millennials want peace and quiet just like everyone else (how shocking)

Over at the Fast Track by QuickBase today, I take a look at several big work-related stories in the news right now: millennials want peace and quiet just like everyone else, not foosball and snacks (shocking!); how to cut down on back-and-forth emails; and more. You can read it here.

{ 184 comments… read them below }

  1. SL #2

    Regarding #2: Peace and quiet, yes, sure, but in all honesty, I never realized how awesome my old job’s fully stocked kitchen and once-a-week catering was until I left and started paying for my own lunches.

    1. CMT

      A steady supply of free food is almost like an increase in salary, though, since you’re not paying for food you would have otherwise. (I realize that some people would prefer just more cash, depending on income and substitution effects.)

      1. Lemon Zinger

        This is true. I saved a lot of money on food when I ate breakfast and lunch at my employer’s expense. Unfortunately they didn’t have many options for people with dietary restrictions. And if you were avoiding sugar, all bets were off!

        1. SL #2

          Our office manager was actually really good about dietary restrictions; we had lots of vegetarians on staff, so options for them were always a given, and if you let her know about other issues with the food, she always found some way to accommodate you. Honestly, I learned so much about how to run a great office from her. It’s a real skill.

        2. all aboard the anon train

          My brother’s company has a program where the company offers a list of delis/restaurants/cafes you can order lunch from each day and they’ll deliver it in bulk to the office. You have to order by a specific time in order to get it, but the company pays for it all. I think there’s a per day $ limit so no one abuses it by ordering like three extra meals to take home that night or something.

          He’s a vegan and a lot of his coworkers have religious or dietary restrictions and he says there are enough options that everyone has multiple choices, which I think is a really cool way to do it.

        3. Anxa

          I’d much rather have the cash. I have no strict restrictions, but I eat very little ready-to-eat snack-type foods and try to keep my carbs on the lowish side.

          If I were in school now, I’d much rather have $10 a week in food aid than have access to school lunches. Similar thing here.

          That said, I do appreciate catered lunches for unusual days, and my current work has a fridge and microwave, so I have more options than I have in the past.

        4. copy run start

          I’d love catered food since I hate cooking and dealing with food in general, but I don’t think I could ask an employer to furnish foods for me since I have a number of serious sensitivities/allergies. Honestly I don’t even know what to eat most times, so I eat a lot of snack foods or the same few items on a regular basis. Food isn’t that important to me though (chocolate excluded!) since for most of my life it’s made me miserable. I await the glorious day of kibble for humans. Give me all of my nutrients in a tasty snack-like format, and make it taste like chocolate.

        5. Turtle Candle

          When I worked for an employer that had a daily catered lunch, I did save a ton of money on lunches. The real benefit of that arrangement, though, was more that the office was in an office park-type location with almost no food available in walking distance, so not having to either pack a lunch or drive to lunch every day was nice all by itself. The convenience more than the money was the big perk.

      2. SL #2

        This job was in a very expensive city, but I was still getting paid market rate, so I was actually able to save quite a lot and getting all that food really helped. My savings account looked pretty impressive after a while. It’s the sort of thing you don’t realize you miss until you’ve left and then you’re staring at your grocery plans like “I need to make my own breakfasts and lunches or buy them at work, right.”

      3. Vicki

        But it’s not “food”. It’s snacks. It’s free candy and popcorn and sugary breakfast cereals and fatty catered lunch “treats” that sit and go soggy on the breakroom tables and smell.

    2. Aurion

      I think it does heavily depend on what is being offered though. If all the food being offered are things you hate, or things you don’t/can’t eat, the perk evaporates. Cold hard cash is pretty universal.

      1. SL #2

        Well, for me, it takes a lot of the stress of meal planning out of my day, which was nice. I can never finish a container of milk before it spoils, so eating my cereal at work instead solved that problem. I don’t have leftovers from dinner last night? I’ll throw together a sandwich in the kitchen and save the $10 I’d spend otherwise. Not stressing over stuff like that was worth a lot more to me than the money.

      2. Geneva

        Absolutely! I worked for a nonprofit that cooked meals for sick people. Twice a week they’d make extra to feed the staff, but it tasted horrible. It was often undercooked, overcooked, and always unseasoned due to the client’s medical meeds. Just give me money so I can buy whatever perks I want….like food with with flavor

    3. Faith

      I know someone who works for Google. He definitely enjoys free breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Weekend is the only time when he actually has to cook.

        1. Faith

          He is young and single and most of his friends work for Google too. So, he just grabs dinner at 6 pm with his buddies at work and heads home.

          1. Bend & Snap

            That makes sense. I’m mid career and while I used to pull 60+ hour weeks, 9-5 is now pretty critical for my happiness :)

      1. Anon for this

        It’s not Google, but I know of a local company like this. Free food! Gym! Daycare! Doctors! Therapists! Everything that might take you away from your desk during work hours!

        Nobody can understand why I never want to work there: YOU CAN’T LEAVE.

      2. cheeky

        The whole purpose of having these meals is that you never leave the office and you stay late. No thanks!

    4. Kyrielle

      To be fair, it’s a question of “most important”. Free food isn’t that great if I can’t concentrate to get my work done.

      Which is different than not liking free food at all! I have lots of dietary restrictions, and even granted that most of the free food is stuff I can’t have, I still like it. But if you told me I could either give up the free food and carry on as I otherwise have been, or have catered meals tailored to my diet for breakfast and lunch but be subject to constant interruptions and chaos, the food would not be my priority. That’s not that surprising; even people who claim millenials want foosball / Wii fit / whatever else / food / etc., don’t claim it’s their *top* priority usually.

      1. SL #2

        Yes, exactly. I feel like there’s a general backlash against perks when no one is saying that they’re going to prioritize happy hours over a good salary, work-life balance, and good health insurance. I went from one great job to another great job, where the former had all the typical start-up perks and the latter doesn’t. In a situation like that, or when I’m comparing two very similar jobs in terms of pay and benefits, the little perks might actually factor in as part of my decision. It’s not my top priority, but it’s a little bonus that I would take a closer look at.

    5. neverjaunty

      You realize that the reason the old job gave you all that free food was to keep you in the office and working, though?

