Written by a fellow Millennial
It’s Not Just A Digital Transformation We Are Going Through!
As many companies are in the midst of the digital transformation trend, they are also going through another, just as impactful, transformation, no doubt connected to the former.
Whose Driving It?
Millennials are autonomous and want to have a comfortable work-life balance while at the same time having a positive social and environmental impact. They value learning and growth over salaries and bonuses. They value quality of work over quantity of work. And they value diverse experiences over loyalty.
With many millennials changing the status quo of societal expectations, we are coming into an age of entrepreneurial enterprise transformation. Companies are allowing their employees more autonomy and say in how it is being run. That is, mandates from the top down are no longer being followed. Millennials want it done their way and they believe that value rises up through the ranks rather than down. They are taking charge of the opportunities they are discovering and owning them as if they were their own company. They are becoming intrapreneurs.
Watch The Sidelines!
These intrapreneurs are innovating at the edge. They don’t play the game front and center because this is where one must play by traditional rules. They are playing the ball up the side lines with more radical approaches that not only bend, but break the rules, and then next thing you know they are taking a small revenue stream of the business and pivoting it as the new core.
Who Are They Changing?
Instead of pushing back on these Millennial rebels who are trying to take over, companies instead are adapting. We have begun to see this in the modern hiring practices and benefits packages offered by corporations such as Google, Facebook and Netflix that more closely matches what it would like if you worked for yourself.
- Pets get to come to work – Pets allow you to meet people you otherwise might not meet and also force you to take breaks for fresh air, increasing job satisfaction and productivity.
- Free fitness classes and intramural sports – These build team bonds, improve communication and keep workers healthy.
- 80/20 rule – Allows employees to spend 20% of their time working on personal projects that fit in with the company’s mission.
- Maternity Leave – They offer almost triple that of the traditional 6 weeks off policy and subsidize babysitting.
- Free Food – This helps build relationships at work and keeps employees there longer.
- Free shuttle to work – It’s eco-friendly and allows employees a stress-free commute where they can get work done.
- Unlimited Vacation – Most people circumvent vacation policies anyway and 2 weeks is certainly not sufficient for a year’s worth of recuperation from work, especially those of us who work more than 40 hours. Those that would abuse this are not hired in the first place.
- Choice of Compensation – Netflix allows its employees to choose a compensation that is valuable to them individually, rather than forcing a one-size-fits-all approach which assumes that everyone is motivated by the same things. They get to pick between a higher salary or a lower salary offset with non-vested equity in the company. They believe that vesting impositions “hand-cuff” you to your work, so when you want to leave, you can’t and then Netflix won’t be getting the best work out of you.
- Swapping out Annual Performance Reviews for 360 Degree Feedback – Annual feedback is 1 year too late. Netflix expects employees and managers to have these conversations organically as part of their work, that way employees can improve in the moment. But managers aren’t perfect either, which is why they expect feedbackto come from all directions.
Innovation is Key!
According to Reed Hasting, Netflix CEO, “As a society, we’ve had hundreds of years to work on managing industrial firms, so a lot of accepted HR practices are centered in that experience. We’re just beginning to learn how to run creative firms, which is quite different. Industrial firms thrive on reducing variation (manufacturing errors); creative firms thrive on increasing variation (innovation).”
Has The Value of Hard Work Disappeared?
The American culture has always been a culture of hard work values. In the past century, we have had non-English immigrants come over in swarms trying to achieve the American Dream, starting from nothing and working their way up. We have had a Great Depression, the hardest time in American history. We have had an industrial revolution where manufacturing, a very labor-intensive way to earn a living, was the leading industry. And we have also had two World Wars which one could say tests the limits of our physical strength. All of these moments in history have helped form our hard work cultural values.
But in today’s world where all the heavy lifting is done by computers and robots, Millennials have been distanced from the old century meaning of “hard work” and instead are embracing “smart and creative work.” They are now using their minds more than their bodies.
Millennials still have the same American grit, just with a new appearance. As parents, what is it that we say we desire most? To make the world a better place for our children. To give them what we didn’t have. We’ll that’s exactly what we have done, isn’t it? The average standard of living, measured through GDP per capita, has more than doubled in the past century. And now that our children have this, what we have given them has shaped them into what they have become. Our desire to give them better lives has caused them to embrace values such as work-life balance, experiences, growth, and quality of life.
The Traditional “Old-Farts” Will Get Left Behind
For those companies that are still headed up by traditional “old-farts” that are resisting the change, this is what the culmination of their efforts have amounted to. If they don’t change with them, then they will get left behind.
Drucker Knew This Was Coming!
It was the famous Peter Drucker, who predicted this exact shift in the way we work – transforming from an industrial employee society to one of creative intra and entrepreneurs. With popular platforms such as Uber and Amazon enabling individuals to essentially be their own boss, society is getting a greater taste to what it’s like to be entrepreneur-like, and it is sweet.
McCord, Patty. “How Netflix Reinvented HR.” HBR. 2014.
Jillian D’Onfro. “An Inside Look at Google’s Best Employee Perks.” Inc. SEP 21, 2015. https://www.inc.com/business-insider/best-google-benefits.html
Crum, Rex. “Facebook Employees’ Favorite Perks — Here’s 8 of the Best.” The Street. Nov 25, 2015. https://www.thestreet.com/story/13371353/1/facebook-employees-favorite-perks-here-s-8-of-the-best.html.
“US Real GDP Per Capita by Year.” Miltpl. http://www.multpl.com/us-real-gdp-per-capita/table/by-year
US GDP Per Capita graph. World Bank. 2017. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CD?end=2016&locations=US&name_desc=true&start=1960&view=chart