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Some time ago, I sat on a panel for the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators as a millennial representative on the topic of Next Generation Governance.
The key questions that we were asked to discuss were as follows:
- Is my organisation paying attention to relevant social issues?
- Are today’s procedures and controls capable of addressing tomorrow’s challenges?
- How successfully are we communicating the ‘conscience’ of our organisation?
The statistics gathered by this organisation, which is based in the United Kingdom, through their disseminated survey, gave an insight into the opinions of millennials where these areas are concerned, particularly around the impact of legislation on oversight, the role of technology in addressing governance challenges and the relevance of financial inequity as it relates to governance.
Throughout the discussion, it became clear that millennials in these professions were passionate about the role of increased governance and improving the conscience of the organisation in addressing many inequities.
However, what stood out to me was a question, or rather, a statement from a member of the audience, who was clearly frustrated with the work ethic of millennials.
She pointed out the difficulties she experienced in engaging millennials, particularly when it came to working overtime. In her time, persons worked overtime without question and stayed loyal to companies over many years.
The question of millennial loyalty has come up, not only in the workplace, but in other areas such as relationships and politics. We are perceived by some as ready to give up too easily and take flight at the first opportunity.
In some respects, I agree that we do.
However, as I posed to this lady, is it unreasonable to be paid for time served? Is it reasonable to ask someone to stay in a relationship, be it professional or otherwise, that does not align with your intrinsic values, that does not treat you well or help you to grow?
If your organisation does not have a good governance structure and your efforts to make change have fallen on deaf ears, would it be reasonable to expect someone to stay in such an environment, especially if other opportunities to grow have been presented?
The real question then, is not why do millennials, and by extension Gen Z, leave these relationships, but why do Generation X and Baby Boomers stay?
Why are the latter generations so silent when they witness acts of corruption, bad behavior and poor governance practices, preferring mainly to share stories and encourage the notion that things will never change?
Why are these generations loyal to companies, significant others and political parties that have exhibited values that run contrary to what we know is better?
My answer then, is that millennials DO exhibit loyalty, as I have witnessed in my places of employment and the many companies that I have audited. I have seen engaged millennials share their ideas and work hard, often sacrificing many hours, months or years on projects that they are passionate about, which have helped their organisations to grow. They are usually also the first to embrace new ideas and technologies.
However, we are much more selective as to whom our loyalty is extended to. We are loyal to those who mentor us, treat us with respect and look to work with us rather than bend us to only their way of doing things.
We do not always get it right, I will be the first to admit that, and we are learning as we go. My hope is that in the same way we have learned a great deal from the older generations, that they too, take a leaf from our books and realise that partnering with us can lead to many great things.
*Krystle Howell, CPA, CIA, COSO, ALMI, ACS, aka Mavis, is an Internal Auditor by profession, avid artist and a lover of dance.