Teamwork is something Millennials actually enjoy. Having grown up in an environment that fosters teamwork, most Millennials like working in groups and we highly prefer a sense of unity and collaboration over division and competition. We look for support and reassurance among our peers, and we are a highly social generation.
All this emphasis on teamwork has instilled a belief in Millennials that working together is far more effective than going it alone. According to a 2007 CIRCLE survey, when Millennial participants were asked “How much difference do you believe people working together as group can make in solving problems,” 92 percent agreed that this will make at least some difference, with 62 percent saying it would make a great deal of difference and only 1 percent saying it would make no difference at all. When asked, “How much difference do you believe you can personally make in solving problems,” 63 percent believed they personally could make at least some difference, but only 18 percent believed that they could make a great deal of difference. Also, the 2007 Greenberg Millennials Study found that when respondents were asked about the best way to address the challenges facing the country, the leading choice by far was “through a collective social movement.” Sixty percent made this their first or second choice.
The Millennial Generation’s attraction to teamwork could be, and arguably already is, a big factor in strengthening our civil and political engagement. One good example is the 2008 election when young people organized across the country for Barack Obama and our efforts helped put him in office. In the years to come, this penchant for organizing will be a crucial factor in our influence on not just politics but social, economic and environmental issues as well. The 2007 CIRCLE survey found that overall Millennials feel that organizing people is the best first-step to social change, beating out volunteering, voting, advocating for policy change and giving money. One UMASS student said, “The more people you get, the more awareness you raise, and then comes the money, and then comes the policy changes, so organizing the people is the most important one, hands down.”
Millennials are also volunteering in higher numbers. This isn’t surprising since community service has become a requirement for high school students over the last two decades (it is estimated that 80 percent of high school students do participate in community service). In fact, the Corporation for National and Community Service reported that approximately 1.3 million more Millennials offered their time without compensation to non-profit organizations in 2008 as compared to 2007, providing over a billion hours of volunteer service to our nation’s communities. This increase among Millennials represented all of the gain in volunteerism in 2008; other generations combined showed no increase in participation levels.
Millennials believe that volunteering in the community is highly important and a great way to effect change not just on the local level, but on the global level as well. We prefer a grassroots, bottom-up type of engagement over the top-down style represented in government. Our penchant for teamwork will be invaluable to us as we confront the Crisis our country is in. As other past Civic generations have done, Millennials will work together to tackle the tough problems standing in our way to a better future.