I decided a while ago that I wanted to leave New York. Thousands of writers have written their own odes to NYC, and thousands more will. Leaving New York was a weird decision. My FOMO kicked in the instant I decided I wasn’t going to renew my lease. I panicked. I even looked for a temporary furnished sublet just so I wouldn’t have to imagine what I’d miss if I left. But as I cruised back into Manhattan from Bed-Stuy on the J train, I realized that it was time to go. I missed my family, my friends, my community, my life back in Ohio. It was time to go.
One of the easier things to say goodbye to was my job. While I truly enjoyed the work that I did and felt passionately about impacting my audience through my writing and strategy work, I never truly felt whole. Sure, there were days where I felt like I’d really done something impactful, days I felt excited, days I felt accomplished. But they were few and far between.
The day before I left, an article popped up on Forbes that spoke every word I was thinking and preparing to publish in this blog. And it’s so important that companies of all kinds read, absorb, and act upon these words. Whether you like it or not, Millennials are the near future of companies. We’re the customers you can’t (or choose not to) figure out. We’re the “spoiled brats” who have a “false sense of reality” and were given too many participation trophies when we were kids. We’re always on our iPhones. We’re always Instagramming. And we’re not brand (or employer) loyal.
But do you know what happens when you complain? Usually nothing. So as the old saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. This is why I left…and why I’ll keep leaving if companies don’t learn to adapt to the new reality:
I’m a number. In my career, I’ve felt like a number more often than not. Whether it stemmed from not being recognized for good work, a boss taking credit for my hard work, or just never being spoken to by a senior executive, feeling like a number isn’t pleasant. And before people make the argument that that’s what large companies do, think about what’s possible when someone sets their mind to making their employees feel valued. Despite tons of hard work and a lot of lasting processes and project, I never felt like a valuable asset to the company – only a number that could be cut at anytime.
My “raise” didn’t even cover the rise in my rent. I know, I know. NYC rent prices are RIDICULOUS. But how can you expect your employees to keep working for you at a relevant pace when they seemingly make less money each year? Last year, my rent went up $100 a month from the previous year. Do you know how much my raise was? $1,100 for the year. So I technically had less take-home pay from the year before. And I busted my butt for that $1,100 “raise”. Which leads me into my next point…
Mediocrity is rewarded more than high performance. It’s so easy to notice people not working when you walk through an office. Whether they’re gossiping at their desk, surfing the interwebs, or taking extended lunch breaks, there are so many people who spend a lot of time doing other things than their jobs. What’s even easier to notice is that these people are often promoted, given high-visibility projects, or praised for the good work that they actually do. It’s completely deflating. I want to work hard. I want to be recognized for that hard work. And if those two things happen, then I want to work for your company.
I’ll care about the bottom line when the bottom line cares about me. Listen – I know that the bottom line in most industries is cash. But do I care about the bottom line when most of it goes into the CEO’s pocket? Absolutely not. We had a crappy year of sales. My raise was laughable. Yet Mr. CEO still got a $6M bonus? Disgusting.
Culture doesn’t mean free coffee in the break room or a rah-rah session with desserts. If you’ve got a bunch of people working in your company who don’t give a crap about what they do every day, then I don’t want to be a part of it. I want to work with passionate, articulate, and motivated people who are working toward a bottom line that means something more than cash in someone else’s pockets.
It’s true – most of these problems live in large companies. But they’re good things to keep in mind as you start to evolve your organization, your brand, and the types of people you bring onto your team. Millennials are on the brink of senior management. Are you ready?
About the Author: When she’s not training for triathlons, singing, or cooking you can probably find Kadi acting as our de facto Millennial Blogger. She puts her OU journalism degree and experience working with nonprofit organizations to good use by crafting popular posts on culture, marketing, and communications for us. You can connect with her on Linkedin