Millennials placing work perks before the job

A special report was published in the March 30 issue of “Crain’s Detroit Business,” titled “Millennials in the Workplace.” This article and survey was made up of the responses of over 400 metro Detroit young professionals born between 1980 and the mid ‘90s discussing what they want and expect out of an employer these days. The article was eye-opening when it comes to what our generation wants out of a workplace and what the working world actually is, and it really got me thinking.

“Like many of her generation, she knows what she wants,” said the article of one of the professionals surveyed. “That includes a flexible workplace that allows her social life to integrate seamlessly with her professional life, mentorship, a strong company mission, and a challenging career.”

A growing number of companies are doing the “Quicken Loans thing,” from offering employees basketball courts and free lunch every day, to Segways and naps. And that’s awesome. Who doesn’t want to jump on a trampoline on their lunch break? But the more companies that offer atmospheres like that, the more job seekers want them, expect them, and get disappointed when they can’t get them.

Being an aspiring journalist, I’ll use my pseudo-journalistic integrity to give you a disclaimer that I might be biased in my next statement. Seeing as how you’re probably not getting an entry-level job in journalism without offering up numerous unpaid internships, a Pulitzer, newsroom experience and your first born child, are millennials being a little bit demanding in what they expect out of a workplace so early in their career?

As a natural night owl who struggles to be kind of useful before two cups of coffee, I’d love a job where I can come in from 11 until 7 in my jeans and t-shirt and have a Slurpee machine at my desk. But really, when I begin my post-fellowship job hunt, I’d be a-okay with a job that offers me the chance to write, a salary that allows me to pay my loans back without sobbing onto my keyboard as I click “submit” every month, and some cool people to work with who appreciate each other’s work. I’m all for aiming high and knowing what I want, and I’m not saying we need to prepare ourselves for a lifetime “Office Space”-style monotony, but if our generation expects so much out of a workplace, will we just be setting ourselves up for disappointment as we hop from job to job waiting for that magical place where work doesn’t actually feel like work?

63% of the people surveyed were paying off student loans, and about three quarters of them found those loans burdensome. And sadly, 43% didn’t believe that their college degree was worth what it cost (preach it, survey-takers.)

We’re the first generation with “useless degrees.” Since it’s just expected that we’ll go to college after high school, more people than ever have a college education than ever before. A bachelor’s doesn’t make us special anymore. It doesn’t make us stand out and it doesn’t make us particularly qualified to do much of anything. So if a potential employer finds you qualified, they’re willing to pay you a livable wage and you’re working toward your ultimate career goal, you might not want to pass that opportunity up just because the schedule they offer isn’t flexible enough to seamlessly integrate with your social life.

We’re undoubtedly a progressive generation. The job world will be a lot different in ten or fifteen years when we’re calling most of the shots. But we’re not calling all of the shots yet, so maybe we need to sit down, be a little less cocky, and pay our dues in the working world before we establish a laundry list of expectations for our jobs.

Check out the original post at Challenge Detroit‘s blog.

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