A MILLENNIAL WORKPLACE MANIFESTO
9 min read
Hey (Boomer/Gen X) Future Boss,
I’m that annoying, selfish, selfie-taking and entitled future employee you love to hate – The True Millennial. Nowhere to run, you’ll have to hire me – or someone like me – very soon. We’re taking over, bro.
The trouble is, you’ve got me wrong. I’m not your enemy and not a parasite distraction – I’m your biggest asset.
Why’s that, you ask? I’m pretty good at what I do. That and I know what others like me want to buy, consume, believe and then invest in, talk about and value in their lives.
Who am I, really, Boss? I’m just a dude with a portfolio career who wants to make a difference in the world, do well, make a good name for you and for myself, get paid, get more responsibility, accomplish something, then get out. I’ve got big plans, you see. That doesn’t make me selfish – just pragmatic.
What do I want from you and from your company? I’ll tell you very frankly:
1) Radical Transparency.
Next time there is an All-Hands meeting, tell me what the different teams are doing. Why are they doing it, with what success or failure? Tell me the company financials, product details and the strategy. I’ll handle it just fine – big boy.
I want to hear about our marketing, our hiring and how the market looks. I want to know ahead of time what bonuses will look like and what I need to do to get a raise, a better title, people I will manage, and so on.
When you show me (not just tell me) we’re in glass house, I’ll think twice before throwing a stone.
2) Purpose and Mission.
Why are we here? Why are we doing what we’re doing, in the way we are? What are we working for all day and night? Why does my role here matter? What is the bigger purpose here? Tell me how we are saving lives or people’s time or money – better if all three.
This makes me feel like I’m doing something meaningful with positive impact on people’s lives.
3) Quick, pointed feedback on performance – both the bad and good.
If something’s off, I want to know ASAP to course-correct. Less formal and more regular is better.
There is nothing more that I appreciate than when you take your time (even a couple minutes twice a week) to motivate me and help me improve.
4) Drop the micro-managing.
Treat me like the capable professional you hired and just let me do my job.
5) Be flexible with using more of my skills.
I’m not just a one-hit Excel wonder or copywriting robot. Use me or lose me.
Toss me a bone – let me work on a side project with another team or another project where I know I can be instantly helpful.
It helps keep me motivated and feeling useful to the company – and will reliably improve your bottom line and make it more likely I’ll stick around a while.
6) Step up to the plate as a mentor or find me someone here who can help guide me in my career path.
This means meaningful one-one-one time outside of work – not just passing words exchanged at a team-building exercise or group lunch.
7) Drop the unlimited vacation policy.
In practice, this just means nobody ever takes off. Set an example by actually taking off time and encouraging us to do the same. It makes burnout less likely and helps us refocus, refresh and come back ready to take on new challenges.
8) Flat hierarchy or not, drop the corporate politics and two-faced appeals to culture and values.
Lead by example with radical transparency (#1) and by treating people like adults (#22) and with consistent decency (#23).
9) Make decisions quicklyand transparently.
Make everyone aware of how (and why) we’re moving forward. That’s how you get my buy-in, no matter if we agree.
10) Mix up the demographics.
We need the gray hair and the tattoos, young grads and old fogies (seen The Intern?), women and men, people from different walks of life and backgrounds and industries, and everyone in between.
Don’t let it get stale and boring with everyone looking and sounding the same. Everyone (the company first) benefits from shared perspective and wisdom from all kinds of different people in the same space, working on the same problems.
11) Give me time and resources for meaningful professional development.
Sponsor me for a General Assembly course, online course or industry conference. I will forever be grateful for the exposure and experience. This is a big one.
12) Give me 10-20% of my work time for side projects.
Don’t just pay lip service to what Google does (or used to do well). Use this as a way to tap my creativity and I’ll find you new revenue streams, better, cheaper, faster ways to do things, build new products, etc.
