A lot of negative things have been said about millennials. They're lazy, they're entitled, and they made Kim Kardashian famous. While that might be enough to damn an entire generation to mockery for the rest of their days, it is a well-known fact that every generation rags on the generation that preceded it. Unfortunately, millennials are boasting another characteristic that is damning them in the professional world: risk-aversion.
While playing your hand close to your chest has a number of benefits, not taking risks is the best way to embrace mediocrity. You rarely help stimulate the economy, you don't innovate new tech and you definitely aren't making the world a more interesting place. Instead, millennials are characterized as money-savers who refuse to try out the stock market and have most of their finances in cash.
But honestly, who can blame them? Millennials have grown up in a society rife with economic turbulence, corporation corruption, and more student debt than the cost of a 2-minute Super Bowl commercial. They are inundated with more options than they can conceive, leading to an entire generation of employees spending their days wondering “what if?”
So, how does this affect their professional behavior? It's a bit of a mixed bag. While their need to keep risk to a minimum can be viewed as a bit overly sensitive, stability goes a long way in developing a startup. Millennials are going to make sure that a company is secure and safe from anything that might take it down. And with a failure rate that still shocks some founders, risk-aversion could be a good thing.
“They will be the most high maintenance workforce in the history of the world, but they may also be the most high performing,” says Bruce Tulgan, consultant and author of It’s Okay to Manage Your Boss.
The main take away from the millennial risk-aversion issue is that it sacrifices safety for greatness. Taking risks is the best way to find out what doesn't work, leading the way for what does. Unfortunately, millennials have heard more horror stories about failure than any other generation before it. There's even a #fail dedicated to showing the youths of today how bad things can go when you don't plan ahead. They're not going to take risks for fear of this type of epic collapse. And while that might slow down innovation, it might provide society with the stability it so rightly needs.
Photo: Flickr / ITU Pictures