Millennials have lost faith!

In their leaders, in business, in religion, in capitalism, in politicians. They say.

If we took the word of the media as gospel, we’d be led to believe our Millennial generations are a wasteland, void of faith and hope. I even read one article that described Millennials as “The Distrustful Generation”––woh now, that’s a bit harsh.

Are our Millennials as faithless as they say?

Where arethey finding their sense of community, connection, spirituality, purpose & passion?  And where the heck are Millennials placing their faith––because it actually isn’t in their leaders at the moment, according to reports.

A recent study in the US by Pew research reported almost half of the American Millennials hold zero religious-faith. Generously opposing their elders who, according to the same report, draw a massive 83% crowd––of Americans over the age of 40 affiliate with a religion.An article in Fast Company concluded people under 40 are replacing religion with work to find a sense of community, purpose and identity.

Some other interesting figures in a similar US study the same Fast Companypiece referred to say Millennials choose to identify themselves by their work. The report revealed 42% of Millennials are defined by the work they do and 45% by the company they work for. With 65% of the Millennials surveyed said their work is “very important” to who they are as a person.

But that’s the US, where religion means something very different to  what it does in some other countries, particularly Australia. So, where do our Australian Millennials hold space for faith? If at all.

Not in business, apparently.

Deloitte’s Millennial report from 2018 showed a pretty decent drop in Millennials’ faith in business. Where 72% of Millennials had a strong belief in business back in 2017, the 2018 report showed figures drop to a rather empty 45%.

What about politics?

Uh-uh. According to a survey conducted by the ABC youth radio network, Triple J last month, the youth say nope to politicians. Facilitated by Triple J’s daily current affairs program, Hack, more than 10, 000 young Australians were surveyed in the, “What’s Up in Your World?”  survey. And, it seems our Millennials’ faith in politicians is a chasm of nothingness. With an insane 89% of Australian young people reporting they have zero faith in politicians. This number based on young people’s interest in the planet, climate change and the environment.

But what does it even matter if they have faith in their politicians? Is it going to help? 59% of young Australians, also according to Hack’s report, don’t even believe whomever gets elected will even see out their term.

Oh, ye of little faith.

But can we blame them, really? Do they know any different? Australia has been a revolving door for politicians in the past decade (or more). A lot of young adults can’t imagine a world where leaders deserved their faith.

An article in The Australianlast month by columnist Simon Kuestenmacher was boldly titled ‘Losing faith in religion leaves young trapped in painful search for ‘meaning’. Kuestenmacher criticises Millennial employees’ desire to find purpose in their work. Simon blames the diminishing presence of religion, kind of aggressively. Claiming that religion helped other generations “endure the most annoying jobs” because the promise of afterlife was enough to satiate our purpose here. Where these faithless Millennials are wanting to find their purpose in this life, maybe even in a job––which they will spend up to 60 hours a week for almost half their lives thinking about.

How very dare they?! Simon says,

“We have about 12 million jobs in Australia. We can’t create an economy where all jobs align perfectly with the personal passions and preferences of all workers.”

Look, I’m not arguing there are a certain number of Millennials chasing a career holy grailthat doesn’t exist, there are. But can we really blame them? And is taking them to mass every Sunday going to reshape their expectations? Highly doubtful.

The reality is, workis a sort of religion now. And when it comes to our Millennials, who are looking here for some fulfilment, we just have to hear them and respond. From what I know from my research, Millennials aren’t looking for miracles and oracles in their workplaces. They’re not wanting a paradigm shift every day, or a godly hand on the shoulder guiding them through their reports and data entry. They simply want a bit more meaning, purpose, depth.

Purpose and depth can come in all manner of ways for Millennials in the workplace––feedback, acknowledgement, values they align with, healthy workplace culture, good leaders. All of this we can manage.

My survey, Australian Millennials in The Workplace revealed one of the most important relationships in a Millennials career is with their leader. 3 out of 5 of the 1000 Australian Millennials I surveyed stated their strained relationship with their manager and/or culture as their primary reason for leaving a job.

They are crying out for good leaders, for mentors and motivators that align with their beliefs. And they will respond to it.

Psychologist & Analyst Nick Tucker at AON Hewitt, told ABC in an article titled, “It’s Not Just About the Money, They Say,” it’s timefor employers to understand employees’ values. Tucker concluded,

“The idea is then to go above and beyond. One of the common ways you can achieve that is by connecting that employee to the greater purpose.”

Amen.