I was having dinner with a few friends just the other night when suddenly the question came up: “What's it like working there?" One of my friends had recently taken on a new management role at a mid-sized technology company, and was excited to share her new found good fortune. She seemed genuinely happy and said that: “For the first time in years I feel reinvigorated and actually look forward to going to work!" Her answer surprised me, partly because she's always been known as a workhorse.
I'd never known her to be anything short of pumped for all things work-related, and at times I even wondered if she was a workaholic. After all this is a woman who would answer her mobile phone while at family and sporting events for work-related issues, never disconnected from her job. Maybe it's because work ethic is deeply ingrained in the American way of life. It's a core part of our culture. But she seemed energized while talking about the company culture at her new company.
Food for thought
Culture starts with leadership. Culture and values provide the foundation upon which everything else is built. Either way company culture determines whether or not people want to work for one company versus another, and is also what drives good employees away. The 2016 Deloitte Millennials Survey revealed that those staying at their companies for a minimum of five years are more likely to report a favorable culture than others.
Also included in the study is--if given a choice--one in four millennials would quit his or her current employer to join a new organization or to start something different. That figure climbs to 44 percent when the time frame is expanded to two years.
By the end of 2020, two of every three respondents hope to have moved on, leaving only 16 percent of millennials who still see themselves with their current employers after 10 years.
Company culture matters to millennials
Millennials, numbering over 66 million, make up 32 percent of the labor force (compared to 31.2 percent for Generation X workers, and 30.6 percent for Boomers). They now own the largest share of the U.S. labor market.
The leaders of tomorrow have become the leaders of today.
They are highly educated, display greater diversity than older generations: 44.2 percent are classified as being in a minority group (belonging to a group other than non-Hispanic white).
Many millennials entered the workforce with high student loan debt, poor employment prospects (due to the Great Recession), and it becomes increasingly clear that a sizable portion of the Millennial generation started out with considerable disadvantages. It should come as no surprise that millennials have little choice but to wait longer before purchasing cars and getting approved for mortgages.
Because of this many millennials endure deferred dreams and perhaps expect to be treated well, not necessarily in a strictly monetary sense, but rather show appreciation in other ways:
-Start Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAPs), for student loans.
-Offer parking subsidy cash-out benefits for employees who carpool or take public transportation to work.
-Offer housing assistance programs (commonly offered to top executives), which might work towards attracting and retaining good employees at all levels.
Implementing workplace policies that benefit workers and help to boost employee retention is good business sense because it can lead to significant cost savings to employers. Across jobs, the cost of replacing an employee is clustered between 10 percent and 30 percent of an employee's salary. One notable exception would be losing executives and physicians-jobs that require very specific skills and training-tend to have disproportionately high turnover costs as a percentage of salary (up to 213 percent).
The realization that much of the conventional wisdom about millennials is based on misconceptions can allow companies to tailor their human capital strategies to the new realities of the workforce.
A focus on experience
Nina McQueen, Vice President, Global Benefits: Redefining the Employee Experience, at LinkedIn, is convinced that LinkedIn has the recipe for company culture. She details her experience of how incredible the culture was, when she joined LinkedIn back in September 2013, and how relevant company culture is personally and for the company's bottom line in her article, titled: “Culture Champions, creating transformative experiences." McQueen writes that: “There is no secret recipe. Culture is about your leadership, the products you develop and your company values. It is unique to each company."
She goes on to say that if you're at a dinner party and the person seated next to you asks-what is it like to work at your company?-what you say in that moment defines the culture of your company. It's unscripted, not something written on a powerpoint, not a slogan on the wall. But it is what you are experiencing as an employee.
Much like McQueen, my friend has impressed upon me her newfound happiness with her new employer...Do you feel the same about your employer?
"There are no good men out there," yet another woman my age declared. At 50, I was freshly divorced after two decades of marriage and motherhood. My unhappy marriage had shattered my faith in men and romantic relationships. Based on my ex-husband's opinion of my sexual appeal, I was afraid my naked body would cause future lovers to run screaming from the room. Rather gleefully, I announced to my girlfriends that I was done with men, and sex, forever.
