The Why

Millennials define their values and let them drive their work. Can we learn something from them?

On 20th June 2019 I was lucky enough to attend RRD’s Workplace of the Future Forum and I want to thank one of the brilliant keynote speakers (Dr Eliza Filby) who re-ignited my intrigue to the importance of values-driven working, specifically within the often-criticised millennial generation (largely understood as those born between 1980-1996).

Values-driven working is the notion that our authentic, individual sense of purpose aligns with (and fuels) the reasons behind WHY we work. Dr. Filby (2019) highlighted that the millennial generation are brilliant at knowing their own core identities: using this purpose to inspire both their working and leisure time. Dr. Filby (2019) also observed that millennials have a certain affiliation for a trip to the pub after work has finished – something I whole-heartedly support(!) – and that, if you listen closely, the WHY in their lives is often discussed proudly there:

“Millennials want to be able to have good pub-chat, they want to be able to say I work for ____ and that means I do ____”.

A fantastic example of this might be: “I’m a firefighter and that means I save people” or “I’m a teacher and that means I educate the future generations”.

Having pride in what we do should be universal, but the above highlights that within a typically social setting, the values driving careers – particularly within the millennial generation – are being made clear… but how?

The Why in your life… and Why it matters

Simply, millennials don’t view professional values as separate to personal values: they are aligned, co-supportive and merged. Pubs exemplify this because they are breeding ground for organic discussions. As such, they are a significant location where the alignment of values between our personal and professional lives blur. Indeed, something we choose to do in our leisure time (join our friends down the pub), shifts to becoming an arena where we can showcase WHY we embark down our chosen career path. In this instance, broadcasting the WHY, affirms our sense of identity and belonging through casual conversation and the support of friends.

At Veldhoen + Company we call the WHY, our Guiding Principles, and they remain at the core of every decision we make with our clients, along their journey to achieving their new way of working. While it may be the case that this trend of thinking has been awoken in millennials, the same should be true for all workers – regardless of their generation – as ultimately, we should all be proud of WHY we do what we do.

Organisations can support this by truly living their own corporate values, promoting a robust cultural fit for all people who share them. This then evolves into a joint commitment between the individual and organisation to maintain these values as intrinsic to achieving shared corporate purpose. Indeed, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

I, for one, fully embrace that we are now in the position where humans should expect organisations to help them to proudly fuel their pub-chat.

It means that our values are beginning to be afforded the critical status they deserve – long may it continue in organisations (and pubs) everywhere!



Dr Eliza Filby (2019) Five different generations in the workplace. How to attract and retain the best talent among them? RRD Workplace of the Future Forum, 20th June 2019.

Photo: thanks to Antenna on Unsplash

For more about this project please contact Jon Gausden

Jon Gausden


Want to know more?Jon Gausden

[email protected]

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