      1. SL #2

        I actually only worked 35 hours a week and I came in/left on time, so no, not in my case.

        (I knew someone was going to bring this up, ugh.)

      2. KTB

        I’m with SL #2. My company maintains a fully stocked pantry and fridge full of mostly healthy food, plus bowls of fresh fruit and free coffee. It’s an agency, so while we occasionally work crazy hours, the food is there as a perk–it’s not a chain to the office.

    6. featherwitch

      Management provides snacks at my workplace- it’s not the most important thing in the world, but on a rough day when I don’t get lunch until late, or I need a piece of gum, it’s incredibly convenient. (I’m the one in charge of purchasing the snacks as well, I try for semi-healthy and a variety of stuff. It’s a small office, and there are a few lunch substitutes as well – small cans of soup, microwave mac and cheese, small cereal boxes etc if you’re desperate.)

    1. Wendy Darling

      The college senior sleeping in her mom’s bed because mom is lonely just caused my brain to crash.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Mom needs a dog. Or two. Seriously, that’s just messed up. I’m sorry she feels lonely but you’re an adult, lady. Act like a grown-ass adult and either learn to deal with being alone, work on getting a new partner, get a dog or a combination of these things and stop using your kids as a security blanket. Ew.

        1. Jadelyn

          Eh, I don’t feel like it’d be fair to a new partner to saddle them with Mom’s insecurities and clinginess, either. Dogs. Or cats. Hamsters? Ferrets? Something like that.

          1. designbot

            The advantage of cats it, they’ll train you. If you smother them, they claw you and run away. Dogs just encourage co-dependency.

    2. C Average

      Yes!

      As long as you’ve brought it up, I have thoughts about that letter.

      I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon lately. I don’t know if it’s new, or if I’m just noticing something that’s been around for a while, but that letter is a really good example of it.

      A person behaves in a certain way, but inwardly feels a different way. (“I don’t talk to people at work unless they talk to me first, but I’m actually quite warm and friendly! I just don’t always act that way.”) Then they get bewildered and bent out of shape when people deem them to be the thing they appear to be. (“My coworkers think I’m a cold bitch, but I’m really not! How can I get them to think more kindly of me without me having to actually talk to them and stuff?”)

      You can’t dictate that the people around you have a more favorable impression of you than what you’re actually presenting. If you act cold enough that people think you’re cold, guess what? You ARE cold, even if you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

      Signed,
      Sometimes I act like a cold bitch, and it’s okay if people call that behavior what it looks like

      1. Feo Takahari

        This often plays out along gendered lines. A man who pushes hard to ensure the success of the department is a go-getter; a woman who does the same is a bitch. I realize it’s easier to change yourself than to change everyone around you, but when changing yourself means becoming less effective or stepping out of the role you’ve been aiming for, I’m all for pushing back against sexist expectations.

        1. Not So NewReader

          There is definitely a line.

          Recently, I got into two discussions with two separate people who were absolutely vehement that they did not have to be nice to people who came into their work place. “If I have a headache and if I don’t feel like being pleasant, I don’t have to.”

          I started shaking my head. I believe that you have to be civil to people and you have to help them to the extent of your job. With my two people here, one person was fired and the second person is in danger of being fired. Neither person realizes that the problems started with being unapproachable. People never know what mood the person is in and never know when it is okay to approach them and when it is not okay. People get sick and tired of guessing and they start thinking to themselves, “You know, I have a headache, too.” And “You know, I don’t like my job either.”

          I had a boss who had personal difficulties and we understood that part. What we did not understand was his mood swings. One day I was talking to him and he started picking up things and throwing them along with yelling, just out of the blue. You better believe I reported that.
          The company was interesting. Their response to stuff like that was to load on more work figuring you will either sink (get fired or quit) or swim (learn the job, over come your problems). So the boss gained about twice the work load he had when he was throwing things. He knew he was being pressure tested.

        2. Chaordic One

          The situation that I find mildly amusing is when we hire a somewhat outgoing woman to work as our receptionist. Even she’s middle-aged and grandmotherly, if she tries to make small talk, acts friendly and attempts to carry on a conversation with them, inevitably the word from the guys in the office is that she’s coming on to them and hitting on them.

          I really thought it was sexism. But when my employer finally hired a guy to work as our receptionist, according to the guys in the office, he too is hitting on the guys in the office. Sometimes guys are just jerks.

          1. Nanani

            OMFG.
            I’d call it objectification, a phenomenon in which these guys, like many of their ilk, cannot understand why anyone would talk to them OTHER than sexual interest.

            Pro tip: the receptionist/barrista/waiter/usher/etc is NOT hitting on you. No one who is getting paid to talk to you is hitting on you. Err on the side of “not hitting on me”, always.

          2. Christopher Tracy

            But when my employer finally hired a guy to work as our receptionist, according to the guys in the office, he too is hitting on the guys in the office.

            The delusion is real in your office.

              1. Hrovitnir

                I would think the issue is more likely that they assume a man choosing to work a “feminine” profession (and is actually friendly perhaps!) is gay and *of course* if he’s gay of course he’s interested! Euuugh. -_-

                Alternatively he actually is gay and then see the second half of the above – still douchebags.

              2. Ixnay Edfray

                STFW if he’s gay. It doesn’t mean he’s hitting on anyone. These employees are just so full of themselves or are so insecure they overcompensate by being full of themselves. They think _everyone_ is hot for them? Please.

          3. Chroma Green

            Well, that sounds quite narcissistic for them to think anyone acting pleasant is merely trying to get into their pants.

      2. aebhel

        Eh, I’m not particularly outgoing, but I don’t think that’s the same thing as being cold, and frankly it is not okay if my coworkers call me a cold bitch because I’m not super chatty.

  2. VX34

    As a certifiable member of the generation de jour…cool perks, fun, and snacks are great. But job security and upward mobility are way, way, way more important than Google-level happy fun times.

    Please have your fainting couches at the ready.

    1. Kristine

      I second this! The last place I worked tried desperately to appeal to millennials in “trendy” ways– we had free soda, a game room with an Xbox and ping-pong table, and weekly team meetings Fridays at 4 with a good supply of beer. But the pay was low, benefits were abysmal, and raises and promotions were slim to none. The turnover there is insane, close to 60% in 2015. They get millennials in the door but can’t keep them.

