs soon. Because they soon get disillusioned with the corporations for various reasons ranging from being a mere number to lack of freedom, recognition and flexibility at the workplace. These insights on what Millennials dream about in India are surprisingly similar to the survey conducted in U.S. by Mass Mutual’s third biennial study The 2013 State of the American Family.
What role should we as parents, educational institutions and corporations play to empower the Millennials to live their dreams? According to Dr. Meg Jay, author of The Defining Decade: Why your Twenties matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now, “One good conversation, One Good Break. One Good Ted Talk can have an enormous effect across years and even generations to come.”
As parents, it is important to being a close friend early on in our children’s lives. As parents, we will need to ‘listen’ rather than talk. We need to have conversations regularly that are open, not critical which will help build the trust factor and deepen the relationships. Research in human developmental growth indicates that significant growth occur when children are below 5 years, in their adolescent periods and finally during their adulthood that extends to until late 20s. Parents play a major role in impacting their children’s lives and their attitude towards life. As a matter of fact, financial decisions from our adulthood to latter part of our lives are largely influenced by what is taught to us implicitly or explicitly during the first 10 years of our lives.
As educational institutions it is important to integrate the ‘Life Skills’ Curriculum along with the main curriculum. My recent experience in one of the colleges with a group of 60 students validates Dr Meg Jay’s ‘One Good Conversation’ impact. Yes! Some of the students at the end of our interactive conversations on ‘Life & Money’ found clarity in what they want to do in their lives and how to achieve it.
As employers, it is important to integrate ‘Wellness Benefits’ that are holistic which will help the Millennials to be engaged and energized at the workplace. The benefits should go beyond the ‘creature comforts.’ Our insights on conducting Life & Money workshops for hundreds of employees at the workplace indicates that Millennials do want to contribute meaningfully and want to stay for longer time periods in corporations. What does it take for an organization to keep employees engaged and energized? According to Tony Schwartz, Founder of ‘The Energy Project’ whose firm consults organizations on building policies, practices and communities that support a better way of working, “We’re at our best when we move between expanding energy and intermittently renewing our four core energy needs: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. When you’re intent on supplying fuel in each dimension of energy, you’re creating happier people that will affect your organization’s success.”
In my humble opinion, I will like to add one more core energy area focused on increasing ‘Financial Wellness’ of employees. Research indicates a direct correlation between Financial Wellness and the above 4 core areas of our lives. According to Financial Finesse, one of the leading providers of financial education at workplace in U.S., “Financial Wellness is a state of financial well-being where an individual has achieved the following:
a) Minimal Financial Stress
b) A strong financial foundation consisting of little or no debt, an adequate emergency savings fund and living below the means
c) An ongoing plan that puts them on track to reach future financial goals”
I believe that the Millennials will have to be provided a platform that will energize them on all the above core areas of their lives in a more engaging and fun way at their work place. Because of the sheer size of the population of the Millennials in countries like India and US are so huge, corporations that are supportive of these initiatives are bound to benefit immensely with higher productivity and retention rates. According to Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder of LinkedIn, “All humans are entrepreneurs not because they should start companies but because the will to create is encoded in human DNA.”
How do you plan to support the Millennials to live their dreams?
This blog was originally published in Huff Post by Partha Iyengar.