In his book, The Great Degeneration, Niall Ferguson writes about how membership to civil organizations has declined significantly in the last hundred years, both in the USA and the UK. By civil organizations, he means everything from charities, to museums, to Girl Scouts, to the Rotary Club.
From my end, it’s not hard to see why this decline has happened. We spend so much time at work now (including the commute), so we increasingly have to get our sense of civil participation at the office, not outside it.
Which means the community focus of our workplace, i.e. our company’s place in the community and or our place within that, is an increasingly large part of our self-identity.
So when they talk about how Millennials are suddenly needing to find so much “meaning” at work, a lot of that is about community context. They need to feel like what they do is relevant to the world they aspire to live in.
If you work at a large institution with deep roots in the community, like University of Miami, this is all pretty obvious.
It’s less obvious if your company is just driven by making money. Trust me, it’s not. There are other drivers also at work.
Just ask any Millennial…