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Simon Sinek Explains How Corporations Can “Fix” Millennials in the Workforce

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You Can Work With Millennials & Be Productive

By 2025, Millennials will comprise 75% of the global workforce. With those in the Millennial generation occasionally under fire for their perceived entitlement and self-interest, what does this mean for the economy? What does this mean for corporations?

In this incredible, eye-opening interview, Simon Sinek not only breaks down what difficulties Millennial-generation employees present but how corporations can actually help “fix” Millennials. Sinek discusses four main areas where Millennials get stuck—and how corporations can help.

1. Parenting

According to Sinek, the Millennial Generation has been subjected to failed parenting strategies. As children, they were often told that they were special. That they could have or be whatever they wanted. Often, they were given medals just for participation instead of actually winning, a practice that can substantially decrease self-esteem.

And that’s where Millennials have the most trouble in the workforce. Suddenly, after years of being coddled at school and at home, they are told that they aren’t really that special. That they have to work really hard to achieve results, and that there are no participation medals.

This leads to low self-esteem, which can prevent Millennials from really thriving in a workplace.

Millennials in the Workplace
Millennials in the workplace suffer from low self esteem.

2. Technology

Sinek reminds us throughout this talk that the Millennial generation grew up with social media as a coping mechanism. And indeed, he discusses the biochemical reactions that we receive from social media interactions. Getting a like on Facebook? Getting a series of hearts on Instagram? All of this triggers a rush of dopamine similar to addictions like alcohol, gambling, or drugs. Adolescents learn to rely on social media and technology for a synthetic burst of dopamine.

At the same time as social media triggers happy chemicals in the brain, it also provokes depression. Think about it: do people generally post their failures on Facebook or their ugliest pictures on Instagram. No, they’re using these social media accounts to filter real-life experiences, to put a patina of happiness on challenging lives. The result of this is that Millennials can often feel lesser-than after seeing a series of happy, successful posts. But because it triggers a high, they keep turning to social media.

Sinek argues that this hard-wiring of social media as a coping mechanism denies people in the Millennial Generation from developing close, meaningful relationships. They never had to practice the slow and steady cultivating of friends; it’s a more superficial online experience. They know their friends will ditch them if a greater opportunity arises. At work, this significantly impacts their ability to build relationships with colleagues and supervisors.

3. Impatience

The Millennial Generation is used to instant gratification. Want a new pair of headphones? Order it on Amazon, and have it two days later delivered to your doorstep. Want to watch a show? You don’t have to wait for episodes: with Netflix, you can binge-watch the entire season at once. Want to go on a date? Don’t go out and do the hard work of meeting people: just download a dating app and swipe right.

When Millennials get to work, they feel instantly demoralised because nothing at work happens quickly enough to satisfy their desire for instant gratification. Sinek makes an amazing analogy: Millennials stand at the base of a mountain at work. The “impact” they want to make is the summit, but they’re too short-sighted to see the mountain they have to climb to actually get there.

4. Environment

So what happens when people in the Millennial generation are dropped into a corporate environment? Generally, they’re just seen as another cog in a machine. Corporations concerned with short-term growth won’t look at the long-term growth of Millennials as individuals. Remember: they want to make an impact. They were raised to believe that they have the ability to do so.

So if they’re dropped into an environment without good leadership, they instantly feel completely useless. All those issues with low self-esteem come to bear. They blame themselves for not making an impact when really they’ve just been dropped into an unsuitable environment.

Here’s How Corporations can Help

Corporations need to step in where parents and society failed to help build up the low self-esteem of the Millennial Generation. Treat them as valuable members of an organisation, because that’s what they are. Good leadership means that every individual in a corporation can see their place in it—and feels like a valued member of the team.

This comes from teaching kids that nothing is going to happen overnight. That impact they’re desperate to make? There’s no such thing as achieving that immediately. Foster long-term growth by encouraging Millennials to stick to their goals, reminding them that in the work world, impact takes time.

Help them foster relationships with colleagues so they can start building those deep, meaningful connections. There should be no cell phones in conference rooms. Period. People should use the time in and around meetings to converse with each other, build rapport, and actually gain human connection.


People in the Millennial Generation need to have their abilities fostered. In the corporate environment, this means building up their self-esteem, helping them balance their technological dependencies, teaching them that it takes time to build an impact, and providing good leadership so they feel valued in the corporate environment.

If you’re interested in learning actionable steps towards team building and connection to motivate the powerful Millennial workforce, contact us today at Unique Team Building.

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