Sometimes I hate to admit that I’m a millennial. Many consider us to be flaky and entitled.
I recently got an earful of what people think while researching and writing our November cover story about how fellow millennials are taking the health care field by storm due to sheer numbers. Apparently, we bring a laundry list of requirements to the workplace: needing constant feedback; demanding work-life balance and necessitating strong professional relationships to stay with our employers. But I don’t necessarily think that these traits describe us in a nutshell.
For example: Although professionals say that we need constant praise, I prefer direct, frank feedback to sugarcoated messages, and know plenty of other young people who do, too. I’d rather have no guidance at all than a micromanaging boss. I also have ample peers who are self-starters, wanting to create their own opportunities instead of needing coddling and guidance to get ahead.
Additionally, we’re labeled as having a casual approach to job loyalty, but that situation is more nuanced than it may appear. I know plenty of millennials — myself, included — who were so affected by the Great Recession that we still feel lucky just to be employed. Older millennials in particular — the very ones who are currently taking the reins of health care — had to learn how to work very hard as soon as we hit the job market, and that experience taught us to keep our noses to the grindstone and value the opportunities given to us.
That said, we do job-hop. Yet, as I’ve observed, the reason we do this isn’t necessarily because we feel we’re entitled, as some might have you believe. Frankly, many of us feel we don’t have any other choice than to move on at certain points in our careers. During my work on this story, Rachel Polhemus, senior partner at Witt/Kieffer, told me that millennials have not been promoted at the same rate as their predecessors. Decades ago, she said, it was no big deal to see hospital CEOs as young as 30. That’s a rarity today.
While we can only speculate as to the reasons for this stagnation (perhaps, it’s because baby boomers have stayed in the workforce longer), my generation has not been able to realize the same rate of salary growth as previous groups, all while we suffer from generationwide student debt. What I’m trying to say is that our job-hopping may be more a result of financial and career pressure than because we ultimately think we’re special snowflakes.
I’d also like to say that our reported desire for work-life balance is accurate, and in writing this story I was impressed by how many leading health organizations are taking the issue seriously — especially in this age of record clinical burnout.
If my generation is responsible for shepherding that value into the workplace, then perhaps I can be proud to call myself a millennial after all.