The ‘purposeful millennial’ is over-hyped: debunking this myth


by GoodUp Info

“We’re over exaggerating the fantastic millennials that are supposed to be born as do-gooders. Their first sentences always start with “I”. They have a great sense about their personal purpose, but that is not always linked to ‘I want to make the world a better place.'”

– Mattijs ten Brink, CEO Transavia.

At the 5th of October, 55 senior professionals of major corporates* gathered at Purposed Conference, organised by GoodUp. Several topics were addressed, all related to “putting purpose into action”. The ‘war on talent’ was discussed intensely since we frequently hear and read about how ‘purpose’ plays a major role in it. Millennials are supposed to see ‘purpose’ as leading in their career choices. 80% of the audience of Purposed believe that “companies cannot win the war on talent if they’re not acting on their purpose”. At the same time, the Purposed visitors agreed with the statement of Mattijs ten Brink, CEO Transavia, underlining that organisations should not over-hype these millennials, since they are pretty self-centred as well.

Ten Brink shined some light on this confusing contradiction: millennials tend to have a great sense of their personal purpose. Nonetheless, this personal purpose is not necessarily linked to making the world a better place. So here you have the debunking of the myth: millennials are not born ‘do good’-ers. Is this bad, is our world doomed?! Not at all!

Solution to dealing with self-centred millennials

So what should we do then with these self-centred millennials? Ten Brink offers the solution: “I think we should enable them to link their personal purpose to the company purpose.” We should ask employees “what is it in our company that suits you, regarding purpose”. Always start with a focus on the employee, building from their personal purpose to find a match with your company’s purpose. It is not some magical potion, it is just an honest conversation about what matters to them and how they’d like to develop themselves.

*Some of the corporates that visited Purposed: Booking,Unilever, Suitsupply, KLM, NN Group, HEINEKEN, Ikea, Deloitte, Eneco, Uber, Tommy Hilfiger, TUI, AAFM Facility Management, ABN AMRO, Accenture, ADP, AkzoNobel, Atos, BDO, Bouwinvest, CARE Nederland, CGI NL, Danone, De Volksbank, EY, Interface, Nuon, ORAM, P&G, PepsiCo, PostNL, PwC, Rabobank, Royal HaskoningDHV, TenneT, Transavia, Wereldhave.