Millennials In The Workplace, Going Beyond The Stats

millennials in the workplace

Millennials are always a prime topic of conversation, aren’t they. Newspapers love to bash them, consulting firms to produce studies on them. While the press blames us for all the bad things in the world – we are killing the diamond industry after all – studies show statistics that you would have never expected. You and I should know, as millennials.

For example…

A study from Free Office Finder shows that what matters most to millennials when it comes to work is 1. a good office environment, 2. salary and 3. location. Then comes work flexibility. Benefits come last in 5th position.

And that generations before us and the one just after us, Gen Z, put salary first no matter what. So, I am no Gen Z, but I’d do the same nonetheless. What do you think? Is the study right? It is representative of your personal experience and your choices as a millennial?

Seen through the lenses of my own twenty-something millennial experience in a big city, I can say it is not. Let take the stats and go beyond the numbers.

After I left university, I was idealistic. I’d get it all: the salary, the benefits, the amazing work environment. Back then, I was indeed caring more about feeling good at work than making enough money to do more than just surviving. As a matter of fact, I got a job where I was promised the most amazing work environment, with many perks (i.e. 40% off their product, free gym, Friday socials, etc) but with a salary that was below London minimum wage.

Turns out what is an amazing work environment for some, is a terrible for others. Case in point. This experience was horrible. I learnt a lot, but still had a very bad time. To be very honest, I was ashamed of saying how little I was making. I had been through six months of making barely any money while not liking my office, the company culture, being unable to connect with my colleagues and experiencing some basic discrimination along the way.

My salary was so low that I had not been able to save much money. And I’d tried very hard. Because I was very good at grocery shopping, making lunch at home, etc. Still. When I changed job and moved to London, I did not have enough money to pay a deposit and first month of rent. Life was about surviving. And it is not fun. Millennials, Gen x, Gen Z and Baby Boomers will all agree.

But I had still done it. For the sake of a good office environment.

I have learnt my lesson though. Free coconut water does not pay rent, colleagues are not all nice, and I’d much rather pass on fun work environment if I get more money. Safer bet, less risky, more secure for your future.

I do agree that location matters. I would not have moved to Exeter, Hull or Aberdeen. In London, I would not have said yes to a job in zone 5 or 6. It would not be my prime concern but still important to me.

Now let’s talk about benefits. Because it seems that it is the least of millennials’ concerns and frankly, I find it baffling.

Usually a good office environment goes beyond having work flexibility, nice colleagues, a nice building to work in, amazing devices and a cool boss. They are also perks. Free coconut water – yes, I am still not over this one! -, free pizza on Friday, a ping-pong table, 40% off the products your company sell, you name it.

Does all those things pay the bills though?

Just so you know, coconut water is gross.

But seriously.

Can you pay your hospital bill with a 40% off discount? With coconut water? Of course not. Duh! But that’s what might happen to you if you don’t have insurance. Or not a good one. Maybe I have a very strong opinion about this one because I just moved to the US where we all know the system is very unfair and unaffordable.

I guess the NHS is free (for now) so healthcare would not be such a worry for UK grads. However, in the US, healthcare is expensive. And so is insurance. Because a lot of companies will provide with a great office environment and good perks, but a low salary and bad insurance or no insurance at all. How do you afford insurance if your salary is low?

Because you can absolutely not, not be insured. An ambulance ride costs $2000. How much if you break your leg? Not sure, but you’re surely indebted for life after that. That’s where the insurance would have come handy, no? And what if you give birth and your company does not pay for maternity leave? Back to work two days after giving birth. Great.

I know these examples are extreme and might not be applicable everywhere in the world. But insurance goes beyond hospital bills and healthcare. It can be any other thing house-related, car-related, travel-related, etc. When everything works, it is all good and fun. But when something bad happens, it never comes alone and that’s when you need money and a good insurance. And as far as I am concerned, I’ll happily give up on the “fun work perks” if it gives me a good insurance that will also ease my mind and not have me worry about anything that could happen.

As a young graduate, I would have agreed with those studies and say that yes, a good office environment would be on top of my list over salary probably. But now that I have experienced a bit of life, had my share of troubles and had to pay unexpectedly for things that literally destroyed my budget, I can say that I’d much rather have a higher salary. Peace of mind over coconut water, sorry.

And I am curious to know the age range of the millennials interviewed for this study. I feel like millennials after 2 or 3 years of post-university work experience would have different answers. At least, that was my personal experience. What about yours?

millennials in the workplace

What do you think? Would you rather have a nicer office environment than higher salary and good benefits? Have you been in the situation where you had to choose between both? What did you do? Why?

Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.

See you soon,

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