Guest Host: Indira Lakshmanan

Millennials – people ages 18 to 34 – today make up the largest share of the U.S. workforce. They have the education and tech savvy companies want, but demand more of their jobs and employers than previous generations. New research shows flexibility is a top concern for millennials in choosing where to take a job – and whether to stay. To attract and retain young talent, many companies are trying to adapt to the needs of this group. That can mean relaxed dress codes, offering the option to work from home, more opportunities for travel and including millennials in business decisions. But as millions of high school and college students prepare to graduate this spring, today’s job market may not give them the freedom they’d like to find meaningful, flexible work. A look at the millennial-majority workforce, and prospects for new graduates.

Guests

  • Brigid Schulte staff writer, The Washington Post; author, "Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time"
  • Lauren Rikleen president, Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership; executive-in-residence, Boston College Center for Work & Family; author of "You Raised Us - Now Work With Us: Millennials, Career Success, and Building Strong Workplace Teams"
  • Anthony Carnevale director and research professor, Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University
  • Meredith Persily Lamel professor, American University School of Public Affairs; management consultant and executive coach

Poll: Tell Us About Your Job

Infographic: "Generation Go"

EY - Infographic: Millennials Generation Go

Welcome to the Spring 2015 edition of the EY Eurozone forecast: outlook for financial services.

Transcript

  • 10:06:54

    MS. INDIRA LAKSHMANANThanks for joining us. I'm Indira Lakshmanan of Bloomberg News sitting in for Diane Rehm. Diane's having a voice treatment. Millennials, now the largest group of workers in the U.S., have a different set of priorities from older generations when it comes to their careers. Research shows job security and money may be taking a backseat for this group in favor of work they feel passionate about, but which is flexible and allows time for family.

  • 10:07:18

    MS. INDIRA LAKSHMANANA recent study even suggests 40 percent of young U.S. workers would be willing to leave the country for better parental leave policies. Here in the studio with me to discuss how millennials fit into the workforce today and what new grads can expect as they enter the job market is Brigid Schulte of The Washington Post, Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown University and Meredith Persily Lamel, a management consultant and executive coach.

  • 10:07:43

    MS. INDIRA LAKSHMANANAnd joining us by phone from Philadelphia is Lauren Rikleen of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership. We want to hear from millennials and members of other generations, too. Are you a millennial? Do you work with one? Take our poll at drshow.org. We'll be talking about some of the results later in the program. And, as always, we'll be taking your questions and your comments all through the hour.

  • 10:08:06

    MS. INDIRA LAKSHMANANCall us at 800-433-8850. Send us an email to drshow@wamu.org or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter. Welcome to all of you.

  • 10:08:19

    MS. BRIGID SCHULTEThanks so much.

  • 10:08:19

    MR. ANTHONY CARNEVALEHi.

  • 10:08:20

    LAKSHMANANBrigid, I want to start with you. There is new research out about the priorities of millennials today when it comes to work. What's the most important thing to this group?

  • 10:08:29

    SCHULTEWell, it's really interesting. Work/life balance really shows up as among the most important things. This is a generation that numerous surveys have shown that finding jobs with meaning and purpose is very important, if not paramount, but also having flexibility in when, how and where they work is really important.

  • 10:08:54

    LAKSHMANANSo has the definition of success actually changed for millennials, Brigid?

  • 10:08:58

    SCHULTEWell, that's interesting. Again, you've got to understand that these are young people who are just starting out in the workforce so they're still very idealistic, very hopeful, very optimistic and at this point, yes, their definition of success is not the big house with the car and a lot of stuff as it has been for previous generations.

  • 10:09:19

    LAKSHMANANTony Carnevale, what is unique about this generation's economic situation and their earning capacity?

  • 10:09:25

    CARNEVALEThey're the first generation who've had to live by the new rules for learning and earning. Essentially, in the old industrial economy, you could make enough money to form a family by age 25 or 26, which would be the median hourly earnings for all Americans. Nowadays, in order to get that wage, which is essentially attraction for family formation, you have to work and get experience through age 32.

  • 10:09:53

    CARNEVALESo they're essentially trying to negotiate a new phase in the lifecycle that didn't exist in the '70s and '80s for the vast majority of Americans.

  • 10:10:04

    LAKSHMANANSo they're actually reaching the median earning capacity or median wage at a later time. Is that also affecting their ability to start families?

  • 10:10:11

    CARNEVALEYes. We know that family formation is very tightly tied to family income and time. And one of the difficulties is that in order to succeed in this high pressure economy, what we know is that overwork is the key to success and people are rebelling against that, have been for some time.

  • 10:10:33

    LAKSHMANANAnd how do student loans play into this?

  • 10:10:35

    CARNEVALEIn order to get through this new phase in the lifecycle, the accumulation of human capital beyond high school which was not required in the industrial economy, 75 percent of us had high school only and the vast majority of those workers were in the middle class. That has essentially flipped and now, about 65 percent of jobs require some kind of formal post-secondary education and training and work experience.

