By Debra Lam, Society Staples

First published on Society Staples website on 08 June 2017


According to Channel NewsAsia, millennials are now the largest generation in the labour workforce in Singapore today. They are often cast in a similar light by employers – innovative yet arrogant, passionate yet disloyal, smart yet lazy…

While there are many bad things being said about millennials, among which include their impatience, job-hopping tendencies and lack of control, these characteristics might not immediately spell bad news. Here are some reasons why characteristics of millennials are not necessarily bad, and why they can actually be an ideal fit for social enterprises.

1. Keen sense of purpose with a heart for good

One of the main reasons why millennials job-hop every 2-3 years is because they feel no sense of purpose in the work they do. Especially in a large organization, one employee is just a cog in the wheel, and millennials feel that their work is insignificant or serves no higher purpose. Millennials are not simply looking for a respected title in an organization, but also how the company and oneself can contribute in a bigger way to society.

Companies are often told to ‘innovate or die’ – in the case of the millennial worker, if mainstream companies do not tailor to their needs of their career development, even the best workers (millennial or not), will be hard pressed to find a reason to stay.

As social enterprises, a solid social mission with a substantial business objective is what makes or breaks the organization. Millennials are the best candidates for seeing that goal to fruition – the desire to create a purposeful product or service marries perfectly with millennials’ need to find meaning in all that they do.

2. Equipped with the hard skills along with the soft skills

Millennials are not all talk and no action. As the most educated generation in the workforce, many possess highly relevant certifications and qualifications that can serve businesses well. On top of that, many of them come armed with internships in which they have gained real work experience.

Apart from hard skills, millennials have strong networking skills and interpersonal skills harnessed from school and internships that will come in handy when liaising with potential partners or convincing investors to invest in their start-ups.

3.  Situational Awareness

Millennials nowadays have no qualms about standing up for what they think is right but not necessarily popular, and this quality can be very rare in the work environment, especially when people are afraid of not belonging to the majority.

This quality resonates well with the workings of social enterprises. To be a social entrepreneur, not only are you rejecting the norm by not working in a large corporation, you are challenging and reshaping societal notions. This requires deep situational analysis, of which is often neglected as we are often used to things being status quo.

4. Rejecting Status Quo

Speaking of status quo, as a millennial myself, along with my millennial comrades, we push ourselves harder every day to become better. We are never comfortable settling with what we have, instead we constantly question ourselves on what can be improved.

This is highly relevant to the start-up environment that social enterprises are often faced with. Every day is a battle, and the only way is up. Situations change quickly and as millennials, we know that better than anyone else in this volatile job market.

Before anyone casually dismisses millennials as the ‘strawberry generation’ again, take a closer look at us – you might be pleasantly surprised.


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