      1. Anon Always

        I think foosball tables, snacks, catered meals are great in addition to job security, interesting work, upward mobility, generous paid time off, flex-time, good healthcare benefits, and a good retirement package. But, not in lieu of those things. And too many companies seem to think that providing snacks is the equivalent to a decent match for your 401K.

        However, I also wonder how long the open floor plan trend will last? Because to me that often goes hand-in-hand with some of these other gimmicks. I’ve worked in semi-open floor plan and it was almost impossible to concentrate. Barring the desperate need for a job in the future, I’ll never work any place where I don’t have my own office. The ability to close the door is worth all the nerf guns, foosball tables, gaming consoles, and snacks.

        1. Unanimously Anonymous

          Unfortunately the open floor plan trend’s likely to last until hell freezes over. Companies save way too much in office-space expense by eliminating walls and cramming their staff cheek to jowl into the smallest possible floorspace.

        1. Kristine

          We pulled long hours. 10 hour days were expected and 12-15 hour days weren’t uncommon. Sometimes people would take 20-30 minute breaks in the game room and play video games. Since I don’t play video games I was the cranky old lady who grumbled about the gamers distracting me.

            1. Jadelyn

              Seriously…and this is probably a gendered thing, but I’d be too tense about whether my coworkers thought I was “good” at any given game to actually enjoy it or for it to be effective stress relief!

              1. Nanani

                Right?! Take all the reasons why a lot of women gamers don’t identify as such while gaming with strangers, and amplify thousandfold.

                1. De Minimis

                  This is part of why I only play games in single-player mode. I want to be free to explore, mess up, and do crazy stuff.

            2. Purest Green

              With no judgement about how I like to spend hours gathering junk (I already take sass from Codsworth about it. Don’t need it from coworkers.)

        2. esra

          RIGHT. That is my big issue with the fun things. I don’t want to stick around for fun, I want to do my job. Then I want to go home.

        3. Honeybee

          A 30-minute break in the middle of the day, perhaps? We have a couple of gaming systems in our common area that we play with (everyone today was really excited about our new retro Sega Genesis, but then again, I work for a video game company. (And I don’t work long hours – I work 9:30 to 6:00.)

      2. Stranger than fiction

        Yep. This is exactly what my BF has been trying to explain to some others at work. The CEO brags about how everyone is paid about 5-10% below market yet they try to say they make it “such a fun place” to work by having game room, beer once a week, etc. Then people leave and theyre scratching their heads. So he said to HR one day “people arent leaving because the beer is better at the company down the street”.

    2. Lemon Zinger

      100% this.

      I am a millennial. My first job out of college was in a FUN workplace! Music playing, open floor plan, fully-stocked kitchens, frequent happy hours and offsite events, etc.

      It paid $30K. Believe me, I would have traded almost all of that good stuff away for a better salary. Some of it was really bad for workplace productivity, actually. It’s hard to focus on clients when nearby teams are dancing and screaming, or when Katy Perry is playing a little too loud.

      The kitchen was awesome, though. But it’s worth noting that most food/drinks were loaded with sugar, presumably to keep everyone happy and energetic.

      1. Faith

        I used to work for a company that offered what we have affectionately come to call as “the get fat table” every quarter during the accounting close. Since the entire accounting team would work insane 16-18 hour workdays for 2-3 weeks straight, the admins would set up and maintain this little table in the office that had a neverending supply of chocolate bars, doughnuts, soda, pretzels, and anything else you could think of to give you a quick burst of energy in the middle of an all-nighter. I would have gladly said goodbye to the “get fat table” in exchange for being able to leave the office at 6 pm every night and have dinner with my family.

      2. Allison

        I was in the same boat. Thankfully still living with my parents so I didn’t need to make rent, but the crappy pay and lack of benefits was still not good, and the lack of flexibility or privacy was also a huge bummer. I didn’t care that we got to wear jeans on Friday, I didn’t want to wear jeans! I didn’t care about the parties with free beer, or the team outings, I wanted to be paid well and treated like an adult.

    3. Anonathon

      YUP! My simple, traditional office with its kinda ugly carpet is about 1000% better than the funky-design, open-plan one where I used to be. Give me privacy and a nice window any day over a goofy game room that I never once used. But I’m on the old end of Millenial, so maybe I’m a grouch :)

    4. Allison

      The thing about Google is that they ALSO pay their employees well. People don’t work at Google because the office is fun, they want to work there because it’s a well paying, secure job with good benefits AND a cool office. Yet employers who don’t want to pay well convince themselves that copying the cool office is what will make them competitive, because it’s easier than paying well.

      1. Kristine

        What I don’t understand about this is that maintaining a “fun” office is still expensive! I was in charge of signing for happy hour bills and we would regularly spend $10k on a given night for everyone to have a few beers and apps. But a COL raise was out of the question.

        1. Jaydee

          It’s a lot easier and less personally visible to scale back on the perks like happy hours and foosball tables than it is to lay someone off or reduce salaries and benefits.

          The annual cost of monthly happy hours at $10,000 each is $120,000. If you have 200 employees, that’s only a $600 raise – before taxes – for each of them. With a raise, you have permanently increased the person’s salary. You can’t just take it back next year when times are tight. But you could move the happy hours to a different venue that costs less or cut them down to quarterly and it would just look responsible because you’re cutting the fringe-est of benefits rather than salaries or insurance or laying people off.

          1. copy run start

            I think this is it. It’s very difficult to claw back a salary increase (people tend to quit), and a salary increase also raises the cost of SS and Medicare taxes, possibly the UI tax paid, etc. It compounds quickly beyond what the employee actually receives.

          2. Turtle Candle

            Yep. Years ago I worked at a company that had free soft drinks and snacks. The soft drinks and snacks slowly started being replaced less and less often, until they went away altogether. I didn’t even notice until the first day I saw a box of sodas with a name on it in the fridge and realized that we had drifted out of free-sodas territory to bring-your-own territory gradually over the course of a year or so. I definitely would have noticed a pay cut, though, even a small one. (Not to mention that even the cost of Diet Coke for a room full of programmers was cheaper than a notable pay boost for more than about one programmer.)