  • 10:11:02

    CARNEVALESo they run a gauntlet between age 18 and 32 trying to make their way into a position where they can form a family.

  • 10:11:09

    LAKSHMANANAnd the student loan debt is higher than it's been for any previous generation, right?

  • 10:11:13

    CARNEVALEThe burdens on them in terms of time and money are unprecedented. It is still worth it to do what they do, to take loans and go to college. It pays. But college is an odd duck these days. It is still worth it. It's a million dollars over a high school degree over a career, but we can't afford it and it's squeezing lots of people who don't have parents with checkbooks and big bank accounts.

  • 10:11:38

    LAKSHMANANAnd also, forcing them, perhaps, to take some work they wouldn't want to take to have the ability to pay off those loans. Meredith Persily Lamel, you work with executives and leaders who are trying to incorporate millennials into the workforce. What challenges are they facing in adapting to the needs of this group or not adapting perhaps?

  • 10:11:56

    MS. MEREDITH PERSILY LAMELWell, I think, everyone has been talking about the millennials as the trophy generation so the generation where everyone is a winner and lots of positive feedback. And so that transition has been very difficult for millennials and so their managers find them to be very needy. They feel like they need lots of positive reinforcement, positive feedback that they, when they were coming up, didn't get and have a hard time giving that, given that they, you know, we able to survive without it.

  • 10:12:25

    MS. MEREDITH PERSILY LAMELThey also find that they need a lot of direction so one of the interesting things about the way the education system has changed is that this is a generation that was taught to the test, given very specific directions around what it meant to be successful in school and that's very difficult when you get into the workforce because for entry-level positions, a lot of managers just want to be left alone and they want that work just to get done.

  • 10:12:52

    MS. MEREDITH PERSILY LAMELAnd they find that these millennials need a lot of support, need a lot of feedback...

  • 10:12:59

    LAKSHMANANHand-holding even.

  • 10:13:00

    LAMELA lot of hand-holding and direction and they don't really want to take the time and, you know, get really frustrated. And if the millennials don't get that attention, they go on to the next job. That's their reputation.

  • 10:13:13

    LAKSHMANANLauren Rikleen, why are bosses having trouble understanding the needs of this younger generation? Does it have something to do with differences in the family circumstances or composition of their families at these different ages?

  • 10:13:26

    MS. LAUREN RIKLEENWell, I think the difficult is that bosses are not connecting up their role as parents with the way certain traits and qualities in which so many millennials were raised play out once they are in the workplace. And that's what really has fascinated me about this generation. And, you know, when I wrote this book, "You Raised Us, Now Work With Us," my impetus was the idea that you're constantly hearing negative things from baby boomers in the workplace.

  • 10:14:01

    MS. LAUREN RIKLEENMost of whom have millennial children, who raised them to be empowered and keep their dreams and do whatever they want to do and speak up and get out there and find their path and then they send their kids out in the workplace and then other kids who are similarly raised come into their own workplace and drive them crazy and they're not connecting up these behaviors. And that's really the nub of what is both so fascinating and frustrating for purposes of the workplace and adjusting to these issues is that lack of connection.

  • 10:14:37

    LAKSHMANANSo Brigid, we've raised a trophy generation. We've told everyone that they need to focus on their own needs and their own happiness. This is what we tell our children. So are we raising our kids to be people who we really don't want to work with?

  • 10:14:49

    SCHULTEWell, I think these are really good questions. You know, some people have called this generation not just the trophy generation, but the bubble-wrapped generation. They've been overscheduled. They've been overprotected. We've sent them in the middle and upper middle class to cello lessons and soccer and every manner of activity you can imagine.

  • 10:15:11

    SCHULTEAnd so by the time that they do get into college or into the workplace and it's time for them to figure out what they like and who they are, it's often very difficult because they have been so scheduled. But at the same time, they've often done exactly what they -- the world has sort of revolved around them, in a sense, and so there is this sense when they do get into the workplace, a lot of different surveys show they fully expect, I want work/life balance, this is important to me, I want flexibility...

  • 10:15:41

    LAKSHMANANAnd my parents told me I deserve it.

  • 10:15:42

    SCHULTERight.

  • 10:15:43

    LAKSHMANANMy teachers told me I'm great.

  • 10:15:45

    SCHULTEI'm entitled. There is this sense of entitlement that does drive baby boomers crazy who sort of, you know, you just kept your head down and worked really hard. And there is this sense, like, if I don't get it, I'm going to walk. And you've got executives saying that and you've got a whole generation willing to do that in their perspective and so they are trying to figure out, for the talent, for the people who have the technological expertise and the skills that perhaps older generations don't, they're such digital natives and they need them as their workplaces change, how do they capture them and how do they give them that flexibility so they don't walk?

  • 10:16:18

    LAKSHMANANLauren Rikleen, there are all these stereotypes about millennials, that they're entitled, you know, are those fair?

