Hundreds of articles and first person accounts have been written on the work life balance (or lack there of) in the Silicon Valley culture. We are familiar with leaders being revered as gods, people missing out on their family, and companies filling the basic needs of workers as compensation for their dedication. My question is how long will Millennials buy into these corporate cults?
(Wait, you don’t think these are “corporate cults?” Let’s quickly look at the characteristics of a cult for kicks and giggles…)
- The group has a zealous and unquestioning commitment to it’s leader (Steve Jobs or Elon Musk perhaps?)
- People who question or doubt the organization are discouraged from the group or ostracized (Ever been told you weren’t a “cultural fit” for a job? You must at least be familiar with Amazon’s policy where they pay people to leave if they don’t LOVE it there.)
- Mind-altering practices are used to reinforce beliefs in exiting members and break in new members (Facebook Hack-a-Thons)
- The group has an us-vs-them outlook on society (This must be why Uber feel’s they don’t need to obey state laws and regulations even though in doing so their own customers have been hurt)
- Shame and guilt are used to influence members to participate (Because “We are a TEAM”)
- Workers are encouraged to socialize with other members (Those outside-of-work mandatory activities are looking less-fun)
- The most loyal members feel like there is no real life outside the cult (What I started out writing in this post, so let’s get back to that)
The assumption made about Millennials is that they loving being taken care of. They would choose to shirk their adult responsibilities and remain children forever and this kind of culture let’s them do just that. So what could they be unhappy about? Well, becoming disengaged with the company they work will easily snap them out of this fantasy. It could be a bad boss, a discontent spouse, or even a disagreement with a new company direction. Millennials are an opinionated bunch. The problem is that once they decide they don’t like something about work they have to make a huge change in their life to leave. Your place of employment is no longer a module in life that can easily be swapped out.
My assumption is that as the Millennials hit their mid to late thirties they will have some conflict with The Hand That Feeds Them. The question then becomes what’s next and will they be prepared for it. Will they have formed the meaningful connections with other professionals that will allow them to jump ship? Maybe they will have to learn how to pack lunches to replace a company cafeteria. It’s scary to me that people as a whole strive to let someone else take care of them so they can work more.
The advice I would give to anyone in this situation is to enjoy the social and economical benefits afforded by their job. At the same time, continue to educate yourself and connect with other communities outside of the office. Too many people get trapped in a narrow hall with no doors. You don’t want to be one of them!