        2. neverjaunty

          But management gets to partake in the fun and the beer nights and write it off as a business expense. Your salary, on the other hand…

        3. paul

          Screw that! Even for a mid sized office, 2-3 bills like that over a year add up to some cash for employees. I’d rather have 500 or a grand than a work party or three!

  3. Eddie Turr

    I’m a big fan of my office’s snacks and foosball table (and beer!), but I do value peace and quiet — especially since my role rarely requires collaboration.

  4. coffeeopoweerdd

    I am a millennial and every day a gentleman I work with comes to interrupt me, without fail, at least once in the day, with a game that started as inside joke, but has gotten horribly stale over the course of…every day for a year? Oh what I would give for one day of quiet… This letter is making me revel in the times when I could really concentrate and only work with a few people around, and not upwards of 30 in the same large open cubey area. Distractions all day =(

    1. Lanya

      This type of person would likely come and find you even if you had a private office. With the door closed. He might even yell to you through the closed door just to say hi. I had one of these coworkers. He would make his “rounds” every afternoon and I got so sick of it that I tried to be on my lunch break as often as I could during that general time of day.

  5. TeaPotDesigner

    My office used to have a foosball table once, which had been nice, but I doubt anybody actually joined our firm because of it. We would have preferred more chances to do fun design projects like museums. (And then it made us all feel sad because HR shifted it into their cubicle zone and we designers didn’t get to play with it anymore. LOL)

    1. TeaPotDesigner

      In fact, if anything, the supposed perks made things in the office worst. Because as soon as the economy went bad, the foosball table, expensive biscuits and nice sofas were the first to go. They were a big honking neon sign screaming “Firm is not making money! Abandon ship!” despite the director’s best efforts to hide the fact.

  6. C Average

    WAKEEN [in reddish shirt]: I can beat these two all by myself because I am THAT GOOD. I am so good that the ladies ventured into the foosball room just to watch me decimate the competition. After I win this game, I will return to my cube to dominate the TPS reports. I rule.

    JANE [in blue shirt, examining the finger on which she wears her engagement ring while away from the office]: This place is okay, I guess. I really needed a job, so there’s that. I’m glad I listened to my mom and left my ring off for the interview, so the panel wouldn’t think I’m going to need time off for weddings and babies and stuff. I wonder how long I need to be here before I actually ask for time off for my wedding, speaking of which? It’s kind of coming up, and we’ve already paid for everything. Man, I this game lasts until lunch break is over. It’s going to be awkward admitting I’m a millennial who doesn’t know how to play foosball.

    CERSEI [in burgundy turtleneck]: I am so glad I’ve finally recruited another woman to play foosball. The bros are going DOWN! And then Wakeen, who is totally losing this game even though he thinks he’s winning, will see that he should have paired up with me like I suggested.

    JOE [in gray shirt, no tie]: To the left . . . to the right . . . block . . . shoot . . . he shoots he scores!

    GEORGE [in gray shirt with green tie]: Should I have worn a tie on my first day? No one else here is wearing a tie. Does my wearing a tie make it painfully obvious that I’m actually a Gen Xer and not a millennial? Will they fire me if they find out I’m not a millennial? Can I make up for not being a millennial by displaying superior foosball skills? FOCUS ON THE GAME, GEORGE.

    1. Catalin

      SARA [in a silky white blouse with dainty cuffs]: My Gosh, I’m so glad I can unwind after that weird guy’s interview. I mean…wait, did I have a watch on? Damn it, I forgot my watch today! I thought my cuffs were just a bit too silky, *tugs lightly and self-consciously at her left cuff* Oh my, that’s just, wow, it’s positively…what’s the word?

      1. C Average

        Heh! Sara must be out of frame. (I’m goofing on the stock photo in the link which is, as always, hilarious.)

    2. Elizabeth West

      MYRTLE: [sitting in low-walled cube six feet away]: *winces* What were they thinking putting that thing in here? I can’t get any work done. Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP. Come on, five o’clock…pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaze.

    3. disconnect

      DISCONNECT [in office, wearing shirt and tie, just like every work day for the last 16 years]: Thank you Jebus for not answering that ill-thought prayer about working for Google.

  7. Lemon Zinger

    My first employer was “fun” to the extreme. We even had nap rooms, but they were right next to HR so nobody used them, since we were 98% sure that nap room visits were monitored and documented.

    I’ll trade fun stuff for a good salary any day!

    1. Jadelyn

      LOL, my team (which is HR) is trying to convince the wellness director that we need one of those isolation-type nap chairs. Trust me, HR wants to nap just as much as anyone else does. So far, no dice, but we keep hoping!

    2. Senator Meathooks

      I’d still use them…but I’m usually comfortable with challenging authority in small ways by taking things at face value. :)

  8. Big McLargeHuge

    I’ll make you a deal, trade me Foosball for an office with a door. No compromising on snacks though. Snacks are necessary.

    I just want some peace and quiet while I try to focus on that intensive analysis you asked me for without cramming headphones in that may or may not cancel out the person next to me that is on the phone asking waaaaay too many personal questions.

  9. Faith

    The only “perks” that I really care about is 1) covered parking (I live in a state where nasty hail storms are pretty common; 2) office with a door that closes (need to be able to concentrate); 3) being able to stream music at work (some companies are stingy about their bandwidth). Unfortunately, more and more companies seem to be moving towards the “open floor” concept for their office setup. Something about fostering creativity and collaboration. Even though creativity in financial reporting is generally frowned upon [sigh]

    1. Jadelyn

      I’d kill to not have to use my phone’s data plan and crap speakers to get music at work. Just let me use Pandora/YouTube!

      (Also, lol re creativity in financial reporting…isn’t that part of how we all ended up in this screwy economy in the first place?)

      1. Faith

        I ended up having to get a Google Play subscription so that I can download music and podcasts on my phone at home, and listen to them at work. Still sucks because at my previous employer nobody would bat an eye when people were livestreaming Boston Marathon or World Cup games.