  • 10:16:27

    RIKLEENI don't think they're fair, actually. I mean, I think so many of these stereotypes have become very popular and repeated frequently. But I think -- so, for example, when we talk about entitlement of millennials, I really don't see it as entitlement. What my research shows is that really what we're talking about is a generation raised with more focus on becoming self confident young adults and having a sense of self respect than any generation before it.

  • 10:17:00

    RIKLEENNo other generation was raised by their parents with a focus on being confident. The unfortunate part is that we probably didn't place enough emphasis on what self confidence looks like when it is not sufficiently tempered with modesty and humility once in the workplace. So what I find is that people become uncomfortable or they misread behavior as entitlement, but I do think it is more a sense of self confidence that has been imbued in them from the start. They also...

  • 10:17:37

    LAKSHMANANHold that thought. Modesty and humility, key things that all of should be carrying into our workplace. We're gonna take a short break and I look forward to hearing from you listeners with your comments and questions. Stay with us.

  • 10:20:01

    LAKSHMANANWelcome back. I'm Indira Lakshmanan. I'm sitting for Diane Rehm. We're talking about millennials, they're needs, they're wishes and what's actually reality. What's available out there in the workforce? Don't forget, we're looking to hear from you. What's important to you in a job? Are you an employee? Are you an employer? And have you made some changes?

  • 10:20:20

    LAKSHMANANTake our poll at drshow.org. And we're gonna share the results later in the hour. In the studio we have Brigid Schulte, staff writer for The Washington Post and author of "Overwhelmed, Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time." Boy, we all feel that way. And no matter what our age is. Anthony Carnevale, director and research professor for Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

  • 10:20:44

    LAKSHMANANMeredith Persily Lamel, professor at American University School of Public Affairs and also a management consultant and an executive coach. And on the phone from Philadelphia, Lauren Rikleen, president of the Rikleen Institute for strategic leadership and an executive in residence at Boston College's Center for Work and Family. She's also the author of "You Raised Us, Now Work with Us, Millennials, Career Success, and Building Strong Workplace Teams."

  • 10:21:08

    LAKSHMANANAll right. Lauren, on that thought, before the break we were talking with you about that very point. You raised us, now work with us. I've got an email here from Greta, in Arlington, who says, "I recognize what you describe as millennials' priorities. My daughter is of that group. And I totally agree with the things she wants for herself. I share those feelings, even though I'm 60."

  • 10:21:27

    LAKSHMANANSo can you take that question for us, Lauren? I mean, is this an unfair perception of millennials as being overly privileged? Or are they just asking for something that everyone else has always wanted?

  • 10:21:39

    RIKLEENI love that comment because it is, you know, the one thing I raise every time I do any training or speaking is, I will close by saying, here are the things millennials are looking for in the workplace. And then I list them. You know, feedback, employers who care about their growth and development, access to good technology, flexible work arrangements, you know, a workplace where people care about each other and their growth and development.

  • 10:22:10

    RIKLEENYou know, and a few more other items. And then I'll ask the question, is there anybody in this room that wouldn't want to be in a workplace that looks like this? So the real issue is, will millennials be able to push the dialogue in the workplace to make the substantial change that's been needed for so long?

  • 10:22:29

    LAKSHMANANYeah, it's a good question. Meredith Persily Lamel, we've got baby boomers now running the C Suite. We've got Generation X as middle management and rising up towards the C Suite. And meanwhile, their workers and the people to whom they're looking for innovation and new ideas, not to mention hard labor are the millennials. So how, what do we do to create better understanding between the generations in the workplace?

  • 10:22:55

    LAMELI think it really does start with education and learning about the different generations, what's important to them and how they got to where they are. Right? So Generation X, for example, is known as the latchkey generation. And that generation, which is my generation, is ultra-autonomous. That's, that's what we mean by latchkey generation. The divorce rate skyrocketed during the childhood of Gen X-ers.

  • 10:23:24

    LAMELAnd so you have this very autonomous generation up against the millennials, which is not known to be ultra-autonomous, quite the opposite. And so it's important to understand that when there are these conflicts in the workforce, where they're coming from and why these differences exist. And in my training programs, I really focus on, you know, at the end of the day, Gen X-ers, these things frustrate you.

  • 10:23:49

    LAMELIt's not the way you were brought up, but if you want to get the most out of your workforce, if you want to work millennials and get them to be great workers, you have to appreciate why they are where they are and leverage it.

  • 10:24:03

    LAKSHMANANBrigid Schulte, doesn't this also, though, depend on what is the, you know, home circumstances of people who were baby boomers and Gen X-ers versus people who are millennials? I'm thinking about how many are dual-working families and how many of those baby boomers actually have someone at home, taking care of everything at home for them. So maybe work-life balance isn't as much of an issue.

