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Will Work For Less: Cash Not Necessarily King for Millennials

OCTOBER 2012 Millennial Marketing Insight from HypeLife Brands: "Will Work For Less: Cash Not Necessarily King for Millennials"

You’ve all heard it a thousand times before, that philosophical adage that’s supposed to magically make you happier: Work to live, don’t live to work. But for one reason or another, previous generations have largely ignored its sentiments, choosing instead to spend long hours toiling away at the office and, quite literally, living to work.

In the wake of a recent study, which revealed that the highest concentration (47%) of Gen Y workers are at smaller companies (fewer than 100 employees), it would seem that Generation Y has once again turned the status quo on its head, mainly by asking one simple question: Why? In fact, asking questions is at the heart of what’s allowed Gen Y to pull their feet from the quicksand that engulfed their own parents in a life of work and meetings and midnight oil.

The questions Millennials are asking are not complicated ones, but rather, queries grounded in a certain quality of life. Why can’t I finish a task from home? Why can’t I access social media at the office? Why does it matter when I show up or when I leave? Why should my quality of life be so heavily tied to money? There are others, sure. But you get the gist. While these simple rebukes to the establishment are, at first pass, rather bold in their implications, they’re also grounded in a logic and ethic that comes as a breath of fresh air.

Can we really fault a generation of young adults with the maturity and world view to not only acknowledge, but demand a proper work-life balance? Can we be upset with a group of people choosing personal and emotional health over the financial? By the end of the decade, more than half of the workforce in the US will be comprised of Gen Y. They know what they want, they know what they value, and because they’re the future of the workforce, they’re using their leverage to get it. 

So what exactly is ‘it’? For perhaps the first time ever, ‘it’ is not money. Instead, let’s look at some ways companies can lure top Gen Y talent to their doorsteps. 

But remember, don’t lead with salary.

Be adaptable. Due to unprecedented advances in technology, most employees now have the ability to work remotely. Let them, within reason. Sick kids, nice days, bad weather — a day away from the office no longer promises a loss in productivity. In fact, a random day away from the office can actually boost morale and, in turn, correlate with a boost in long-term quality of work.

Socialize. Don’t limit access to social media. In fact, encourage its use in the workplace. For Gen Y, social media isn’t some passing fad; it’s a lifestyle. Infringing upon that lifestyle is exactly why Millennials are staying away from more corporate jobs. Plus, happy employees are likely to talk about it, and who wouldn’t want those positive vibes as a future recruiting tool?

Pile it on. The days of learning curves and training are over. This is the most educated generation in history, and for much of their lives, information has only been a click away. So give them some responsibility at the outset. Set meaningful goals. Create the potential for upward mobility. Millennials want to be valued at their jobs. If they’re not, don’t expect them to stick around for long.  

Dress the part. Ditch the suits. Do away with the polos and khakis. For Millennials, casual is the name of the game. Outdated dress codes will only deter top talent from coming your way, because in their mind, being comfortable at work is just as important as having more money to spend on, well, clothes. 

At the end of the day, don't mistake a lower salary for lessened ambition, passion or talent. Generation Y is unique in many ways, but their most unique quality may be their ability to continually ask 'why not?' Here's to asking questions. 


Curt Cuscino
Principal + Lead Brand Navigator
HypeLife BrandsSaveSave