For those born between 1982 and 2004* – congratulations! You make up part of the millennial generation that the world sees as powerful industry killing monsters with a sense of entitlement rivaling that of any prior generation.
* Give or take a few years – it varies depending on the source and there remains a lack of universal agreement over the exact age range.
The term was coined in 1987, during a time when George Michael's, "Faith" ruled the airwaves, Prozac was the new FDA-approved wonder drug, and a society was growing increasingly obsessed over the looming, millennium (preschoolers in 1987 would the graduating high school class of 2000). That correlation was evidently noticed, and the "millennial" was born, the term credited to William Strauss and Neil Howe, who wrote about this curious cohort in their 1991 book, "Generations - The History of America's Future," and their 2000 work, "Millennials Rising: The Next Generation." The pair of demographers believed that millennials would reject their boomer forebears' individualism and libertinism, becoming the "next Greatest Generation."
Via Lindsey Pollak
Strauss and Howe anticipated that this generation would radically reshape American life, based on their theory of repeating generational archetypes directly correlated with historical events of the time. They saw this sheltered generation resulting from the "most sweeping youth-safety movement in American history" and recognized them are a generation that consider themselves special, both as individuals and as a group, deeming them as confident, team-oriented, high-achieving, and pressured to succeed. They pretty much nailed it.
However, they didn't foresee how this innate confidence - while largely a positive trait for any other generation - would spill over into the realms of perceived entitlement and narcissism. These days, millennials are called many things, and Greatest Generation is not quite one of them. Psychologist Jean Twenge described millennials as "Generation Me" in her 2006 book and in 2013, Time magazine ran a cover story titled, "Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation." There's also "Generation 9/11" an apocalyptic name that aligns with Strauss and Howe's ideas explored in the 1997 book, "The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy."
Strauss and Howe's optimistically thought that the confident, high-achievers would yield the creation of institutions that would transform society. Instead millennials proved interested in forcing the old ones to live up to their high-minded rhetoric in a time where their future is still uncertain, reeling from unexpected economic upheaval.
Millennials are now viewed as a force of narcissistic nature, demanding treatment no one before them ever received, and drastically reshaping everything in their path, from college campuses to the housing market. According to all the media everywhere, millennials are responsible for killing pretty much everything and retain the all the power to lead to an Ayn Rand vision of a dystopia with entire industries being demolished. Millennials even get credit for brutally murdering the mayonnaise industry!
Millennials do wield a certain power, the same power that every generation to emerge has - the sheer number of millennials is intimidating and combined with the native digital language that naturally formed with exposure to emerging technology absolutely terrifies industries across the country. These older businesses view millennials as a threat while the generation sees themselves as powerless, pummeled by the world left for them by their elders.
Millennials have been surrounded by technology their whole lives, the effects only heightened by their helicopter parents (new term that emerged for overprotective baby boomer parents of millennials who are excessively involved in their children's lives), enabling constant contact. These "helicopter parents" have a tendency towards coddling and micromanaging, stemming from an inherent need to keep their children save from stranger danger (and anything else that could hurt them) and likely overcompensating for feeling neglected and unloved by their own lack of present parents. As such, millennials were raised to believe that they are special snowflakes, with the mantra "follow your dreams" instilled in them since childhood with their parents shielding them from anything that could potentially hurt their self-esteem, eliminating the very developmental phenomenon known as failure (the new apparent achievement of merely participating means that everyone gets a trophy and there are no losers).
With baby boomer parents preparing their children for the expected hyper-competitive 21st-century labor market, millennials were led to believe in meritocracy and forced into competition for their spots within it — only to find themselves paralyzed by a disintegrating job market, a catastrophic debt load and a financial crisis that struck just as large numbers were entering the workforce.
In a case of straight up bad timing, millennials collided with a time of economic trauma, creating an already disillusioned generation who entered into adulthood with unrealistic expectations, unprepared for a recession marked by structural shifts in the economy with detrimental impacts. Millennials have been defined by this era of economic trauma; stagnant wages, a skyrocketing cost of housing, colossal student debt have put millennials on the path to a lower quality of life than their parents (this is the first generation since the Silent Generation that is expected to be less economically successful than their parents).