    2. all aboard the anon train

      My last company banned Pandora and it really sucked. Downloading Spotify worked for awhile, but then they made IT come around and delete it on anyone’s computer.

      Since my current company has moved to open office, I notice people are less collaborative and keep more to themselves. Everyone disappears into empty conferences rooms to work (which sucks when you’re trying to book a conference room for a meeting).

    3. Mike C.

      Yeah, bandwidth limitations in areas that have plenty of access are a bit silly. It’s like getting upset that you use company electricity or water for personal use. If you’re getting work done and not bothering anyone else, who cares?

      1. disconnect

        LISTEN BUDDY THERE ARE A FINITE NUMBER OF ELECTRONS IN THE UNIVERSE. ONCE THEY’RE GONE, THEY’RE GONE.

        WON’T YOU PLEASE CONSIDER THE ELECTRONS

    4. Elizabeth West

      We’re only allowed Pandora, which sucks. I can’t stream my internet soundtrack radio station. I compromised by inserting a 32 GB micro SD card in my phone and loading a zillion albums on it.

  10. Jadelyn

    I have officially decided that anyone who writes thinkpieces about What (Gimmicks) Millennials Really Want At Work and How To Manage Lazy Millennials and stuff owes every millennial $5 every time they have to turn to one of us to fix their computer or figure out how to work their phones. Let’s see how fast they shut up.

    1. Mike C.

      That’s a fair trade off.

      I always love how those types of articles are loaded with quotes from expensive sounding, fly-by-night consulting firms where the spokesperson is clearing pulling an opinion out of thin air.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Point made. I am so sick of media and that nebulous “everyone” hating on a particular generation.
        Not only am I embarrassed for our country and our media, I am also deeply concerned that we as a society think this is okay.
        These are the people that will run our country in the decades to come. And we are way too invested in pointing out how they are supposedly massive F-ups. When they do take the reins of our nation, I don’t blame them if they say, “Why would anyone bother with this hot mess?”

        Just because our parents did this to us, and their parents did it to them, does not mean we have a constitutional right/duty to pass on the worst habits of our ancestors. If our subsequent generations fail that failure is OURS, not theirs.

        We have a torqued-out section of our society that DELIGHTS in other people’s failures. The problem with this thinking is that when other people lose so do we. If the firemen fail to put out your house fire, then you have just lost your house. Their failure is the home owner’s loss also. No wins here, no happy dances. Extend this analogy out to include our country and we have set the next generation up to lose our country with US still living here. Whoops.

        /rant. I hope everyone hear who is seeing these media articles is able to find supportive people and stick with supportive people. There are still plenty of us who give a crap.

      2. Jadelyn

        That is the single most perfect thing I’ve ever seen. You are doing [deity]’s work by sharing that.

  11. Faith

    Oh, and any company that would offer subsidized quality daycare on its premises would have my loyalty forever.

    1. Bend & Snap

      Mine does. I don’t use it but the daycare I do use has a discount for employees of my company which is wonderful.

    2. Nanc

      Me too, and I don’t even have kids! It would be ideal if the caregivers were also company employees with benefits, etc., but even a partnership with a daycare franchise where the company provides the space would be a plus.

      I wish there were a way for small businesses to band together and sponsor this sort of thing, too. If you only have 5 or 6 employees it’s not really feasible, but it would be awesome to have daycare options located near clusters of small businesses (I know, I know, right next to the Unicorn farm and the self-cleaning-home factory . . . ).

    3. Purest Green

      My current employer used to offer this. Because we have several locations it wasn’t on the premises, but it was very little cost for the workers and offered employment to the people who ran it. It got cut a few years after I started.

    4. Honeybee

      Me, too, and I don’t even have any children. I think that’s the most important/best benefit. I’d trade in free food and drinks for that.

  12. Bend & Snap

    My last job was “fun.” Beer cart, ice cream socials, jeans every day, happy hours, programs to get together with coworkers, formal shout-outs in meetings. It also had low pay and long hours.

    And HIGH FIVE TUESDAYS.

    You know what I get now at my corporate job, besides competitive pay and work/life balance?

    BONUSES.

    That beats a high five any day.

    1. Jadelyn

      Now I’m just thinking about Deadpool giving Dopinder (the taxi driver) a “crisp high-five” since he didn’t have his wallet.

    2. Christopher Tracy

      Yes, bonuses are lovely. I’ve gotten over $5k in bonuses already this year – I’m a very happy millenial :)

  13. Intrepid

    What I, a Verified Millennial, want in a work environment:

    1) Full-time, permanent roles. I’ve never actually had sick days, except when I had a monthly stipend. It paid below poverty level, sure, but I could take off when I was sick!
    2) Market. Rate. Wages. Then I can buy my own snacks!
    3) Some stretch assignments to go with your data entry. Y’all only hire people with Masters degrees, I can do more than enter business cards.
    4) More work. I want to be too busy to post multi-point comments on AAM.

    But hey, I guess I’m just #Entitled

      1. Intrepid

        But that would require a company that isn’t 75% millennials, 25% CEOs– you know, because we’re so cheap to employ, and need no training!

    1. Anxa

      In a recent post Alison said 10 days paid vacation was the bare minimum. I’m 30 years old, and the only time I was able to take a day off without a pay cut is when I worked in a stipended position in college where some of the positions were work study and I got mono and my office hours were reduced and my responsibilities were shifted to the less butt-in-seat ones.

      I was thinking of how I’m going to be able to have a kid one day and having to budget for losing your job, since I’m not sure I’ll ever qualify for upper echelon benefits like FMLA and paid vacation and stuff.

        1. Anxa

          I still can’t imagine how awesome it must feel to be in a job where you’re so well valued that they pay you even if you’re sick. That must be so awesome.

    2. Jadelyn

      I literally almost cried when my temp position converted to employee status, because I wouldn’t have to balance “how bad do I feel, can I force myself to work through this?” with “can I afford to miss a day on this check?” anymore. I still marvel at my sick and vacation balances from time to time. I spent 7 years temping with no benefits, so it was almost dizzying to suddenly get them.

      1. Intrepid

        I haven’t let myself take a sick day in about 1.5 years–even when my family member died, I was in the office 14 hours after I got the news because, hey, minimum wage doesn’t pay enough to grieve.