For the first year, I got tangled in my sheets alone every night, overjoyed to have the bed and my body to myself. I felt liberated by divorce—free to be me, skip showering, and make dinner for one. But it bothered me when women decried the scarcity of men, because I'd known so many good ones—college boyfriends, my brother, my best friend from business school, etc. The first of many naked truths gradually crept up on me: I was not going to find my juju again through self-help and yoga. The feminist in me didn't want to admit it, but going for too long without men was akin to starvation.
I didn't want another husband. But I needed men, a lot of them.
The universe signaled its approval by sending Mr. Blue Eyes to me at an airport. He was 29 and perhaps the sexiest man I'd ever kissed. Being with him convinced me, pretty decisively, that men were going to heal me, even though men had destroyed me many times before. I became the female incarnation of a divorced, clichéd older man: I bought a sports car, revamped my wardrobe, and took younger lovers. "I want five boyfriends," I told my best friend KC after that first tryst ended. "Sweet, cute, smart, nice. Enough that I won't get too attached to one." My message from the frontlines of divorce at 50 is that to restore your confidence as a woman, especially in the wake of a crushing breakup, try dating outside your comfort zone, expanding your dating pool to include partners you might never have considered before. It may not be the recipe for a lasting union, but in terms of rebuilding your self-esteem, it can work wonders.
The first thing I noticed—and liked—about dating younger men is that they didn't want to marry me or make babies with me. And I didn't want that either. Frankly, I didn't even want them to spend the night. Since I'd been 11, I'd been taught to seek out and value men who wanted commitment. To my surprise, I found it refreshing, even more authentic, to be valued not for my potential as a mate, but instead for my body, intelligence, life-experience and sexuality.
And the sex! I quickly realized that—warning, blanket stereotype coming—men under 40 are more straightforward and adventurous than older men, maybe since they were raised with the Internet. You hear so often about the scourge of crude, sexist online pornography; and I agree that the depersonalization of women as sexual playthings is deeply destructive to all genders. However, from sexting to foreplay, I found younger men uniquely enthusiastic about getting naked and enjoying sex. Every younger man found my most erotic zones faster than any man my age ever had, with a lack of hesitation men over 50 seemed unable to fathom.
Also, about my big fear of getting naked in front of a younger man? Completely unfounded. I started to shake when Airport Boy took off my sundress in our hotel room. Had he ever seen a woman my age nude? How could I stand to be skin-to-skin with a body far more perfect than mine? I had given birth to eight-pound, full-fucking-term babies. I'd nursed them, too, and at times by breasts looked (from my view at least) like wet paper towels. "You have a spectacular body," he told me instead, running his hand over the cellulite on my stomach that I despised. That night I learned that younger men who seek older women accept our physical flaws—they don't expect perfection in someone 20 years their senior. These men taught me to see my body through a positive, decidedly male lens, to focus on the pretty parts (and we all have them) rather than the flaws that we all have too, whether you're 19, 29 or 59.
I even found the pillow talk lighter, easier and more intellectually stimulating, because a younger man's world view differs so vastly from the pressures of my 20-something kids, annual colonoscopies, 401K balance and mortgage payments. They have simple financial problems, like "Can I borrow a few quarters for the parking meter outside?" or "Do you have any advice on consolidating my student loans?"
Everything feels simpler with younger men. Men under 40 seem less threatened by assertive women; they grew up with them. They like cheap beer instead of expensive wine. They don't snore (as much). Leftovers a 55-year-old would scoff at look good to them. Their erections NEVER last more than four hours. Their hard-ons end the old-fashioned way and 45 minutes later they are ready for more.
But what I enjoy most about younger men is not the sex, or the cliché that they make me feel young again—because they don't. Younger men make me feel old, and to my delight, I like that. I feel valuable around younger men, precisely because I am wiser and more experienced in life, love and between the sheets.
I know I'll never end up with one for good. The naked truth is we don't have enough in common to last. One recently put it exactly right when he told me, "I love this, but there's always gonna be a glass ceiling between us." That lack of permanence, the improbability of commitment and "forever," doesn't mean I can't pick up a tip or two about self-esteem, and enjoy the magic of human connection with younger men. And vice versa. The experience can enrich us both, making us better partners for people our own ages down the road.
*My viewpoint is from the perspective of a heterosexual woman, because I am one. But change the gender identification and/or sexual orientation to whatever works for you and let me know if the same advice holds true. Thank you.