Create an internal forum to gather and generate useful ideas from employees to help the company.
Let me pitch you or whomever in management on my ideas and how I’d implement them. If you approve, let me run with them in balance with my existing tasks.
13) Let me move around internally and outside of the company.
If I like what I learned from you, I’ll work with you again in the future on the same or a new venture.
Always be helpful to me in my career whether here or elsewhere and I’ll always return the favor. No need to burn bridges just because I feel I should move on when I decide to.
14) Drop the buzzwords and speak straightto me.
No more rocket ships, growth hacking, unicorns, Uber for whatever. No more synergies, efficiency, productivity, cost savings.
I get that you drank the Kool-Aid, but don’t make me drink it too. Speak plainly to me – or I’ll think you’re just another corporate tool or startup douche.
Oh, and drop that crappy NDA. It’s quite useless (unenforceable) and only breeds ill will.
15) Give me benefits I’ll actually… benefit from.
Let me choose them myself, first of all. Offer benefits that fit my lifestyle and family situation. Show me that the company actually cares about my health and wellbeing, not just my productivity and its own bottom line.
For example, help me pay off my student loans, offer a 401(k) and/or Roth IRA match. Help me manage my finances by offering credit monitoring, identity theft protection, HSA/FSA, other pre-tax investment opportunities.
Help me stay healthy by incentivizing earnings through walking 10,000 steps a day, not just with a cheaper gym membership. Start a pedometer competition with real rewards. Give me cash or good gift cards as inducement (Amazon, iTunes, etc.). The impact will be tremendous and long-lasting – both for me and you.
16) Don’t nickel-and-dime me on professional development, travel and other things important for my job and overall performance.
17) Stop offering gimmicks (foosball table and endless snacks).
We never have time to play foosball and just get fat from eating all day.
18) Judge me on performance, not the hours I’m physically present in the office.
A week-long, 8-hour-a-day+ face time requirement in the office breeds hypocrisy and contempt, not to mention poor quality of work, absenteeism and other evils. As long as I get the work done at a high level and remain motivated, much of the work I do can be done from almost anywhere.
19) Be flexible with letting me work remotely.
I often do my best work at odd times. I likely a have a kid, a wife, side projects, passions, volunteer activities. Sometimes it’s best if I don’t waste the time commuting in.
20) Be consistently the same inside and out.
Don’t be two-faced to me. I’ll see right through it.
Don’t hire two-faced people who’ll ruin your culture and drive the good people away. That’s the number one ingredient that makes or breaks a company’s success.
21) Include me and other team members in candidate interviews.
This ensures that the whole group buys in before you hire someone that doesn’t fit.
If I’m on the team, my opinion matters, so give me a voice on big decisions and hear me out. Don’t just inform me of new team members the day they start or big changes after the fact. This is a BIG red flag.
22) Treat me like an adult – with dignity, respect and by giving me real responsibility and runway to accomplish my goals.
Also, please respect my need for a life outside of work. Heard of “diminishing returns”? That is what happens when people work too many hours and start burning out.
Give me an opportunity to do my best work with other smart and highly motivated folks on an important problem here that has a real and positive impact on many people.
23) No need to be my best friend, but be consistently decent to me and everyone else around.
Start a virtuous cycle of decency and you’ll reap the benefits many times over.
24) Encourage everyone to recognize each other for a job well done.
Make them write it down for review time and factor it into compensation and bonuses. Motivation will go through the roof.
25) Take hiring and HR very seriously.
Hire HR (and all other) people only when they “get it” and buy completely into the company’s mission, purpose and product.
HR should be crystal clear about what motivates me and other employees, what each of us wants out of working here and how to deliver it in return for my time, motivation and best work. None of us should be treated like a commodity if you want us to stick around.
26) Mix up the floor plan.
Don’t force everyone to work out on the open floor all day with no room to breathe or hear our own thoughts. Leave room for people to work solo, so they can focus better.