        I’ve just been reflecting, recently, and I personally feel that the entire notion of the “gig economy” as something millennials actively want is just a salve on the conscience of those who won’t make us full-time permanent. But then again, I’ve met a few people who might actively chose it– just many, many fewer than currently do.

        1. Purest Green

          Yes, millennials really want those gig jobs only to passed over for full-time employment because they seem like flaky job hoppers.

        2. Jadelyn

          Oh it 110% is. They want to convince themselves that we’re *grateful* for being treated like disposable crap so they don’t have to feel bad about it. I think my favorite manifestation of this was a business management magazine article which described temp jobs as “giving employees flexibility”. Like. Speaking as someone who’s done that extensively, I don’t think that means what you think it means. Unless you think “flexibility” means “walking on eggshells with no benefits or job stability, because you know you’re completely replaceable and if you ever mess up they don’t even have to fire you, they just *shrug* can’t find work you’re suitable for ever again.”

        3. paul

          I’m not sure exactly what millenials are anymore–the group keeps growing–but I’m in my 30s, and we have a hand full of 20 somethings in our agency. And I know a few more socially or through family.

          I’d bet a paycheck most of them don’t want the gig economy

          1. Intrepid

            Officially, most 30-somethings are millennials but most teenagers aren’t. In practice, though, I think “millennial” is defined as “someone I’d like to call a ‘young whippersnapper’ if that was still a colloquialism.” =)

    3. Honeybee

      Ugh, #3 for sure. My husband’s currently job searching and there seems to be an enormous gulf between “data entry for $13/hour” and “project manager with 5-7 years of experience, preferably doing the exact same thing at a very similar company”.

  14. Bookworm

    I’m not surprised by the results of work/life boundaries.

    It’s definitely important to have a distinction, of course. But healthy boundaries *should* be able to expand and contract situationally. If delineations are too rigid, that can lead to guilt and uncertainty when they bleed over – which, as the article mentions, they almost certainly will.

    1. Clever Name

      Yeah, I agree. My personal life is pretty mixed in with my work life. My work and personal calendars are integrated, and it makes life so much easier. I worked from home today because I’m gross with a sinus infection, and I was answering emails in the doctor’s office because I really didn’t have anything better to do. I can leave work to go to a classroom party at my son’s school, but on the other hand I got home from work at 9 last Friday because I had to go take some samples. It’s definitely a trade off, but overall I’m happy with the balance.

  15. Just Another Millennial

    I’m a person who was born in the 1990s (I despise the term “Millennial”, as it has become more of a derogatory term than a title for our generation). The idea of Nerf gun fights or foosball games breaking out in the office during working hours is ABSOLUTELY NAUSEATING! I want my work office to be a work office, not a frat house. I actually like being professional, and prefer to keep work and play abundantly separate. Game time is when I’m at home relaxing with my actual friends, not in the office where I am surrounded by the people who make big decisions about my career, wearing a suit, and juggling two reports that are due at 5:00. Free snacks would be cool I guess, but really I could care less. Let me keep a snack drawer at my desk and I’m perfectly content.

      1. Just Another Millennial

        My apologies, the desk was assumed- given that I’m working on a computer but also required to store hard copies of certain reports. But perhaps I’m assuming too much, how entitled of me.

        1. Intrepid

          A Real Millennial could balance her laptop on her knees, like she did in college. Desks are for senior employees =p

          (OK, not as bad, but I had one employer try to set me up at a 1′ x 3′ card table. That was to be my formal workspace “until something else opened up.”)

        2. Purest Green

          I once worked off the side of my boss’s desk…on my personal laptop I brought from home because they didn’t have a computer for me yet (not that there would have been anywhere to put it). I left so quickly. Nightmares.

      2. davey1983

        This is actually a sore spot for me. I’m technically a millennial (born in the early 80s), and the person ordering the desks actually thought this way. Everybody who was in their mid-30s and younger got desks without drawers (I didn’t even know they existed!). Anybody who was late-30s and older got desks with drawers.

        When we pointed out that we had documents that were confidential and should not be left out on our desk, not to mention the fact we had to many documents to store on our desk (apparently millennials also do not have hard copies of anything and only use digital documents), they still wouldn’t get us desks with drawers!

        The eventual compromise was that they would put in some drawers with locks on them. However, the guy ordering them decided that the lock could be the same on all of the various drawers, so now I have a key that can access the confidential files of half of my coworkers (despite the fact that there is a law making it illegal for me to have access to these documents).

        All because some guy think millennials would only store snacks in a desk (and, honestly, even if that was the case, why is that an issue?)

  16. Snork Maiden

    As a millennial, I want peace, quiet, a door, good healthcare and childcare, opportunities for advancement, and good management. Foosball and snacks I can arrange for myself on my own time. Feel free to quote me widely on this.

    1. Audiophile

      A door, how revolutionary. I forgot how much I love doors. And don’t give me a door and then say you don’t want me to use it.

      “We like to leave our doors open around here.”

      UM, why? In case people try to escape?

  17. Audiophile

    Can we round up the people who suggested open office plans and put them in the center of the town square or something?

    I abhor open office plans. Almost all agencies (marketing, advertising, digital, etc) have gone open office, so if I ever make it through their process, I’ll have to suck it up and endure an open office plan.

    I’d much prefer privacy, quiet, a solid salary and benefits, to trendy things like Nerf guns and constant happy hours.

    1. SL #2

      My job with the cubicle farm is way louder than my job with the open office ever was, but I think it’s more of a company culture thing where it’s apparently okay to yell across cubicles for your coworkers.

      1. Drink the Juice Shelby

        I used to sit next to a lady that had no concept of an inside voice. She would yell to people three cubes away. I despised her. Once she left it became much more quieter. Now I also own some awesome headphones that with a little music block out near everything around me.

      2. EddieSherbert

        Yeah, I’m in a cube farm…. I used to be in the far back corner, “attached” to people who worked from home 90% of the time.

        Recently they moved me (adding new cubes, not wanting new people to be “alone” in their cube pod when they start) near the main door and customer service department. It’s not been a happy change :(

        But, headphones are a life-saver. And empty conference rooms (sorry people who want meetings).

