I was lucky enough to work for a purpose-driven company for 25 years. The Flight Centre Travel Group’s purpose is “To open up for the world for those who want to see”.

This was a purpose that aligned with its team members as well as customers. Knowing you have made a difference by creating amazing travel experiences for customers and for myself to have, from the age of 23, the opportunity to travel to 34 countries was incredible.

Millennials now make up more of the workforce than any other generation

The research shows that many millennials place a high value on purpose. As this generation ages it will likely become more, not less, motivated by purpose as a sense of self and desire to contribute comes to the fore.

Emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman recently noted, “It’s a safe bet ‘purpose’ is on track to become a stronger organisational imperative.”

This is not to say that millennials don’t care about their salaries and benefits. After all, this generation faces starting a family while still paying off student loans, difficulty entering the property market and a volatile global economy.

Millennials aren’t afraid to leave if purpose doesn’t align

Millennials don’t think of career advancement in terms of seniority and time of service. Progression is not necessarily linear — results matter more than tenure. Millennials are much more likely than previous generations to speak up if they are unhappy with their work-life, or they will simply find another job.

What’s different about Millennials? This report on Australian Millennials gives some helpful context on where this generation is coming from:

  • They are the first digitally native generation — giving them ease and competence with technology and expectations around quick solutions and progress over perfection
  • Australian millennials grew up in an economically prosperous time — as a result, they are optimistic, self-assured, and socially focused
  • They are the first generation to be raised on a first-name basis with adult peers — they do not have the same regard for hierarchy as previous generations
  • They have been rewarded for the effort of participation rather than competition (think school sports)
  • They have access online to unlimited knowledge and expect personalised and customisable experiences
  • They live in a review economy where they expect to have the opportunity to share their opinions freely.

So, what does this mean for you?

Profit matters, however, millennials are seeking businesses that have a purpose beyond making a profit. Do you have a clear purpose that you articulate to your people?

Here are some examples of purpose statements:

Microsoft: Empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more

Patagonia: To save our home planet

Apple: To create products that enrich people’s daily lives

Costco: Profits Revolve Around Ethics

Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to renewable energy.

The purpose-driven millennial

Considerations for retaining and motivating millennials include:

  1. Understanding where they fit in with achieving the purpose is huge for millennials. They seek agency over their careers, value learning and development and are much more motivated and engaged when they recognise that they are contributing.
  2. In a recent survey, almost 90% of respondents considered the need to understand the overall business and how they can contribute important or very important.
  3. They want to feel challenged, empowered, and accountable for their performance. Command and control leadership that is overly focused on roles and responsibilities rather than contribution will not get the most out of its millennials.
  4. Instead, focus on building trusting relationships, setting expectations and providing clear feedback — this fuels the millennial work ethic!

Being a purpose and commercially-led business are not mutually exclusive —

Profit is the outcome of how well you look after your people and your customers.

So, what’s your purpose? Why do you do what you do? And how are you demonstrating it?