Welcome to the fourth episode of the Eva Women Podcast!
This week our guest was Jasper Scholten, author of ‘Het Millennial Mysterie’ (‘The Millennial Mystery’). We loved every moment of this interview, and we both learned a thing or two about millennials in the workplace. He talked about their high levels of stress and how older managers often deal with them using outdated values that don’t apply to today’s businesses – something that is one of the many frustrations millennials face. As a millennial himself, Jasper provides insights on how to deal with the demographic, what motivates them and how to retain them even at a time where people don’t stay in jobs for more than a year or two.
Finding his generational place in the world
As a millennial himself, it was somewhat of a natural fit for Jasper to become an expert on the demographic. Born in 1986, he refers to himself as a vintage millennial and studied business, did a masters in London and started his career in human resources. Yet after working for big corporate companies for three years, he decided it wasn’t the career path he desired.
After reflecting on his own thoughts about working in the corporate world — and also noticing friends in similar environments who didn’t feel particularly inspired by their work — Jasper quit his role in HR. What came next was his first experience of generational conflict.
His parents (Generation X) were concerned by his decision to quit his job — especially as Jasper had recently bought a house. But he knew that a different path was needed, one that lay away from the world of human resources.
Thinking about the alternatives
One of the first hurdles Jasper needed to clear involved understanding why he didn’t feel job satisfaction and what alternatives were available to him. Whether you’re a millennial or not, Jasper notes that people in unsatisfactory situations need to look at the alternatives and have the courage to make the change — which he acknowledges is easier said than done.
After quitting his job at the end of 2015, he made a quintessential millennial move: he went travelling. However, after a couple of months, he didn’t get the travel bug. So instead, he looked at what was next on the horizon professionally.
Understanding the millennial mindset
At the start of 2016, Jasper decided to visit a mentor in another city. Then, during the train journey to the city, something happened that changed his entire mindset. The train hit a passenger, and a comment from another passenger caught him off guard. Instead of feeling empathy, the passenger noted that the number of people who jump in front of trains increases at the beginning of each year.
This information gave Jasper plenty of food for thought, and he researched some facts around Dutch labour organisations. Jasper found that 100,000 of the 3.1 millennials in the Netherlands were staying at home because of stress and that suicide was the number one cause of death for people aged between 20 and 30 years old.
“We have never lived in such a prosperous way before. How can this be that my generation isn’t happy – and that they’re suffering?”
He started thinking about the solutions, and how he could help change the mindset of millennials that weren’t satisfied with how their life was turning out.
Journey to becoming an author
The result of Jasper’s desire to understand why millennials weren’t happy came in the form of a book, which took him a year-and-a-half to write. Entitled The Millennial Mystery, the book focused on the psychological, sociological and neurological factors behind the way millennials think and act.
“Millennials were being told do what makes you happy, you’re unique, and you have a unique set of skills, talents.”
He found that expectations of millennials were already set to a high standard, whether it was parents or teachers telling them that the sky was the limit. There was also a culture of super competitiveness, and they’d witnessed companies like Google and Facebook going from million to billion-dollar organisations in just a couple of years.
The book essentially helps break down the stereotypical barriers that suggest millennials are spoilt and lazy and examines the myths to find the real reasons why some are struggling in a culture that is growing more demanding by the day.
Engaging with modern-day workforces
An increasing number of workforces ask themselves how they can keep millennials happy in a professional environment. Jasper believes there are many aspects involved in achieving such a goal, including how to teach millennials to cope with their high expectations.
“One of the things you can do as an organisation spend more time focusing on personal development.
From an organisational perspective, it’s important to look at how to bridge the generational gap — especially as many workforces are aging. This can be done by looking at what a “work role” looks like to each generation, and how the social system of an organisation can be updated and modernised.
Personal development for millennials
After asking 300 millennials, 66% of them said they wanted to focus on personal development. Which was to how to identify talents and how to cope with stress. These are the two primary needs of millenials, yet few resources in companies focus on them – instead, they gear towards the professional elements.
Millennials also care about professional growth. Aspects like work atmosphere, such as collaboration and relationships, are important parts of their development. So is creating meaningful work. The key driver is for people to feel a sense of purpose, and organisations need to make more effort to show how their employees are positively impacting the workspace.
Self-care is a really important component to a healthy mindset and something that Jasper recognises. He meditates for at least 20 minutes after showering and in-between breakfasts. He shows gratitude by saying all the things he’s thankful for out loud. And also walks around outside after dinner, even when it’s raining!
Thank you Jasper for joining us. We had a great time learning more about you, your business and the awesome work you are doing with Millennials.
Learn More about Jasper
My name is Jasper (33) and I live in Amsterdam. I speak and write a lot about millennials and personal development. Before I started doing this, I worked in international business for a number of years. I found out that the social success picture of a good job, owning a home and (financial) freedom was not entirely my picture. Because of a slight ‘quarterlife crisis’ I decided on my job and to discover what suits me better.
During this voyage of discovery I not only found out that I was not the only millennial with doubts and questions of meaning, I also discovered the bizarre stress figures of my generation. For example, ArboNed (2017) concluded that there are an estimated 100,000 millennials (1985 – 2000) at home due to too much stress. A survey by Monsterboard (2017) shows that 85% of the millennials actively doubt their work and private life. I wanted to understand how that is possible in a country where we are doing so well in so many areas. Due to a lack of good answers and insights, I decided to go after it myself and write a book “The Millennial Mystery” .
Since that time I am determined to do something preventive and curative about this millennial situation. Through lectures, day presidencies, podcasts and my book, I want to create more awareness about this theme and ensure that sustainable solutions come.