Perchance to Dream
Stability isn’t easy to come by, especially as economic pressures continue to rack our teams. It’s no secret that the bulk of our workforce, millennials and Generation Z, face particularly daunting challenges in the quest to achieve the seemingly elusive “American Dream.” As leaders, it’s up to us to respect these challenges and perhaps even help our teams navigate them. After all, a happy team is a productive team.
Summarized above by the Economist, notions of stability and homeownership were joined postwar with the proverbial “American Dream,” propagating a lasting sentiment of the interchangeability between these ideas. Further depicted in this 2022 HUD report, traditional homeownership has increasingly become a realm reserved for older demographics.
For generations, society has held to the idea of homeownership as a milestone of adulthood and the foundation of stability. Once an accessible steppingstone, homeownership has become an uncrossable chasm for our most productive workforce demographic. The barriers to economic stability afflicting millennial and Generation Z colleagues are elaborated upon in numerous reports, such as the video below by CNBC.
While certainly worrisome, eras of economic woe are often cyclical, as detailed below by investor Ray Dalio. Perhaps to best lead our teams through these hardships, we ought to encourage the abandonment of preconceived notions of adulthood and stability. Doing so could allow each of us to glimpse milestones pertinent to ourselves as individuals.
Through the foreseeable permanence of flexible offices, we can grant our teams previously unimagined freedoms between their professional and personal lives. We and our remote colleagues might even join the migration from cities to cheaper rural areas, like those listed on MakeMyMove, and enjoy financial incentives for relocating. Or perhaps we allow for the lifestyle of the globetrotting digital nomad, conveyed in this TED Talk and through services like RemoteYear.
The “American Dream” and the stability it once inspired means something vastly different now than it once did. We are in a unique position to think outside the box molded by the past. We can attain stability for ourselves and our teams not through adherence to the milestones of a bygone era, but by pursuing what’s important to each of us in our lives today.
“The American Dream is a phrase we’ll have to wrestle with all our lives. It means a lot of things to different people. I think we’re redefining it now.”
– Rita Dove
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