    2. Manders

      Planet Money did a great podcast about the rise of the open office. Apparently, the idea came to an advertising CEO in a vision. He was totally nutty and his employees hated it, but the firm produced a lot of influential work around the time they redesigned their office, so their creativity was attributed to the new building plan.

      1. Anxa

        I heard some of that episode, but I forget…

        didn’t the designer have second thoughts about it later?

    3. TeaPotDesigner

      To be fair to us designers, one reason open plan offices (and increasingly, hot desking office plans) has gotten so popular is that it is easier to put more people per square meter in an open plan office than one with internal partitions and doors. That is quite often the land lord’s only concern

  18. all aboard the anon train

    As someone on the mid-older end of the millennial spectrum (30), I definitely second all the comments. I wouldn’t mind a gym on-site, a fully stocked kitchen or catered lunches, a nap room, dog friendly, or whatever other perks they had as long as I had market rate pay, great healthcare benefits, a 401K and commuter reimbursement.

    A lot of the places I’ve interviewed at – and a few I’ve worked at – only offer commuter reimbursement for people who drive. Which sucks when it’s a company located on the subway but they won’t subsidize the fare. Monthly subway passes are expensive.

    Honestly, when I look for jobs now, I’m wary when they list their “cool perks” in the ad. I want to know the salary and benefits, not that you’re offering (and these are things I’ve seen): free flip-flops every year, a concierge service to book livery cabs or flights, a trampoline, a music room/studio, weekly “fun activities” like making jello shots or building birdhouses or whatever.

    1. Audiophile

      Strangely enough, I’ve seen a lot of companies offer either or (subsidized train fare, subway fare or car). As someone who briefly commuted to the city from the suburbs, the subsidies didn’t touch either fare. Metrocards $100+ a month, train fare is even higher.

      1. all aboard the anon train

        When I first started working, unlimited monthly subway cards were about $80. I was commuting from the suburbs before I found an apartment in the city and the monthly train pass was $300. I was pretty annoyed that the company thought only people who drove deserved a subsidy, especially since at that time $80 was a lot for me, let along $300.

        1. Audiophile

          Train fare is about $400 from the northernmost tip of MetroNorth.

          The first non-profit I worked for offered either a car subsidy, a train subsidy or a subway subsidy. I really needed all 3 options, since I had to drive to the train station, take the train and 2 subways to get to my job.

    2. Audiophile

      Strangely enough, I’ve seen a lot of companies offer either or (subsidized train fare, subway fare or car). But only allow you to divert money to one of those. I’m assuming that’s something to do with the tax laws.

    3. Anxa

      I would definitely take a lower salary for perks that would offset that:
      Like, I’d take a lower hourly salary if I could get full-time employment, since I could then qualify for 10 year PSLF
      (make my health insurance ridiculously expensive so I can skip it if that’s what your worried about)
      Similarly, some people would take a cut to be classified as an employee. Yeah, you then have to pay SS tax, but a lot of people would benefit from PSLF that end up working 2-8 years that don’t count toward it cuz they are fellows or postdoc scholars, etc. Plus, then you could start an IRA!
      Transportation subsidies
      Daycare or flexible schedule, if I had kids

  19. Allison

    I don’t need my job to provide fun, I don’t want the types of “fun” provided by most employers. I want to go in early, get my job done in peace, then go home with enough time to shower, put on my fun clothes, and go out. if I’m doing a good job, I’d like to be rewarded with flexibility, pay, and vacation time so I can have fun outside of work, on my own terms, with people I actually enjoy spending time with.

  20. F.

    Millennials are just like the rest of us!! Who’d ‘ave thunk it?! LOL!

    Seriously, foosball tables and snacks are a heckuva lot cheaper than cubicles, enclosed offices, professional development, good insurance and raises. They’re just a gimmick, and like most gimmicks, have a rather limited influence on hiring and retaining good employees. In fact, I’d go so far as to avoid companies with gimmicks like that because I would wonder just what their priorities are. But then I’m just a curmudgeonly old baby-boomer (age 55), so what do I know! LOL!

    1. Not So NewReader

      Not only are they a gimmick but it sends a message that the company thinks it is employing children.
      Going back to the issue of quiet in the workplace, my boss and I are boomers and we want quiet in the workplace also. Why are there people yelling and what is all that banging? We are in an office building. I never realized this concept was so hard to grasp.

  21. mazzy

    I still feel like they don’t know when the younger generations’ cut offs are. I think older generations has cut offs around certain events; genx and millenial seem sort of random.

    I saw an article on yahoo recently that described millenial as approaching middle age and genx as old people, or that was at least the gist, and it seemed so misleading considering that genxers are still having babies and buying houses and some millenial just started college.

    My experience with the generations is that people are on a sliding scale and trying to cram them into categories isn’t going to work.

    1. Norbsa

      Oh yea. My boyfriend’s dad was trying to compliment us the other day by making comments about the “millennials” that ..(stereotype here) and how someone explained this to him also in a work presentation and the two of us had to keep insisting that we WERE millennails

    2. Anon for this

      The “millennial” group keeps growing! I think I said this yesterday or earlier this week, but at 22, I was old for a millennial. Now at 25, I’m hearing about millennials in their late 30s. Gen X is getting Get Off My Lawn: Part II.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Boomers have the same problem. Used to be boomers ended in 1960. Now the boomers end in 1964? I think the definition changes for sheer convenience.

    3. Honeybee

      Millennials were born between the early 1980s (around 1982) and the late 1990s/early 2000s (somewhere between 1998 and 2001). So Millennials are in the ~18-35 age group right now.

      Generation X was born between 1964 and the early 1980s, so Gen Xers are late 30s to early 50s these days.

      1. Not So NewReader

        OMG. This means that someone four years younger than me is a Gen X. It would be interesting to hear which generation they identify with more closely.

        Although I grew up in the 60s I don’t strongly relate to hippies, etc. They seemed so much older than me at that time and in some ways they still do seem older. I don’t relate totally to the first of the boomers, either because their post war world was very different from what I grew up in.

      2. De Minimis

        I agree with this, I’m solidly Gen-X [born in the early 70s] and I feel like my coworkers [most of whom are in their early to mid-30s] are definitely way closer to Millenials–we don’t have the same cultural/historical memories.

