Whether you're a manag-er or a manag-ed, the way we work needs a reboot. We need a work 2.0 for the internet 2.0 setting. You know what grinds my gears? The term millennials and all the management talk surrounding 'how to manage millennials' and how to 'recruit millennials' etc. It's as if technology has only changed the lives of people who were born in the 80s and later. When in fact, the lowest common denominator of everyone's everyday lives is changed, not just people between the ages of 18-32. I will take it as an unintentional compliment - everyone has opposable thumbs but millennials are the only ones using theirs.
What hasn't changed is how you and I work. Before I was a manager, I was the prototypical front line employee, a citizen of the Managedville, if you will. During both stages of my career I've learned some lessons I'd like to share. Lessons which can be summed up by a simple question - What else?
As a manag-er
You have external value props, but what else? What are your internal value props? Forget 'why should you buy from us over competitor X?' How about 'why should you work for us over competitor X? Easiest answer, specially if you want young, bright, cheap and eager employees, is we have 3 weeks of vacation. 50% more than competitor X. Take it a step further and say you only hire people who value personal growth. You want employees who travel, spend time with family, explore, etc. You want fresh, independent, happy people in your company.
What else? You are a Samaritan. There is no deeper way to impact individuals than by being a manager who takes their growth seriously. DO THIS and give yourself some Samaritan points in the process. If impacting the lives of individuals you manage makes you feel icky, turn in your opposable thumbs because you're refusing to evolve.. If you do agree with the idea of the Samaritan manager, announce it to the potential employee. Show them the value you provide outside of the $35k offer. If they don't' value it, next.
What else? Have a purpose. A little company named Google wanted to make everything searchable. Simple enough purpose and (evil or not) they have pursued it handsomely. Amazon wants to sell everything, online (TMI Confession: I recently bought TP and soap from Amazon). Evernote wants to be your second brain. One week old start up named Oyster is declaring 'The world is yours for the reading.' by providing all-you-can read ebooks for $9.95. You want a purpose. You want everyone to line up behind it. The purpose will help your employees' morale when staring at 100k lines of excel spreadshit for hours on end.
What else? Health. Not health insurance which is important but a ubiquitous relic like the 401k. Is there a gym? How about a gym membership? How about showers on site and the freedom to run at lunch? Yoga class? Jazzerise? Piloxing? Anything? PEOPLE SPEND MORE TIME IN THE CHAIR THAN IN THEIR BED. People sit on their derriere for 8 hours a day and health suffers. Cancer, heart disease, depression, shitty immune system and worst of all, kankles are caused by sitting-on-your-ass syndrome (title pending). People are 50% more likely to die when sitting all day! So, what is your company doing about it?
As the manag-ed
You don't think 'what else' as much as you should. Let's say you have have a few job offers around the same amount, give or take $35k. Most take the higher paying job even if it's only by a grand or so. That's where you need to ask the question - what else? Besides the pay, what else comes with the job?
If the employer replies with 401K, that's cute. What else? It's 2013. 401k is important but it's a relic. So ask, what else? Like how many vacation days? US is notoriously last in granting free time among all western nations. Aussies get 20 paid days off, REQUIRED BY THE GOVERNMENT. Meaning, if you're an Aussie (we all wanna be, admit it) and the company you work for allows zero vacation days, you still get 2x the vacation days an American would.
Even worse is the next symptom of what's wrong with our working culture. I BET you will answer yes to the next question. Ever feel a little guilty asking for a couple weeks off? It might've been a tiny bit of guilt but the feeling of guilt creeps up nonetheless. Hopefully you caught it, told yourself I shouldn't feel guilty and enjoy the time off. Great! But the fact that we feel guilt for not working is ridiculous. It's an American thing. Make like an umbilical cord and cut it out!
Don't let them guilt trip you. You're not lazy. Tell them you value self development and disconnecting from everyday life helps you grow. You return fresh, amped, and ready to work.
Manag-ers and Manag-eds
Fastest way to get an organization to change their ways? Tell them a competitor is doing it. If you're a talented computer programmer in the bay area, you know how it works. You can code for Apple, Facebook, Google, Adobe or insert name here. No wonder why Google has free lunches. They are putting a pool and a track in their future UK office. Adobe gives you massages and matches your non-profit contributions. Start thinking like a chooser.
Facebook has won Forbe's best places to work award the past two years. Why? Take a tour of FB offices and you'll see the candy shop, the bank, the dentist’s office, the doctor’s office, the gym, the bike repair shop, the barbershop, the dry cleaners, a coffee shop, sushi restaurant, video arcade, barbecue shack, Mexican restaurant, pizzeria and burger place. Shiny communal bicycles are parked under every tree. And they have a purpose - Connect everyone. And the employees have responded. They comment favorably about the opportunity to impact a billion people all the time.. Purpose, health, transparency, growth, it's all there.
What manag-ers and manage-eds need to realize is it shouldn't be limited to the progressive bay area companies and computer programmers. The above strategy should be in the DNA of every company and every employee. Manag-eds - you must ask for demand it. Manag-ers - step it up. Plain and simple. Don't wait for current and future manag-eds to ask for it, be the leader and make moves! Plan a 'culture' budget similar to your marketing budget. Write down a purpose and get everyone to stand behind it or else. Oh and start following Brian Halligan on twitter, you might learn a thing or two or three about happy millennials workers in the internet 2.0 era.
It's 2013 and all of the above info is online. Millennials checked ratemyprofessors.com before picking a class. They check Yelp! for restaurant reviews before dining. They will check glassdoor.com before accepting a job. Everyone should be a millennial (employer or employee, young or old, manag-er or manag-ed) and adopt this behavior. Everyone's work life will improve because of it. If the above seems like too much work, you're screwed. Really, get it together or face business Darwinism (And I WILL come after both of your opposable thumbs!).
Image by Lindsey Plocek