Good trumps gain: lessons on enabling millennial workers from Enactus Memorial


Lynn Morrissey

March 5, 2018

We’re in good hands with our next generation of leaders.

They want to do good and they care about having a lasting, sustainable impact.

Sustainable enterprises, sustainable communities

At Enactus Memorial, I get to see first-hand how this team of millennials works, what motivates them and what they need for success.

This group of student volunteers believes in creating lasting impact through the creation of sustainable social enterprises, a key foundation for sustainable communities.

A lot of the research currently being done on millennials is finding that generational differences are more related to stages of career and life experiences.

At Enactus, participants are all young, eager and hard-working individuals who are willing to do what it takes to achieve something they feel passionate about.

And I think that most people of older generations would say the same about themselves when they think back to when they were that age.

I asked Shaun Morrissey, a former member of Enactus Memorial, what he thinks is the biggest difference between millennials and non-millennials. His response? Goal setting. Specifically, where millennials target their goals.

“We care so much about our participants, that working to do good sometimes trumps working towards personal gain.”

Why not? Says who?

The first thing I realized about working with the millennials who comprise Enactus Memorial is that they dream big. Really big.

pull-quote-op-ed-morrissey-1No idea is out of reach. They treat “it can’t be done” as a challenge. Why not? Says who? It’s a freeing belief and has allowed them to take on challenges that may scare many of us. They start small with that big end goal in mind.

To do this, failure has to be allowed. They don’t need a lot of meetings to talk about things; in fact, too many meetings bore them. They’d rather get out there and try it. In the end, it will be on time and it will be well done.

Second, millennials are not intimidated by who you are.

They’re not disrespectful, but they’re not immediately impressed by anyone’s title; respect is something that is earned.

I work with this group every day and we’re a team. I have deep respect for these students and they do for me, too. But they’ll challenge you, and make you think, and they should.

Third, it’s what you do that is impressive.

They’re not afraid to reach out to anyone, regardless of title. They want to work with those who can help make things happen — be that the most senior person in the organization or someone on the front line.

What’s important is finding the right people to build the right team that can help ensure that things get done.

Finally, for millennials, rewards matter.

They need meaningful work ̶ they want to see the big picture and how their work fits in. They’ll challenge you on the “why,” and it has to be more than a “because.” They want to know that they are making a difference, and that their work is having an impact.

For them, it’s about much more than high salaries and financial returns. It’s about doing good and feeling good about it.

Social impact = key reward

Being recognized for their contribution is important, too. They expect to be acknowledged. They want transparency and will ask for justification on decisions.

And they want all this for the people they work with, too. Social impact is a key reward and matters in a real way. They feel great reward when others do well as a result of their work.

pull-quote-op-ed-morrissey-2Just ask Taylor Young, president of Enactus Memorial. She says millennials are often happier working entirely on a volunteer basis if that work is important to them, providing social value and giving them the experience that they’re looking for.

“We’d rather take this kind of unpaid work than a high paying job where we are not attached to the work that we’re doing,” she said.

The students of Enactus Memorial are making a difference. They are passionate about helping to build sustainable communities.
We need to guide and support these future leaders to enable their success. That’s what we do at Enactus Memorial and I think we’ve shown that it works!

Lynn Morrissey