    1. Chickaletta

      +1.

      And, what’s with all the gimmicky perks, are they really that common? I’ve never working in a place remotely like that. I’m a Gen Xer and the biggest perk I ever got at a job was the candy dish on the meeting room table which the Baby Boomers would gather ’round to reminisce about the days when drinking alcohol at lunch was the norm and work holiday parties lasted all day and didn’t consist of any work getting done. Then the generation after me is getting foose ball tables? I feel like I got cheated.

      1. SL #2

        I don’t actually think they’re that common, but tech companies are very vocal about having those perks, and then that creates a backlash (like on this forum, for example), and then you have 10 billion think pieces about why Google/Facebook/Snapchat/what have you are doing things right/wrong, so it just feels like everyone everywhere is doing this.

        1. Honeybee

          And the thing is, the big companies that have gimmicky perks also have excellent benefits and other perks, too. Google is often in the news for its beautifully designed offices and free food but they also have above-average pay and great healthcare benefits.

      2. Jadelyn

        I think it’s a regional thing. Working in the Bay Area (California), I can tell you that they’re pretty common at certain types of companies – mostly tech companies and creative startups in the City, but I’ve seen them at a medical malpractice insurer in Napa, too, so…*shrug*

          1. Jadelyn

            I can’t decide if I love or hate that I knew exactly which strip that was before I clicked on it…

      3. Christopher Tracy

        Millennial here, and I’ve never had these perks either. I’d like to have a spa onsite. Otherwise, I can do without everything else.

  22. Nanani

    I used to work in a region where open office is absolutely the norm, and you only get a private office if you are a TOP EXECUTIVE, and even then small firms might not give anyone private offices at all.

    They managed to be both boring AND distracting.

  23. Landshark

    Im a millennial (though I don’t love that term due to its kids-these-days connotations) and I love weird events and food–and I work at a college, so I get them sometimes because they let faculty get in on it. However, when I need to work, I really would trade a quiet workspace for every possible amenity. Last year, the adjunct faculty workroom was a tiny cubicle in a busy hallway and this year it’s a quiet building right next to the main building on that campus, and the difference in how much I like my office hours now and how much I can get done is SHOCKING. Give me a reasonably uninterrupted space and I’ll work my butt off.

  24. EJ

    As a millennial (32 is still millennial, right?), I’d rather have all higher pay and privacy, than super food/game perks. I mean, we have free coffee and tea, we get to eat the left-overs after a weekly breakfast/lunch events (quality catered meals), maybe a few snacks get brought in here and there, and discount gym memberships at the University gym… these are good enough for me!

    But recently a new office building was built for us and they created a layout where EVERYONE has offices! Let me tell you… I’m not as stressed out and irritated.. and productivity went up 1,000%!

  25. sy

    Now that I’ve worked in an office with catered lunches and free snacks it would be hard to go back. I save a lot of money and we’re encouraged to take food home at the end of the day if there are leftovers, so I sometimes am able to feed my family as well.

    The happy hours and monthly birthday celebrations though? Meh.

  26. Geneva

    If I had the choice between an office and free snacks, I’d choose the office. It’s impossible to concentrate in an open environment where people are free to drink whiskey, bring their dogs, put their bare feet up, and pretty much treat common areas like their personal living room. I just want to do my job, get paid and go home. I’m 27 btw.

  27. stevenz

    #2. I think the millenials a loose, non-traditional workplace like ( fill in the blank ) came from the Silicon Valley startup types where foosball and flip-flops and funny hats were all the rage and kind of defined work for that generation, even though it was a very small sampling of that generation. It supposedly encouraged creativity. There were thousands of articles written about it: “The Future of Work!”. Of course, they also worked 16 hour days, whether because they didn’t get enough done during regular working hours, or it was just the price they paid. That model doesn’t transfer well to other kinds of work, so it’s no surprise that peace and quiet scored so high. It would with me. Silence is Golden.

  28. Honeybee

    I’m one of the few who prefers an open workplan. I worked in one for the first 6 months at my job and we recently moved into offices. I’m not the only one, either – a lot of people on my team were actually disappointed when we moved into offices because we were used to working in a communal open office space and lots of collaboration going on. (But we’re also the type of office who plays video games in the middle of the day – both work and non-work). Our offices are also not your traditional type of offices – the sliding doors and windows are all glass, so you can see directly into them. We end up leaving the doors open all day unless we have a call; I feel weirdly cut off from the rest of the team if my door is closed, and many days half of us end up working together at the conference tables/couches in our common area. I didn’t find it any harder to concentrate at my open desk than I do here.

    I also do like the fun events as long as there’s balance. Of course my first priority is always reasonable hours, good pay, health and dental, insurance, etc. But free food, video games in the lounge, ping ping tables, free movies – I’ll never begrudge those things. My company has some of those and it’s actually pretty nice, but what really made me excited were the actual life benefits and stuff. THe rest are just perks – nice to have, make the office feel great if you partake, not necessary.

  29. Vicki

    I found this line to be interesting:

    >> and definitely set them up in open office spaces to promote the constant collaboration we’re told they want.

    I have not read a single article that suggests “millennials” want “constant collaboration” (and I read a lot of articles about open plan spaces because I abhor them). As far as I know, the trend was started and has been pushed along by managers, not employees of any age.

  30. Employment Lawyer

    4. Using up vacation time right before resigning
    IMO, you shouldn’t do it. Once you resign you should focus on training your replacement, unless you’re a relatively worthless employee. That is how good people leave.

  31. Natalie

    Any time I see a company advertising how it’s such a ‘fun’ place to work I just roll my eyes. To me that (almost always) glaringly indicates you’ll be paid under market value and pulling long, painful hours; but you can be satisfied with that if they throw a couple of free organic candy bars at your face and the ability to play ping pong whenever you want.

    I’m probably just a grump but if you want me to be a happy employee just pay me what I’m worth, let me work in peace with my headphones in, leave the candy bars on my desk, and back away slow.

    Writing this makes me realize that I really made the right choice to work for myself. I talk to very few people most days and it is GLORIOUS.

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