If You Give a Millennial a Cookie…
Snacks, beer kegs and fountain orange soda.
These are the benefits of a new job position as relayed to me by a colleague’s 22-year-old son. “They have an awesome snack cupboard, beer kegs in the office and orange soda on fountain…”
I pressed further, inquiring about the benefits package he will receive at his chosen company. “Hello?! Beer in the office…” Like, duh. And the company’s mission? A nonchalant, “I dunno.” Oh, cool.
What employees desire from their company, and what’s considered to be an office perk, has become central to the instant gratification and entertainment of the individual. Millennial employees have been stereotyped as narcissistic, lazy and entitled. But are companies that provide unlimited orange soda and refrigerators full of beer perpetuating a self-fulfilling prophecy under the guise of establishing a culture of “cool”?
As easy as it may be to assume that traditional job benefits like quality health insurance, a solid 401(k) plan and a few extra days of paid vacation are being cast to the wayside by trendy beverages and office game rooms, it is important to consider that not all millennials are so easily, or solely, captivated by cheap perks like never-ending streams of soda and beer.
A neglected consideration in some business literature is that millennials strongly value career purpose and expression of individuality. These values often point them in the direction of companies that strive to serve a purpose greater than just an awesome ROI, and into positions that nurture individual talents, desires and strengths.
Let’s face it — fully stocked kitchens and game lounges are cool perks for any office and provide a welcome opportunity for employees to escape and recharge throughout the day. However, these perks will remain perks so long as the work done between pizza breaks and foosball tournaments is executed for a greater purpose.
Is it possible that instantly gratifying “benefits” used to charm young employees into accepting and keeping jobs are simply clever props used to distract from a very real lack of corporate authenticity and vision, or, perhaps worse, a neglect of the individual’s real desires?
Promoting a unified company vision and recognizing the inherent value of each employee will naturally create a strong culture and office camaraderie. Kristen Laird, our Associate Account Manager, says her favorite perk of working at Ethology is a positive work-life balance: “There is flexibility to work from home if needed, and employees receive a bonus for taking three days off and being completely unplugged.”
Instantly gratifying perks like game tables and soda machines might be successful in attracting potential hires to a company, but the benefits that perpetuate a strong workplace culture and undeniable corporate vision are far more deliberate and deep-rooted than soda fountains and kegs.
Although the process of creating space and time to nurture young employees’ skills and career interests might lead to initial growing pains, the end result will be a workforce of highly passionate, dedicated and competent staff. Fostering career passions and recognizing personal values early on will yield higher productivity and better quality of work for a longer period of time.