My name is Ashley and I am a millennial…
Despite the assumptions, I am not lazy, I am not a hippy-dippy hipster and I do have ambitions. I just have different values than the people before me. I don’t believe that you need to work your entire life to make it big. I have grown up in a generation where a kid named Mark Zuckerberg was a billionaire by 31 (aka Facebook) and Elizabeth Homes was a billionaire by 19 (founded the blood-test company Theranos), and then there were three 30ish year-olds behind Airbnb; founders Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia – all billionaires.
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So stop telling me that my pay cheque is my reward.
Let me assure you…this mentality doesn’t work with me and many others like me. Luring us with bonuses and more money, while increasing hours and shifting our work-life balance out of whack, that’s a grand recipe for disengagement and sick days. In the words of Brian Fantana (Anchorman), “they’ve done studies, you know. 60 percent of the time, it works every time.”
What we don’t want is to sell our time and always feel like we are in detention. What we do want is a deeper sense of purpose and a connection to something bigger than ourselves. I want to leave this earth knowing I made a difference…maybe that does make me a hippy-dippy but I’m somewhat okay with that.
The Eight Hour Myth
Does it really take eight hours to get through a full day of work? The eight-hour day movement or 40-hour week movement was started by James Deb and was created during the Industrial Revolution when child labor was common and so were 10-16 hour days. There was a slogan created by Robert Owen to decrease the working day: “Eight hours’ labor, Eight hours’ recreation, Eight hours’ rest”. Obviously, there was a need for change in society. But does that mean 8 hours is right? It was simply better than 10 but how do we know it is the magic recipe for success?
And what about companies now going after 10 hour days plus weekends? What happens to those individuals? 12 hours labor/commute, 4 hours gym/Netflix/laundry and 8 hours rest?
The Four Hour Workweek
Timothy Ferriss wrote a revolutionary book,“The 4 Hour Workweek” where he challenges the standard of the 40-hour workweek. He argues that the point is to get the job done in the least amount of time with the best quality of work. Why are we so afraid to let go of those old standards and give people some autonomy? Is it really better that we burn away time on Facebook and social media until the 12 hour day is up? It is if you like to take dollar bills and light them on fire.
Just because it’s the way we have done it doesn’t mean it is best for us. Sweden gets it – they are experimenting with a shorter work day – 6 hours because they are obsessed with work-life balance. Wouldn’t I be a better contribution to society if I was inspired, energized and explored my passions? What millennials really want is a work-life balance which can mean many things. To us, work-life balance is where our work satisfies our intrinsic appetite – where it energizes us and lifts us so we have the energy to bring home into all of the things we love to do. We work to live not the other way around.
It’s not me that will have to adapt – there are many more who are just like me and we are starting to infiltrate the workforce. We are great are costing you money – we know how to work the systems and disengagement and turnover are the greatest cost to any business, so only those that pay attention will survive. So get out your old school notepads and prepare to get updated on the new school of thought. Google is absolutely on the cutting edge of setting the standard. They get that the workplace has changed and they are adapting.
Smashing The Status Quo: Google
Let’s start with their philosophy: “to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world,” according to a Google spokesman, Jordan Newman. Beat that. First of all, they HAVE a philosophy around work. Secondly, I WANT to work there because of it.
The Work Grounds
It contains a labyrinth of dog friendly play areas; Lego play stations, cafes, coffee bars and open kitchens; sunny outdoor terraces with chaises; gourmet cafeterias that serve free organic food; Broadway-theme conference rooms with velvet drapes; and conversation areas designed to look like vintage subway cars. While you are at work, you can get your hair cut or oil changed which translates to you not needing time to take off work and it is all part of your compensation package. I would never want to leave because work has become PLAY. Well-played Google, well-played.
Google’s success depends on their innovation and collaboration. Everything they designed was geared toward making it easy to talk, from removing psychological barriers for interacting, to adding scooters to make it easy to get around the floors and large gathering spaces and tiny nooks. Mr. Nevill-Manning says that engineers “are incredibly productive on a square foot basis,” and “their value is enormous. It doesn’t cost that much to make them happy.” My brother is an engineer and ain’t that the truth.
One Googler says “you don’t have to show you’re working, or act like you’re working. The culture here is to shut down on weekends. People have a life.” They also have massage rooms on every floor, free eyebrow shaping, free yoga and pilates classes, courses in stress management and advanced negotiation and even had a live interview of Justin Bieber and Jimmy Fallon. Culture is the way people think things “get done” and Google takes care of their people which translates to them taking care of whatever needs to get done to have tremendous success.
Can you imagine if you got to work on whatever you wanted every Friday? How would that change your engagement? The only rule is that you need to be at the office. This is called “Innovation Time Off” where employees are given 20% of their time with nothing specific to focus on – they can be creative, mystical and free and work on whatever they deem important in the world. The results have been Gmail, Google News, AdSense and these account for 50% of the company’s new products. 80% of your profits come from 20% of your efforts. The proof is in the pudding.
The workplace isn’t what it once was and if you continue to operate with the values of how it used to be, you are going to get left in the dust by companies that challenge the status quo and are able to attract the best talent. Work-life balance may be different for everyone but people that feel good about themselves produce the best results and isn’t that ultimately what all businesses are striving for? The message here is take care of your people because as Bob Dylan once said, “times are a changin’ ”.