  • 10:24:25

    SCHULTEWell, it's very interesting. And the report that I recently wrote about in The Washington Post, it was done by Ernst, Ernst and Young. And they looked at 10,000 workers in eight different countries around the globe. And what they found was very interesting, that in the millennial generation close to 80 percent of the workers are in dual-income working families. For Gen-X, it's about 73 percent. But for baby boomers, the people who are in the C Suites and the bosses, it's about 47 percent.

  • 10:24:54

    LAKSHMANANWow.

  • 10:24:55

    SCHULTESo Gen-X and millennials are one and a half times more likely to have both partners in a relationship working in the workforce and trying to juggle it all. So in the report, they called it an empathy gap, that there is just this lack of understanding, that the boss may not get it, that your life is crazy and that you can't, as Anthony said, you're really not able to do those overwork hours that have become so mythologized and valued in our workplaces, that when you have two people trying to do work and life, you just can't work those hours.

  • 10:25:29

    LAKSHMANANBrigid, you also point out that millennials are seen as valuable because they're tech savvy, they have high education, but they're also willing to walk if they don't get what they want. So how much negotiating power and leverage do they actually have?

  • 10:25:43

    SCHULTEWell, and that's a really interesting question. And this was something that the CEO of PriceWaterhouseCoopers brought up at the White House Conference on Working Families last summer. And he was talking about how many in corporate America see, you know, I don't know if you want to call it a loyalty gap, but this sense that the way they want to live is so important that if they don't get it, they will walk. And that companies, certain companies are certainly taking that into account and noticing that.

  • 10:26:14

    LAKSHMANANWe have a tweet from Alex that speaks to that. It says, "Work is not my life. We have different priorities in our generation. I don't want my kids to be latchkey like I was. I want to be there for them." Interesting. So, Alex sounds like willing to stay home more, as needed. We have a tweet from Katelyn, who says, "I totally agree. Priorities have shifted and personally I would move from my job if the hire-ups did not accommodate me."

  • 10:26:40

    LAKSHMANANTony, your Center today published a report on the lifetime economic value of more than 100 college majors. All right. This is valuable information we need to know. So what does it tell us that millennials should be focused on?

  • 10:26:56

    CARNEVALEIn the end, it points to a larger point, which I think is missed in this conversation oftentimes. And that is millennials live in a very different material reality than previous generations, that is they are on their own. They're fools if they're loyal to their employers. In the end, they have to be loyal to their skills. And they were raised by parents who lived through the '70s and '80s who saw what happened to people, whether you're an industrial worker at GM or who saw the great downsizing of America.

  • 10:27:25

    CARNEVALEAnd you better raise independent, flexible, self-reliant kids. Part of that is it takes away a lot of their options. So if you go to college now, what really matters is not whether you get a degree anymore, what matters is what you take. What you take will determine what you make. If you major in petroleum engineering, you'll make $3.4 million over a high school degree in your career. If you major in psychology, you'll make about $600,000 more.

  • 10:27:54

    CARNEVALESo the options that people had before when any college degree brought you a college wage, it's just not true anymore. Now, we're talking about by field of study. So if you get a one-year certificate in heating, ventilation and air conditioning, you can make more than about 30 percent of college graduates. So they live in a world where material power is huge. They are not empowered. They've been taught to be independent and they better be, and resilient. And they better be.

  • 10:28:27

    CARNEVALESo I think we're talking about a world in which, say between 1946 and 1980, it was cake walk, that is family incomes almost tripled. Homeownership quadrupled. Every job change was a promotion. There were always more wages, more job security. We had healthcare that was provided by employers and pensions. All that's gone. They're on their own. And so they're forced to make a bargain as individuals that other people never had to make.

  • 10:29:00

    LAKSHMANANSo what you take determines what you make. And if you train to be a heating engineer, fixing furnaces, you can make more say an art history major, which I was or a psychology graduate. So are you saying that technical majors, science, that has a higher lifetime economic value than humanities, liberal arts?

  • 10:29:21

    CARNEVALEYes. And they've shown intelligence in their choices. I think they're hard material choices, but now about 20 percent of our college degrees are in STEM, 30 percent are in business, 10 percent are in education, where you won't make a dime, but you will job security. Another 10 percent are in healthcare. They're only about 15 percent of people who actually take a humanities major. And if they do, they pay a very heavy price.

  • 10:29:49

    LAKSHMANANSo Tony Carnevale, millions of young graduates are gonna be entering the job market now. It's May. Both high school and college graduates. What are they facing out there?

  • 10:29:57

    CARNEVALEWell, they're facing better times. The American economy has not been kind to this generation. They were the first to -- had to meet new standards for skill and the economy has not rewarded them for it since 2000. We've had basically 15 years of a drought in jobs. On the other hand, the wage advantage of people with college degrees has gone up to 84 percent over a high school degree. It's almost tripled since the early 1980s.

  • 10:30:29

    CARNEVALESo, and then we've had this God-awful recession, but now that's over. And one supposes that by about 2017, the college labor market will have completely recovered. But that won't change the fact, in fact, it'll exacerbate the differences among fields of study and their success in the economy. And contrary to what a lot of people think, it's not true that if you major in English or humanities you'll catch up to the other people when you're 50. You won't. The advantages are sustained over a full career.

