Millennials Shaping the Workplace

In my mind, I thought the Creative Class was limited to those under the stereotypical artist category, but Richard Florida, in The Rise of the Creative Class: Revisited, states,” the distinguishing characteristic of the Creative Class is that its members engage in work whose function is to ‘create meaningful new forms’” (38). So, this definition is not limited to photographers, architects, and painters. It’s open to scientists and entrepreneurs, as well.  Florida continues on to name some of the factors the Creative Class values in the workplace, such as flexibility, peer recognition, location, challenge and “work [ing] on ‘exciting projects,’ ‘great technology,’ and important stuff’” (71). Money isn’t necessarily a top priority and is overruled by the expectations of being treated as an individual and valued by a company.

Back in September, I was at a birthday party and making small talk with others in the room. I was definitely the youngest person there and I felt a sense of judgment whenever I talked about what I was majoring in or what I planned to do with my time after graduating from college. One particular conversation went like this:

Adult party-goer: “So, do you know what you want to do after you graduate?”

Me: “I’m not really sure. Work creatively.”

Adult party-goer: “It’s difficult to get a job in the creative fields.”

Me: “I know. I just want to work somewhere where I feel valued and I’m creating what I love and not selling out for money.”

Adult party-goer (in condescending voice): “Wow. That’s such a Millennial way of thinking. A lot of young people romanticize finding a job and it just doesn’t work like that.”


Besides the fact that I felt like this party-goer gave me a slap in the face and was trying to crush my dreams, he did leave me thinking about this ‘Millennial way of thinking.’ I’ve heard my fair share of negative thoughts about my generation. We spend all the hard-earned money our parents make, expect a ‘participation award’ trophy for every little thing we do, and take jobs, not because they will support us financially, but because we want to be appreciated at work and create art. At the same time, Millennials have a number of amazing qualities that create a drive in the workplace. As I read Florida’s book, I found myself agreeing with a lot of his points. Yes, I want to be more than just another number. I want to have flexible working hours. I want to wear a t-shirt and jeans to the office! So I found myself identifying with the Creative Class workers. At the same time, I felt as though those characteristics also fell into another identity of my life: Millennial.


A trophy for all the Millennials!

In many ways, the name, ‘Creative Class,’ can be substituted with, ‘Millennials.’ There are many parallels between these two groups. Take for example the idea of the participation award. Every kid that played soccer received a trophy just for being on the team and Generation Y is said to expect praise for everything they do. In the working world, this can be seen as peer recognition. The Creative Class is said to take jobs less for the money, and more for the type of content they will be creating. One can argue that while growing up, there was a larger emphasis to find work that is enjoyed and celebrated. These are obviously very negative ways about looking Millennials and there are people in this generation that are very hard working and trying to establish themselves, but the point that I’m trying to make is that perhaps, generation sculpts the workplace. The workplace is evolving, just as the last of the Millennials is in search of a job. Millennials are demanding more autonomy in their careers and are seeing the changes they want. Under this logic, the workplace will continue to be fluid, changing with the generations. If the workplace continues to try and cater to the people, perhaps we can see more job security, higher pay, and ethical treatment for those trying to make a living in the Creative Industries.

(Here’s an interesting article about our friend, Mr. Rogers and his effect on Millennials.)

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