Taking everything into consideration, it could be argued that millennials are unfairly blamed for things out of their control, victims of circumstance to a certain extent. Yes, millennials do have some unsavory traits bred from the environment around them, but perhaps society can give them just a bit a slack?
Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.
What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.
The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.
There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!
Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.
Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”
While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.
That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying
the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.
This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.
Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.
That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?
Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”
While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."
In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.
We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.
As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.
What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.
The rising trend of pet-friendly offices is part of the effort to incentivize employees to come back to work in person. Many companies completely embraced the remote-friendly convenience of WFH. Digital nomad culture emerged and “second cities” arose when people exited New York, San Francisco, and LA, and headed to Denver, Austin, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh.
But now, employees and employers have a choice to make. The question now is: to return or not to return to the office? This is no longer about forcing employees to commute. Post The Great Resignation, employees feel more empowered to leave in-person positions and seek out remote jobs. So if offices want people to return, they’ve got to do a ton to entice their employees.
Some huge companies with giant operating budgets are not worried. With major perks like shiny facilities and full-service food bars, they feel comfortable requiring in-office work days — even if it’s for a hybrid week. But the solution might be simpler: pet-friendly workplaces.
The Allure of Pet-Friendly Offices
According to the Washington Post, pet-friendly workplaces are becoming a common solution to improve employee morale and appease the rising number of pandemic pet owners. “As offices start reopening and thousands of workers are being called back for the first time in two years, some companies are allowing employees to bring their pets. About 23 million American households adopted a pet during the pandemic, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Many workers say they find pet-friendly environments an important perk for their new furry family members. A recent survey conducted by Banfield Pet Hospital, owned by Mars Inc., showed that 57 percent of the 1,500 pet owners polled said they would be happiest returning to a pet-friendly workplace. Half of the 500 top executives surveyed said they are planning to allow pets at the office. Tech companies including Google, Amazon, and Uber plan to continue to allow dogs at their offices, even with their flexible office policies.”
With so many people adopting and fostering since the pandemic, becoming a pet parent is a trend. And to welcome these new additions into people’s lives, it makes sense for some workplaces to welcome them into the office.
After spending unlimited amounts of time at home, many pets grew greatly attached to their “parents” — and pet-parents feel the same about their pets. Rather than keeping them locked in the house while their caretakers head off to work, this is a mutually beneficial solution to the current separation anxiety faced by pets.
Pets have also been shown to boost happiness in pet owners. According to heart.org, “Studies show that dogs reduce stress, anxiety, and depression; ease loneliness; encourage exercise and improve your overall health. For example, people with dogs tend to have lower blood pressure and are less likely to develop heart disease. Just playing with a dog has been shown to raise levels of the feel-good brain chemicals oxytocin and dopamine, creating positive feelings and bonding for both the person and their pet.” Most likely, this might have a similar effect on people who bond with animals at work that don’t even belong to them, lending an overall mood boost to the office.
The controversy behind pet-friendly workplaces
However, not everyone is as enthusiastic about the prospect. Some would rather keep the office separate from their personal lives. Some are allergic to pets. And some people simply don’t like animals.
Offices considering pet-friendly policies are weighing the pros and cons to keep everyone happy. According to the Washington Post, clear guidelines and communication can increase the chances of success.
“Before making the jump, pet experts say that leaders should first understand whether their employees have interest in, or strong feelings against, having a pet-friendly office. Doing an anonymous survey may allow employees to freely share thoughts on the matter.”
Overall, the key to a policy like this is flexibility. “Be ready to adjust: Above all, pet-friendly offices should be ready to listen and adjust their policies as they go. What works for one office may not work for another, but experts say proper planning can lessen much of the burden.”
Ensure your office is actually suited to the pets you want to welcome. “A well-developed pet-friendly office should be both safe and welcoming to pets. That means companies should consider blocking off areas that could be dangerous to pets as well as making sure pets have access to clean water, food, and places to rest.”
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