Have you seen the SNL skit entitled “The Millennials?” It hilariously portrays millennials as dull, living-at-home, uninterested in work, always on their cell phones, and pretty much unreliable. Is this an accurate assessment? I vote a resounding “No!” In fact, my experience says that millennials are going to change the world… “for good!” Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. and they are quickly becoming the most influential population today. As they begin to shift the dynamics of my 30-year-old company, I am witnessing firsthand, their desire to do good as well as the strong influence they have over their older counterparts to follow suit. No other generation has been as committed to doing good as the millennials, and that passion is one of their defining characteristics.
Almost 40 percent of Antis Roofing and Waterproofing staff is comprised of millennials, and I’ve noticed that the more millennials join Antis, the more social change comes about through our company. Their passion to make positive changes in the community is infectious—and that is a great thing for our world. Here are four reasons why millennials are driving this movement to do good:
1. Millennials inherently need things to matter.
Millennials are not dull, they are thoughtful about what they buy, where they work and what they do. As opposed to previous generations (including their parents’), millennials are less driven by money and success and more by ways to improve society. Their minds are more creative and so they get bored, and are not satisfied with the status quo of work for work’s sake. If it doesn’t “matter,” then why do it?
From a business standpoint, in order to attract millennials, the company should be sincere, transparent and dedicated to the practice of conscious capitalism. Millennials want to know that they will make a positive difference in the world if they join your business. I strongly encourage more businesses to practice conscious capitalism. When companies have a greater purpose, are able to stand for something more and are passionate about what they do, success will follow.
2. They are self-educated and curious about the world.
Ever notice how many times our younger generation looks down at their cell phones? Are they praying? A millennial’s smart phone is an extension of his or her brain! Writer Marc Prensky coined the term “digital native” to describe millennials back in 2001, explaining that they “represent the first generations to grow up with this new technology.” With so many ways to educate themselves on-demand and in real time with the swipe of a finger or the click of a button, millennials can not only become experts on all sorts of issues and topics, but more importantly, they can become more curious and empathetic to the world and its problems. And they are not afraid to take action.
I am inspired by my millennial daughter Ally, who after being inspired by a Habitat for Humanity build, decided to attend an international build in Mongolia. Even though she was too young to participate in the build itself, she relished in her role of providing water and food to everyone working. She enjoyed the trip so much, she later traveled to Macedonia for another build, still only 17. Her initiative, enthusiasm and desire to give back reflect qualities shared amongst her generation. She is teaching herself about how to make a difference and what to do to create a future around that – just like many others in her generation.
3. Their rampant social media use brings about more good deeds.
Whether I am on a Habitat build or a charity walk, I watch millennials live post selfies constantly to showcase the good they are doing. They post, their friends and families share, and the impact is exponential! And wouldn’t you know, us Gen X’ers and Y’ers, we suddenly start doing the same thing! With the rise of social media, millennials are empowered by technology, and they now have more tools to drive change than any previous generations. Since they’re used to using social media to connect to each another—and even to those in power—millennials possess a set of tools that make widespread social movements possible.
The world revolves around social media for millennials. When a good deed is done, the first thing they do is take a selfie and share it. And by posting about it, this not only instantly brings awareness to the cause, but also encourages others to follow suit. More often than not, when something goes viral – it is because it was pushed by millennials!
4. Millennials aren’t about owning things
“Why won’t they leave home already?” Not only are they fine living with their parents, but I’ve also found that millennials tend to be less tied to material possessions. Services like Uber, Zipcar and AirBNB have created a culture of sharing, and millennials are actually more inclined to pay for a service as opposed to buying and owning something. This mindset often flows perfectly into the idea of sharing with those less fortunate and giving back to a community in need.
The inclination to share rather than own also leaves many millennials with income that they’re then able to give back to the causes they most care about. Now more than ever, the culture of sharing with others and giving back is becoming the norm, and I believe we owe a lot of that to millennials.
Millennials have changed the landscape of how we work and enjoy our lives. An open-minded generation, they are willing to give back, and they see the inherent good in doing so. With the internet and social media at their fingertips, millennials show that giving back is fun, and that excitement and passion encourages their peers to follow suit. Millennials are not a group to be feared; they are a generation to be emulated. With their help and leadership, we are all going to change the world… for good!