I’ve read my fair share of articles on millenials and feel like I have a good enough understanding of how to work with them.  However, this blog post was a wake up call for me.  Here is an example.

HotSchedules employees, half of whom are millennials, enjoy unlimited paid vacation, and they’re not the only ones to be pampered. Euro RSCG Worldwide PR employees, the majority of whom are members of Gen Y, enjoy company-sponsored rooftop happy hours three days a week, half-day Fridays and time off for volunteer work. Most recently millennials at the PR firm have asked for free food and reimbursement for a personal trainer. The company’s CEO, Marian Salzman, says this is part of hiring millennials – they’ve moved past 9 to 5 and gray flannel suits. Even as a millennial myself, I have to ask, are these companies spoiling Gen Y? (Emphasis mine)

I thought stories like this were over and done with.  I worked in Silicon Valley in the late 90s and remember the perks companies offered to attract top talent.  But money was plentiful then.  This is not going to be a post about how companies can afford to offer these kinds of perks.  If they can afford it, great.  I wish them well.

I want to focus on the last statement in the paragraph above.  A perception of millenials is that they have a sense of entitlement.  Based on this blog post a natural reaction could be, “ya think?”  But a closer examination reveals something deeper.  A desire for flexibility.  I believe this is based on the perceived (and actual) malleability of our culture and how we (millenials and the rest of us) interact with it.  The author of the blog post offers a summary below.

But the millennial style of working can yield success if the boss is willing to remodel the status quo. Gen Y moves as fast as or faster than the market and is eager to change the way business is done. While bottom lines, quarterly reports and profits are important to millennials, brewing change is more important in the Gen Y world.

So how do we balance flexibility with accountability?  In an example from the blog post, “Grooveshark is your everyday office with a conference room, chill room with a ping pong table and a kitchen with a chef that makes breakfast to order every morning . The office is occupied 24 hours per day and scheduling is as flexible as possible as long as teams are working together.”  This clearly fits the culture of the organization.  If you look at the staff of Grooveshark you will notice they are all millenials.  This is comfortable for them and the company is willing to provide perks that attract talent.  What’s in it for the company?  A loyal, dedicated, satisfied team.

Not every company can or should offer these kinds of perks.  Grooveshark is small (about 50 employees) and fairly homogeneous with regard to age (millenials).  Bigger companies with a more diverse staff have to balance the capabilities and preferences of everyone with the needs of the business.

What are my take-aways from this post?  Some of the stereotypes about millenials aren’t completely accurate.  They are willing to work hard and care about the quality of their work.  They also care about things outside of work and expect to have time to pursue other interests.  Every organization has to decide how to accommodate these preferences.  This post provides rich insight into how millenials work.  Give it a read.