The Millennial Search for Self-Actualization

In the past months I have been interviewing Millennial’s in different industries and different occupations to find out what motivates and engages them. After interviewing a cop, a firefighter, and a military personnel; after interviewing someone in higher education, the food service industry, and a Baby Boomer working with a Millennial, I have learned an important lesson about how to engage & retain the millennial generation. It doesn’t matter what the size of the organization, Global, National, Local, or Non-Profit, it only matters that you provide a purpose- a vision that the employee can feel inspired by.

A sense of purpose provided by the job is what motivated each individual I spoke with. To know that the work they are doing is helping or affecting others is what this generation is looking for. The Millennial generation has been studied and examined closely because of the projected impact they will have on the work place. At a Northern Nevada Human Resources Association Diversity Seminar, some findings were presented in a very relatable way regarding generational needs. The speaker used Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs to discuss the different needs of each generation that currently makes up our work force today.

It starts with the Traditionalist Generation and how their needs related to the Safety & Security Needs on Maslow’s Pyramid. This generation, after surviving one of the worst depressions in history, wanted a stable job and stable income. Next we have the Baby Boom Generation, their needs are based on Love & Belonging in the work place. The Baby Boomers longed for an identity and usually got their identity from their workplace. They were a generation all about work. Moving on, we have Generation X, or also known as the latchkey kids. This generation was the early offspring of the Baby Boomer Generation. Because their parents were so busy working they were often left alone which created a very independent & DIY generation. That is why this generations needs aligns with Maslow’s Esteem Needs. They are a generations of Entrepreneurs that crave recognitions for their accomplishments. Lastly, we have the Millennial Generation, and as I said before this is a generation searching for Self-Actualization. We are a generation that wants to be happy, and that wants to give back.


Once a leader, or a company understands the needs and wants of each generation, then they have the opportunity to build a strategy, (a strong mission, vision, value system), that can help create a better chance to recruit, engage, and retain their talented workforce. We all know that a company’s human capital (employees) is its most valuable asset, so the concept of putting employees first shouldn’t be a farfetched idea. Those companies that take the time to understand their employee’s wants and needs & then create a company culture to help fulfill those wants and needs are ones that are going to be around for many years to come. Can you relate to this generational pyramid of needs? What do you think?

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4 thoughts on “The Millennial Search for Self-Actualization

  1. Pingback: Registered Nurse Millennial Spotlight- Jessica Hansen | Recruit, Engage, & Retain

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  4. Pingback: 5 Tips to Recruit, Engage, and Retain the Millennial Generation | Recruit, Engage, & Retain

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