  • 10:30:57

    LAKSHMANANYou talk about the economic challenges that this young generation has faced. And I'm struck, are there some parallels to the silent generation, those who lived through the Great Depression and afterwards?

  • 10:31:08

    CARNEVALEIn what is similar in each of these circumstances, is they faced a -- they came into an economic context where they were relatively powerless. They came into an economic context where self-reliance was all they had. At least in these times what makes them different is that they seem to have, and I think their parents have a lot to do with this. We raised a generation who we tried to prepare for this world, that as we told them, and is essentially true, that there is a way to empower yourself.

  • 10:31:39

    CARNEVALEIt is largely with education and access to work. So the similarities are really quite striking. And they are silent to the extent that they don't know any other system. So those of us who can remember the old economy in the '70s that started to go away very rapidly in the late '70s and early '80s, we remember a different world where you showed up to work and stayed there 30, 30, 40 years and then you retired with a nice pension and a house on the lake. That does not exist anymore. They're on their own.

  • 10:32:12

    LAKSHMANANLauren Rikleen, are young people getting the counseling that they need to understand these realities and adapt to what the workforce is really like now?

  • 10:32:22

    RIKLEENWell, I think they know and understand that to some extent. And I think it depends. obviously. on their parents and their high school and all of that. But I just (unintelligible) about data and that information is, you know, I'm the parent of two millennials, one of who teaches and the other did get that masters in mental health counseling.

  • 10:32:47

    RIKLEENThey're both (unintelligible) a career that can help feed their soul and they are very much aware of the limitations on their earning capacity compared to their colleagues and friends who are in the STEM field and other areas where income potential is higher. But I can tell you when my son had the note left on his chair from the student who described how important he was and the appreciation of the extra time he puts in his life, that's why he chose that occupation.

  • 10:33:18

    RIKLEENAnd I think it goes back to this data around the importance of meaning for millennials in the work that they're doing. They want to have -- they want careers in which they can feel great about what they're doing and what they're contributing to the extent that they can do that.

  • 10:33:37

    LAKSHMANANSo fulfillment as a priority. Meredith, has our education system shaped the values that millennials are bringing to the workplace? How has it done that? And do we need to change that in some way in our classrooms?

  • 10:33:56

    LAMELI'm not sure about the values piece. I'm wondering more about…

  • 10:33:58

    LAKSHMANANI mean, in terms of the desire for fulfillment above all. Brigid, that's something you've written about a bit.

  • 10:34:10

    SCHULTEWell, you know, one of the things that strikes me about, you know, what Meredith had said earlier, that our educational system is now very much geared toward testing and teaching to the test. And yet at home, we're trying to teach the kids to be resilient and find their passion and who they are. And I think what ends up coming out that's so interesting is, in surveys that show this is a generation that very much wants to be entrepreneurial, that they're goal would eventually be to have some kind of business on their own.

  • 10:34:39

    LAKSHMANANI'm Indira Lakshmanan and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." If you'd like to join us, call 1-800-433-8850 or send us an email to drshow@wamu.org. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. So Brigid, please continue your thought about, about how the educational system is playing into this and how we can, how college counselors, for example, can be helping students as they're going out into the workforce.

  • 10:35:08

    SCHULTEWell, you know, you've got this kind of disconnect, if you will, that on the one hand they want passion and to follow their dreams and fill their souls. And then what Tony's talking about is a, in a sense, you could look at it as a very bleak reality. That, so you want to be an art history major or you want to go into the humanities. I'm an English major. You know, what do they face then when they come out?

  • 10:35:35

    SCHULTEThere's a lot of pressure to go into STEM fields. You're gonna have a lot more career stability and higher income potential. And it's really a question of is that what they really want?

  • 10:35:49

    LAKSHMANANOne…

  • 10:35:50

    RIKLEENYou know, if I could just jump in here.

  • 10:35:51

    LAKSHMANANYes, please, Lauren.

  • 10:35:52

    RIKLEENI'm Lauren. One of the -- I've seen some really interesting data that almost lends what I was saying with what Brigid was saying, with respect to this entrepreneurial piece. I've seen studies that show that approximately a third of millennials working full time also have some entrepreneurial business on the side. That means most likely they come home from their jobs and they're doing something on the internet or creating or developing some internet business to supplement their income.

  • 10:36:24

    RIKLEENIt's not clear from that data whether they're doing it in the hope that they may be another Mark Zukerberg or that they're just supplementing their income because they've chosen fields in which they need to do that. But I find that statistic really fascinating because what it shows is this resiliency and the entrepreneurial aspect that says I'm gonna do what I need to do to earn a living, but I'm keeping it within my principles as much as I can and within my goals of who I want to be.

  • 10:36:57

    LAKSHMANANWe're gonna take a short break now and when we're back, your calls and your questions. Please stay with us.

