Contrary to popular perception, the chairs at SpareFoot aren’t filled solely with members of what’s known as the Millennial generation or Generation Y. True, our two co-founders–Chuck Gordon and Mario Feghali–are Millennials and our office crackles with a youthful vibe, but we’ve got a number of folks who hail from other generations, including yours truly.
Nonetheless, as with many startups, we’ve got our fair share of Millennials. And coming from a non-Millennial, let me tell you how much of a blast it is to work with these Gen Y go-getters. The energy is infectious. It’s hard for me to imagine my foosball-playing, shot-slamming, hard-charging Millennial colleagues at SpareFoot putting in a day’s work in a non-startup environment.
For Millennials, a job at a startup “is now much sexier than a suited position on Wall Street,” said Charley Polachi, executive recruiter and managing partner at Polachi Access Executive Search in Framingham, MA.
Following in the footsteps of startup sensations like Mark Zuckerberg, Millennials view sky-high success as a goal that’s very much within reach, according to Polachi.
Regardless of age and rank, earnest labor should earn respect.
–Willa Glesener, SpareFoot Office Team
“We’re talking about job seekers who have seen some of the worst employment opportunities in the past 100 years taking their chances with goals of stock options and private equity, making a visual difference, and wearing jeans and a T-shirt to work,” Polachi said.
For a non-Millennial like Polachi, who’s racked up more than 30 years of experience recruiting talent for startups and other employers, it’s easy to offer a 30,000-foot view of Millennials. But what do Millennials have to say for themselves? What’s their take on their place in the workplace?
To get a handle on the terrain for Gen Y workers, I posed this question to Millennials at SpareFoot: “What matters most to you in the workplace and in your career?” Here are some of their thoughtful, insightful responses.
Jahn Veach | Development Team
“Meritocracy—that’s all that matters. The only metric that you can use to meaningfully measure an employee is ‘Is this person worth the money I’m paying them?’ It’s not a relationship, it’s not a game—it’s a job.”
“It has nothing to do with the hours you’re physically in the office, how you dress, how you play politics. All that matters is that when you’re paying someone X, they produce X amount of work for the company. If they’re doing more than X amount of work, you pay them more, and if they’re doing less, you pay them less or can them and get someone who can get the job done.”
“Everything else is irrelevant. The only meaningful work environment is one where those who are most valued are those who produce the most value.”
Katie Luna | Amazing Customer Experience (ACE) Team
“As a member of Generation Y, I appreciate a strong work ethic within the workplace. I don’t feel the need to have constant praise in order to feel accomplished, but I do appreciate working in a team that is constantly raising the bar for success.”
Matt Schexnayder | Marketing Team
“What matters most to me is enjoying where I work and what I do. I couldn’t imagine having to go into an office every day that I hated or spending my time doing something that I am not passionate about. That’s definitely not the case right now. I love my job and I love SpareFoot, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Tevis Paxton | Lead Development Team
“I’ve thought about this a lot since I started at SpareFoot after leaving my old job. The old job wasn’t terrible by any means, but it wasn’t a good ‘fit’ for me—or at least not as good of a fit as I feel at SpareFoot.”
“I’d say that what matters to me most—at least right now in my life—is that I enjoy (or at least not dislike) the people I’m surrounded by and the goals we aim to accomplish. I like to feel respected, but not treated overly seriously.”
“This is something I expect and seek out in co-workers of all generations, not just other Millennials (or whatever we’re called these days). In just the same way I hope that older generations don’t think of me as some smart-ass ‘Me Generation’ kid, I try not to think of other generations in their respective stereotypes.”
Jenny Zhang | Marketing Team
“I think it’s vital to work in an environment that encourages constant learning and allows you to experience different things. These are the same environments that foster growth, which, for many of my entry-level Gen Y peers, is the best thing you could ask for! That’s why working at startups is such a wonderful opportunity—you’re getting invaluable knowledge and experience in a unique, non-corporate environment. That’s hard to come by.”
“I also place a lot of importance on who I work with. Maybe I’ve been too spoiled at SpareFoot, but I want to be surrounded by brilliant, passionate people who are also genuinely great people outside of the office. Work becomes so much more rewarding—and, dare I say, fun—when you can share it with people you’re psyched to be around.”
Michi Hu | Account Management Team
“Making a difference for the company and having a flexible schedule.”
Rachel Greenfield | Marketing Team
“What matters to me is learning as much as possible and gaining diverse experience. I want to grow quickly so I can contribute more.”
Barry Finder | Client Relations Team
What matters most to Barry boils down to three items:
- A flat organizational structure that lacks political B.S.
- The freedom to participate in areas of the organization where he can be helpful—without red tape.
- Being asked to do more, not less, as an indication of his value to the company.
Willa Glesener | Office Team
“Regardless of age and rank, earnest labor should earn respect. We all work so hard here, and it’s important to remember we are in it together, and to help each other out as much as possible. ‘My job is more important’ is the wrong way to look at things at any workplace, and especially at SpareFoot. When we respect each other, we are sending the message that we value each other, and feeling valued is another huge key to workplace happiness—for me, at least.”
“Honest and direct communication is also imperative. Because we are not all of the same generation, we need to establish baselines for communication. Everyone has different styles or needs, and it’s important to recognize those differences and act accordingly.”
Jeanette DeHay | Marketing Team
“For me, it’s very important that I enjoy going to work every day. That means having an open and fun workplace where I feel comfortable being myself so that I’m able to focus 100 percent on excelling at my job. If I had to worry about making sure I was in proper business-casual attire every day or about following strict office etiquette guidelines, I don’t think I would be able to devote as much time into doing what’s expected of me.”
Skylar Talley | Product Team
“I would say that the three things that are most important to me in my career are responsibility, breadth of experience and growth potential. I chose to work at a startup over a consulting firm and a private equity firm because I felt like it was the best way to get the most amount of responsibility and, therefore, have the biggest impact in the least amount of time. I also knew that I wanted to be exposed to as many parts of the business as possible because I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself this early in my career.”
“Finally, I knew I wanted to work in a place with a lot of potential for future growth because I felt like if I could play a material part in that growth, that I set myself up to take on traditionally more senior roles at a younger age. I would be lying if I said that compensation wasn’t important as well, but to me it takes a slight back seat to these three things.”