My fellow millennials, no one in the world of business knows what to do with us.
When a millennial enters an office, how does one respond?
Do they say hello, but, like, Snap it? Do they need to fold our cubicle walls into a makeshift ping-pong table? Should they have prepared a welcome basket of kale and burritos, a cleverly worded card assuring us they’re on the house?
The confusion over just how to welcome our generation into the workplace has inspired a market for consultants and a slew of blog posts on the topic.
One consultant, 52-year old Lisa McLeod, even charges $25,000 for a keynote address sharing her expertise on our confounding generation. If she brings along her bonafide millennial daughter, 23-year-old Elizabeth, they command a cool $30,000.
What are these people saying about how to manage us?
I scoured the internet for tips from those who claim to know our generation best. Here’s what they want our bosses to know:
1. We like to work in groups… but also by ourselves.
“Millennials have a reputation for ‘crowdsourcing,’ and they often do tend to want to work in groups,” advises Chad Holverson at When I Work. “But don’t let that make you think that they are unable to make decisions on their own.”
In fact, “millennials are at their creative best when relaxed and left alone to experiment,” suggests Tom Kaneshige at CIO.
OK, good. Glad to clear that up.
2. We know how to use technology, but we don’t always want to.
Basically, when it comes to tech, we’re smart and old people are dumb, so listen to us. We know the app that will do the thing better and faster and cheaper… oh no, there goes my job.
Of course, “millennials crave in-person collaboration and abhor the faceless vacuum that technology has brought,” says Holverson.
That’s true. As most of our friends are just robots and memes, the workplace is a good opportunity for face time and human touch.
3. Near-constant praise our whole lives makes us crave feedback at work.
“Today’s young worker requires a kind of care that flies in the face of generations past,” explains Kaneshige.
But we’re not looking for never-ending praise, per se.
Rather we “want to ‘keep score’ on how [we’re] doing in all aspects of [our] career,” according to Business Insider. “[We] never want to have a surprise,” startup CEO Jeff Lawson told BI.
Surprises are scary, after all.
4. If you convince us we’re making a difference, you can pay us less.
“Looking to hire millennials? Well, offering a bigger paycheck may not be the best way to go,” CNBC reports in a convenient interpretation of data.
“Millennials are motivated by a sense of progress, the opportunity to be creative and a sense that what they are doing matters,” writes Holverson.
We don’t get into jobs just for the money, like those greedy baby boomers might have done.
“Millennials want to own a project, run with it and make a real, measurable difference,” explains HR professional Emily Disston on The Muse.
What do we need money for, anyway? Baby boomers are still paying our rent.
5. If you’ll say, “Jump,” we’ll ask, “But, why?”
“Pivotal events like Woodstock and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Vietnam War, Civil Rights Movement, Sexual Revolution and the Cold War had profound effects on millennials’ parents and fostered inquisitive children who were often asked for their opinion,” says Disston.
Also, have you seen how boring offices are? We need to entertain ourselves somehow.
6. WE NEED A PING PONG TABLE. Er, no, money. We need money.
No, but seriously, please pay us.
“All my friends have been wowed by foosball tables and all these benefits,” Elizabeth McLeod, the $5,000 millennial, told the Wall Street Journal, “but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty and everyone hates their job, no one cares about foosball tables.”
You know what? On second thought, never mind. Don’t manage us at all. We prefer to be led.
Your Turn: Are you a millennial? What do you really look for in a workplace?
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).