  • 10:40:01

    LAKSHMANANWelcome back. I'm Indira Lakshmanan, sitting in for Diane Rehm. We're talking about millennials and the job market and we have some early results from our online poll. 57 percent of those who are not millennials, who are older than 34, say they've been in their job for more than two years. But only 36 percent of you who are millennials out there say the same. Another 34 percent say they've been in their job for less than one year. They seem to value flexibility in hours and opportunity for advancement most when they're looking for a job followed by the opportunity to learn new skills and have a good salary.

  • 10:40:38

    LAKSHMANANYou can still take that poll at drshow.org. You know, we're getting some really interesting emails and questions from millennials that are quite different from those of non-millennials. So, I want to share some of those with you. So, we have Will who says we are being paid less than any other generation. And so, if I'm entering the work force with low pay, that teaches me to value my personal life over the pay. We have someone else, Nina, who says, as a millennial, I think working for something that we are truly passionate about is just as important as a job that pays the bills.

  • 10:41:16

    LAKSHMANANAll right, verses some of the non-millennials. The older folks who are writing in. One says, I'm a baby boomer and I come across many young interns at work and I also have several young colleagues who are in the under 30 generation, and a daughter who's in college. I've found these individuals to be hard working, and dedicated, and pleasant and sharing, so this is someone who is sticking up for the millennials here. Verses James, who doesn't feel that way. He says they're self-righteous, they have too much pride, they don't have maturity or experience. They don't have grit.

  • 10:41:52

    LAKSHMANANAnd they want hand holding, because they're not bothered with the learning process. Brigid, can you respond to that? You have talked to lots and lots of millennials for your work, not to mention folks from other generations as well. What about that?

  • 10:42:08

    SCHULTEWell, I think it's really interesting. Those two very different views are very common out there. There are some people who are very frustrated by millennials and see them as needy and hand holding, as Meredith said earlier. But there are plenty who see in the millennials finally a generation, sort of like a whole bunch of them, men and women, saying the things that people have often felt for a long time in previous generations. In terms of, wait a minute, I like my job, but I don't want to live my job. I want to have a life.

  • 10:42:36

    SCHULTEBecause it's not just millennials who want to have work/life balance. Previous generations do as well. They just didn't feel like they could.

  • 10:42:44

    LAKSHMANANWe all want it. It's just people didn't want to say it. They were afraid.

  • 10:42:47

    SCHULTEYeah. I do think it's really important, at this point, to say there are companies and corporations who are listening to this, this yearning, but also this willingness to walk away and making changes. And it's good for all of us that they are.

  • 10:43:01

    LAKSHMANANLauren, could millennials actually change workforce standards for all generations? Everyone wants work/life balance. Now that they're the largest working group, could that make a difference? Lauren Rikleen.

  • 10:43:12

    RIKLEENI fervently hope so, and keeping my fingers crossed. I truly believe the answer to that is yes. And the reason is this, demographically, they will be half of the work force by 2020. They are the largest generation, at this point, of just about exceeding the size of the baby boomer generation, who had previously been the largest. They -- the data around workplace integration is global data. I mean, it might vary some country to country, just to the degree, but you see international consistency around the importance of flexibility in the workplace.

  • 10:43:56

    RIKLEENSo, between the (word?) and the likelihood that they will not assimilate, that this is so inbred into the DNA of this generation, the importance of flexibility, and that, of course, relates to the fact that they are an incredibly tech savvy generation. They grew up so comfortable with technology that it's very hard for them to understand a base time driven workplace. Or a rule driven workplace which does not provide the flexibility that they've been so used to their entire lives and that technology provides.

  • 10:44:29

    RIKLEENSo, I feel the odds are in the favor of the workplace, that we will see a sea change happen as millennials get, you know, get the firm foothold in terms of their numbers in the workplace.

  • 10:44:41

    LAKSHMANANWell, it's interesting, because it means that it's not only influencing the opinion and view of bosses, but also of co-workers, it sounds like. I mean, we have an email from Pat in Washington, D.C., who says, I work with millennials. And at first, I thought they were selfish because they wanted to take time off, they liked working from home, but I've changed my mind. My generation sacrificed our personal lives for work and advancement and we shortchanged our family and friends. Brigid?

  • 10:45:06

    SCHULTEI think that's absolutely right. Again, in the survey that I wrote about recently, it wasn't just millennials who wanted that integration between work and life, but they're just the loudest and most honest about it. And also willing to do the most about it. I think the other thing that's very interesting about this generation is that there is really a sea change in gender roles, where you've got young men saying they don't want to be identified only with their work. And when they have families, they don't want to just be a distant paycheck.

  • 10:45:36

    SCHULTEAnd you do see companies responding to that. You've got, particularly in Silicon Valley, you've got companies who are extending parentally, not just for mothers, but for fathers, paid parental leave. Just recently, and corporate America's following, Johnson and Johnson just this week announced it was having -- it was extending its parental leave from one week of paid leave to eight weeks. And then, when you combine that with disability and other forms of paid leave, you've got up to 17 weeks of paid leave. That's huge that you've got men and women wanting those kinds of things.

