Millennials are currently the largest working generation, representing over a third of the U.S. labor force. The eldest of us are turning 40 this year. Many have kids and a mortgage, and quite a few have risen to the top of their field. You’d think, at this point, that employers wouldn’t treat the generation like a bunch of fickle, entitled, inexperienced and unrealistic youths fresh out of liberal arts college. We’re adults with the careers, problems and expectations that befit our age.
So why is it, now that employers have a record 10.9 million jobs open and are reportedly desperate to hire staff — some after they laid off workers early in the pandemic — we’re hearing about the “perks” companies are trying to use to attract millennials to a company? It seems the classic promises of improved pay, robust health care, livable hours and opportunity to advance just aren’t innovative enough. The thirtysomethings, we’re told, need more unusual incentives. You know, fun stuff!
I’m here to tell you this is bullshit. We don’t want pool tables or espresso machines; we want money. We’re grumpy from a bad night’s sleep, the coffee doesn’t work anymore and the credit cards are all maxed out. So before you plug these fanciful “millennial” extras on your application portal, take a reality check and give everyone a raise instead.
Yoga and Meditation
Yoga and meditation are certainly proven to benefit your health, but I’m at a job to do that job, not to spend an hour on an exercise mat surrounded by Lululemon-clad coworkers all trying to mentally remove themselves from the office we’re stuck in. Besides, these practices aren’t for everyone, and while they may not be a requirement, they can create uncomfortable divisions between those who participate and those who can’t or won’t — particularly if management is too hyped on the new-age approach. Your team can collaborate without meeting on a spiritual plane. Now, if you want to subsidize the yoga or meditation sessions that employees attend outside the workplace, at their own convenience, that would be fine. Or pay more. Both are good!
Let the record show that I adore dogs. I wish I made a tidy salary for hanging out with them. And it’s nice that people working from home full-time due to the pandemic have been able to do so with four-legged friends to keep them company. However, the bring-your-pup-to-the-office days get really old. The more dogs you have, the more they bark and wrestle and trip you up underfoot like they’re at the park, which is basically what this is for them. It’s also (hopefully) the only time you have to worry about stepping in piss or shit on the way to the break room. Hey, if you paid better wages, maybe folks could hire dog walkers or afford doggie daycare… just a thought.
This is money, so that’s a start. But on my birthday? What are you, my grandma? A normal year-end bonus across the board is fine, thank you, and I don’t need a cake either. Let’s trust grown-ups to mark the occasion as they prefer, not serve them corporate reminders of mortality.
This is sure to be a contentious one, but the stocked-fridge-and-pantry setup never sat right with me. I usually wound up dividing my day into different phases of various junk food and forgetting to eat a regular lunch because I was strung out on string cheese. The La Croixs were always gone before they’d had a chance to get cold, unless they were some terrible flavor that nobody wanted. Everyone sticking their hands in the same Costco jar of peanut butter pretzels… barf. When I had the option to order coffee from an in-house barista, I still bought mine at a café across the street so I wouldn’t have to listen to other employees make cringey attempts to flirt with her. Then, of course, a bag of chips and a soda for the drive home, to ensure that I felt like complete shit by the end of my commute. Would have given it all up for a bigger paycheck.
Massages are very relaxing. Less so when you’re getting one in the corner of an open office with only a curtain separating you from the sales department. Best case, they relieve some tension, but what’s causing that tension, hmm? Is it the uncomfortable desk chairs? The lack of work-life boundaries? Or the sense that you can’t pay your bills and stay out of debt? I wonder.
Mental Health Apps and Virtual Therapy
Nothing says “we’re doing as little as possible” like trying to get your workers to enroll in a dubious and scammy-sounding digital mindfulness program to ensure their productivity doesn’t slip for a single moment. We can assume, whether or not your company gains access to your mental health information this way, that the data is at least being mined and catalogued by whatever tech startup swindled its way into this partnership. Actual therapy is criminally expensive in this country, but reducing it to a widget on your phone is no kind of solution. Better to offer a health plan that covers mental health, or, once again, a higher level of compensation.
See? It’s not hard. Stop being quirky. Cash is king. I promise the temptation of a salary that covers rent in a large city will have millennial applicants lining up faster than Taco Tuesday, nap pods or ping-pong tables ever would. Nobody’s trying to live at the office. They just want to live.