Our parents insisted we were lazy. Their parents thought they were lazy. Now, many of us are looking at our millennial children and making the same claim. If only they were more like us, they’d be more successful. If only their participation trophies were replaced with clear rankings and reflected earned accolades. Right?
We think this because we’re only looking at the world through our lens, which began pre-internet and has been spent trying to keep pace with accelerating innovation. Meanwhile, Millennials have grown up in a virtual community that ranks and rewards its members by level of engagement and the meaningfulness of their contributions. Taking a minute to understand the lens through which they see the world and what motivates them to contribute to it could be key to solving our driver and employee shortages over the long term.
The American Transportation Research Institute recently published a study that seeks to help motor carriers do just this. In the study, which focuses on ways to integrate younger adults into the trucking industry, ATRI pointed to polling indicating that only 29% of millennials feel engaged at work. But this wasn’t due to laziness. In fact, Millennials are more likely to want to feel engaged than their Gen Z counterparts and are looking for work they feel is meaningful. If they can’t find it, they’ll disengage. This is reflected in their preferences for a coaching feedback model in which managers or supervisors provide “more frequent, preemptive, and specific communication about their job performance.” When they receive this feedback and understand what achievement looks like in their role, their engagement climbs to 72%. This is reflected in the 87% of millennials who consider professional growth and development critical to their work life, compared to only 69% of older generations.
Millennials aren’t lazy, they’re just motivated less by their paycheck and more by their role in the organization and having an opportunity to contribute to a meaningful endeavor. Fortunately for trucking, the essentiality of our mission provides just such an opportunity. It’s on us to communicate this and provide the coaching and feedback they are thirsting for and will help them succeed.