  • 10:46:10

    LAKSHMANANLet's take a call from Michelle in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Michelle, go ahead. You're on the air.

  • 10:46:16

    MICHELLEHi guys. Thank you for taking my call.

  • 10:46:18

    LAKSHMANANAbsolutely.

  • 10:46:18

    MICHELLEThis is a good one. This is a hot button discussion for me. I have -- I've had a lot of success in my career and I have a son. And he's a smart, business minded kid and he has graduated with a degree. He and his girlfriend both have degrees. And they are moving out to Colorado. Now, in my day, we found a job and then moved to the destination. They are moving to Colorado because -- they'll find work when they get there. That's where they want to live. And I have confidence in him, but I just don't know how -- I have no idea how this happened, how he just, you're right. It's more important to him where he lives than what he does for a living.

  • 10:47:01

    LAKSHMANANSo, he's choosing…

  • 10:47:02

    MICHELLELike, his quality of life is more important.

  • 10:47:03

    LAKSHMANAN...he's prioritizing the place he lives over the job he gets. Thank you so much. You know, would you like to talk about that? Meredith.

  • 10:47:13

    LAMELWell, I think one of the things that progressive corporations are figuring out is that this is part of that generation and so that there are a lot of people out there who don't necessarily live near headquarters. But that doesn't mean that's not part of their potential workforce. Now, it does make his job search certainly more difficult than being somewhere where he ultimately wants to work. But he's also going to be more likely to get the kind of job that gives him additional flexibility.

  • 10:47:41

    LAMELYes, he could find a job that's based in Colorado, but he might, you know, look for a job with a company that has a really fabulous virtual work force.

  • 10:47:52

    LAKSHMANANAll right. We have got James in Charlotte, North Carolina. James, go ahead. You're on the line.

  • 10:48:00

    JAMESHi. I'm still here. Yes.

  • 10:48:00

    LAKSHMANANYes. Please go ahead.

  • 10:48:02

    JAMESHi, I'm a millennial. I'm 24. I'm a -- originally, I went to school to be a teacher, but then I joined the Marine Corps. And since then, I really feel like I've played more into my resume than my educational background. And it's paid off for veterans in my generation. Where veterans of past generations may have been forced to just re-integrate somewhere else into society, or maybe just be a police officer, because it was the closest thing they could get. There's private contract work, there's loss prevention work, there's all kinds of things that's really catering to a veteran's resume. Well, over my educational background.

  • 10:48:46

    LAKSHMANANAll right. Thank you, James. So, we have, you know, a variation on this. A millennial veteran. So, there might be some groups that are actually seeing more opportunities than others. Is that right, Tony?

  • 10:48:59

    CARNEVALEOne of the huge differences between the drafted work force, say, for the Vietnam War, the drafted military, and the modern military, is that the entry standard is much higher. So, we have a professional military that is highly skilled. The work they do, even some of the most dangerous pieces of it, requires skill. So, transitions from military life into civilian life are much easier now. It's a high tech military, it's a high tech economy. So, we're seeing a lot more success among veterans than we would have in previous generations.

  • 10:49:31

    LAKSHMANANWell, that's some good news about veterans, since we often hear such bad news about the lack of opportunities for them. Yes, Meredith?

  • 10:49:38

    LAMELAnd the military still has a more traditional management approach, too. And so, in many ways, veterans are more prepared to enter organizations that have more traditional management. Now, organizations are seeing that even in law enforcement and the military, that that passion piece that Brigid was talking about earlier, that while it was easier for previous generations to tap into that through those types of professions, you still have to do more reinforcement with millennials. Because the status or the reputation of those kinds of reputations has changed.

  • 10:50:15

    LAKSHMANANSo the military and law enforcement, more structure, more sort of traditional, and that's of course shaping the life outlook for those millennials from going into those careers.

  • 10:50:25

    CARNEVALEBut there's another reason too, and that is we now know, because of lots of research on personality, that conscientiousness has as much value as a college degree. That is, the value of people with a can-do attitude, who are conscientious about their work, pay attention to detail, complete tasks and so on, that that value has gone way up. And one of the things, arguably, that the military does teach or trains is conscientiousness. So when you hire a military, you hire a veteran, you know you're going to get somebody who shows up on time and does the work they're asked to do.

  • 10:51:02

    LAKSHMANANHopefully, yes. All right, we have an email from Ethan who's 26-years-old, who feels furious when older generations tell him that as a millennial, he's lazy and he doesn't know how good he has it. He says, I graduated from college into the worst job market in modern times with 100,000 dollars of student loan debt around my neck and they drove up the cost of tuition by 600 percent. We feel trapped, because there's so much competition for a job that will actually allow me to live and pay back my student loans. Brigid.

