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How to instill work ethic into millennials

Work ethic is part of an individual's personal values and much like a company's corporate values, they must be taught and modeled daily.

Ryan Jenkins
11/10/2017

Employers pursue it, leaders exude it, fulfillment is derived from it, customers expect it, success depends on it, and career progression is the result of it...what is it?

A strong work ethic.

Workers who view the work they do--fun or not fun, menial or noble--as a critical part of the bigger picture and execute the work with excellence, derive higher levels of satisfaction from their work, unlock more opportunities, and become more promote-able than those content with the minimum effort required.

With those type of benefits, why wouldn't someone want to cultivate a strong work ethic?

Work ethic is a value based on hard work and diligence. It's the principle that hard work is intrinsically virtuous or worthy of reward. In other words, work ethic is not something we are born with, it's a learned behavior.

Work ethic is part of an individual's personal values and much like a company's corporate values, they must be taught and modeled daily.

Previous generations have defined success at work by time and tenure, but Millennials measure it by impact.

Millennials ask themselves, "What's the biggest impact I can make with the limited time that I have?" This mindset is often interpreted by managers as "lazy" because it clashes with previous generations view of what hard work is and should be.

We must be careful when comparing a new generation of workers with previous generations when the way in which we work has changed so significantly over the generations.

Here are a few actions that can help instill a strong work ethic into Millennials...

Because of the shifting landscape of work and Millennials' varied approach to work, one of the greatest challenges when instilling work ethic into Millennials is defining a baseline for strong work ethic. The best way to overcome this is...

Let the customer define the work ethic.

The behaviors that Millennial employees need to demonstrate should be defined by the needs of the customers or clients.

If customers need...

Ryan Jenkins is a Millennial and Generation Z speaker who helps organizations better lead, engage, and sell to the emerging generations.

It's the responsibility of the leader to understand what the customer or client needs and to clearly and consistently communicate the work ethic needed to satisfy those needs to their Millennial employees.

Once the customer-defined work ethic has been established, give space to Millennial employees to see how they take ownership and execute the newly formed values.

As your customers evolve, so will the work ethic needed to create the best results for customers.


Ryan Jenkins is a Millennial and Generation Z speaker who helps organizations better lead, engage, and sell to the emerging generations; and he is also the author of The Millennial Manual: The Complete How-To Guide to Manage, Develop, and Engage Millennials at Work

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