What we can learn from millennials

The generation coming up after Gen Z is already being referred to by some as Generation Alpha.
The generation coming up after Gen Z is already being referred to by some as Generation Alpha.PHOTO: ST FILE

Pold millennials (The 19+: Who they are, what they want, May 12).

They want work that is meaningful to them and perceive work-life balance as sacrosanct. Pay is secondary in keeping them motivated.

Born into relative wealth, they are less materialistic and place importance on pursuits of higher order and self-fulfilment.

Contrary to popular belief, they read newspapers and books, albeit in a different form.

They are not as self-centred as we perceive them to be, although they do spend a lot of time on their devices.

Through this connectivity, they know how to make themselves heard.

They form their world views early in life through travel and with the accessibility of information. Thus, they are aware of their choices in a wider world, which makes them mobile and true citizens of the world.

Millennials also harbour wholesome views on marriage and procreation. They respect equal partnership and plan their finances shrewdly together.

They do not see authority figures as authoritative, as they can double-check what is fed to them.

They have a great sense of mission and participate in causes they believe in. They thrive on autonomy at work, which makes the gig economy a natural habitat.

In many ways, they are different from their forebears.

In the early years of nationhood, many people were thankful for a job, which they kept for life. These people tended to scrimp and save, and relied less on credit. As society developed, more people jumped on the material bandwagon and borrowed to the hilt so as to upgrade ceaselessly. Debt gave them fewer choices.

These people were not worldly wise at 19. They relied on mainstream media and the few who travelled abroad to shape their world views.

Travel was a luxury that few could afford. Instead, people made arduous trips to the library to gain knowledge.

Male-dominated households were the norm. Gay marriage was unheard of. People were unquestioning towards authority figures. They saw job-hopping as having a lack of commitment.

In many ways, they did not know better nor did they dare to.

In contrast, millennials seem more secure about who they are and are brave enough to find their place in the sun. What can we learn from them?

Lee Teck Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2019, with the headline 'What we can learn from millennials'. Print Edition | Subscribe