Irish millennials shun ‘chocolate factory’ effect
Young people are more interested in developing their careers than working in novelty officesPrint
27 July 2017 | 0
As a journalist you get a bit frustrated visiting the offices of glamorous multinationals. Where the average hack is used to muted open plan spaces and home offices barely worthy of the name, the Facebooks, Googles and the Slacks are like playgrounds with free snacks, pool tables, games rooms and even gyms. Everyone seems in good shape, passionate about their employer’s mission, and generally delighted with themselves.
Being around such shiny happy people has its down sides. I had an experience where critiquing a new piece of (quickly discontinued) hardware was taken as some sort of personal insult. I didn’t see a need for something – and it turned out no one else did – and it was me that was somehow at fault. How dare I question ‘the thinking’ at one of the finest places to work in the land.
Well, it looks like the medication is wearing off and skilled tech workers are looking beyond the ‘chocolate factories’ and are getting back to the basics of doing a fair day’s work for a fair wage.
Whether it’s fatigue of working in offices designed to take the life out of work/life balance or the effects of a resurgent property market, Irish millennials are done with foosball tables and Star Wars memorabilia. At least that’s the message from EngageSmith.
According to a survey taken this month by the training firm, the perception that millennials are more motivated by intellectual challenges than salary and promotional prospects has had its time. Some 62% of respondents said career advancement was the most important factor in their work. Definitions of ‘advancement’ can vary but 57% of respondents put income over all other concerns. If that means a mere 5% will stick around for the intellectual challenge then MNCs and start-ups are going to have a harder time keeping and retaining staff than we thought.
Despite the efforts of employers to avoid churn, 59% of respondents said they plan to leave their current job over the next year for better paid and more challenging roles.
Are we looking at a return of ‘a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work’ over Silicon Valley’s ‘play hard, work harder’ ethic? The answer may lie in this telling statistic: Those massive offices with all the trappings were cited by only 1% of millennials as being important.
Lisa Smith, founder of EngageSmith, argues, correctly in my opinion, that the property market has refocused young minds. “With rents at such high levels, particularly in Dublin, Irish millennials don’t have the luxury of not prioritising their salary,” she says. “If companies want to attract and retain the top millennial talent they must offer competitive salaries and lots of opportunities for young people to progress their careers within the company.”
So much for the stereotype of the entitled kid whose self esteem relies on Facebook ‘likes’ and retweets – the new tech class is not so different to their parents and their parents’ parents when it comes to putting food on the table. The Greek philosopher Epicurus’ got it right when he said personal fulfilment relied on friends, freedom and an analysed life. For some reason interior design didn’t figure.