  • 10:51:31

    SCHULTEHe's absolutely right. There's an awful lot of frustration out there. And again, I think that's why so many millennials aren't buying into the traditional structure, because it hasn't worked and it isn't working for them.

  • 10:51:44

    LAKSHMANANYou know, we also have this comment from Brent, an email, which I think is really interesting. He says, I wonder if millennials focus on fulfillment in their job is in part to do with the fact that it's more difficult for us, as millennials, to compartmentalize work and home today, because of technology that always makes us accessible and we have less traditional roles in the home. Of course, you know, I think he's talking about men doing more in the home, in a lot of cases.

  • 10:52:08

    LAKSHMANANWe don't have the ability to struggle through with a job that we may not love and then leave that at the office when we come home. So, he says a more fulfilling job literally translates into a more fulfilling life. Lauren Rikleen.

  • 10:52:23

    RIKLEENThat is such a great point. And I do think, on a couple of levels, first of all, with respect to the issue of it being -- the changing role of men and fathers in the workplace and how they are addressing the work/life integration, I just want to note that, for example, the Boston College Center For Work and Family, every year, right around Father's Day, publishes a new study on the changing role of dads in the workplace, which really directs to the heart of how young men are grappling with these issues and how much more they seek to be a part of their family's life. So that definitely plays into the work choices that they are making.

  • 10:53:08

    RIKLEENSo, that's a huge thing. And the other pieces that I think workplaces need to understand that when we read about millennials seeking fulfilling work and meaning in their work, that does not mean that every workplace has to offer world peace as one of the things that they are addressing. But it does mean they need to think about how do you have a younger person understand why they matter in that workplace. How they, what their role is in the whole of what's trying to be accomplished.

  • 10:53:42

    RIKLEENSo they can understand and there's greater transparency around the work that they're doing and why that matters and why that has meaning in the given workplace that they're in. And the last thing I just want to say to this point is how that comment that was made about students -- I mean, this is a generation graduating with more student debt than any other demographic in history. And it is playing into their choices and their frustrations. And they come into this economy with their hopes and their dreams and, you know, looking at a world really recovering from near economic collapse.

  • 10:54:19

    RIKLEENAnd that has a huge impact on how they feel about themselves and the workplace that I think the workplace needs to be more sensitive to.

  • 10:54:28

    LAKSHMANANSo, it's not just about whether you're making world peace. You could be making widgets, but you have to understand why you're doing it, what your role is, and feel that you're making an important contribution. I'm Indira Lakshmanan and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." We have a really interesting comment here from Facebook. A 25-year-old who writes in and says, I'm experiencing immense pressure from my family to get my finances, my home, everything in order.

  • 10:54:54

    LAKSHMANANI'm one of those millennials who wants a job with meaning and life balance, but it just isn't possible. Help me. All right, so panel, you're being called upon for your expertise. So, you know, we have a few minutes left. Let's find out, you know, let's get some final pieces of advice from each of you for millennials as they're entering this job market and people like this listener, who's struggling. Did you want to start with that, Lauren?

  • 10:55:19

    RIKLEENYes. I did want to say that there is fascinating research evolving around the emerging adulthood phase of life. In other words, where all other generations went from young adult -- went from adolescents to adulthood. All the markers of a true adulthood for millennials are happening later. A lot related to the economy, but they're marrying later, having kids later, finding their way in the work force later, so there's this thought that, well, there's this new life stage called emerging adulthood.

  • 10:55:49

    RIKLEENAnd I think it makes a lot of sense and it means that we all need to take a break about our own kids and millennials need to catch a breath for themselves and understand that, yes, it is taking longer for them to find their footing, but they will find it, because they are, you know, demographically, they're better educated, they do have great resilience and optimism that they're going to be bringing with them into the work force. So, I have every confidence in this generation, and I have every confidence that they're going to be a generation that will hopefully change the workplace for the better once they get that footing.

  • 10:56:25

    LAKSHMANANBrigid, a quick piece of advice.

  • 10:56:27

    SCHULTEWell, I think that the surveys show that they're very optimistic, and so I agree with Lauren that they're going to figure it out.

  • 10:56:33

    LAKSHMANANMeredith? Your two cents?

  • 10:56:34

    LAMELMy advice for her would be to start researching jobs and start making a connection between what she wants and what's actually out there. And try things out. Intern, you know, get that experience.

  • 10:56:45

    LAKSHMANANAnd Tony. Your last words of advice.

  • 10:56:47

    CARNEVALEI think one of the -- one thing that young people need to know is that they need to go where the job is. That's why everybody goes from Iowa to Colorado. Colorado has jobs, Iowa has college graduates. So, if you're in South Carolina or someplace like that and you can't find the job you want, get out of town.

  • 10:57:04

    LAKSHMANANAll right. So, move if you need to move, vote with your feet. Thank you so much. What a really interesting hour. And really helpful, I think, for all these graduates going out into the world in May. I'm Indira Lakshmanan, sitting in for "The Diane Rehm Show." Thank you for listening.

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