The employer’s guide to millennials

As you might recall, Time, in its yearly Get Off My Lawn & Garden issue, has declared that the millennial generation is filled with a bunch of no-good, entitled narcissists who wouldn’t know a hard day’s work from a kick in the pants.

Or at least that’s what I deduce from the cover and from dispatches by other journalists and writers because, as you may have guessed, incidence of Time subscriptions among millennials is minimal. (News flash: NOT ALL OF US HAVE THE MONEY YOU THINK WE DO … and neither do our parents.)

The Time cover story is merely one of the latest in a winding line of whistle-blowing generational missives penned by magazine writers, a group often known for its humility. And that’s coming from someone who has long wanted to be a magazine writer.

Regardless, let’s operate under the assumption that self-absorption of youths in their 20s exceeds the already excessive amount mandated by the human condition. (I mean, I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I’ve touched Robin Williams’ elbow and Bob Stoops has winked at me. So TOOT.) How does one handle these creatures? Eventually, they may just luck their lazy, hapless way into the workforce. What then? As the expression goes, you can lead a horse to humility, but you can’t make it defer with reverence to older horses.

Keep them entertained

After being raised by television, video game consoles and later the Internet, in between meticulously cultivated after-school activities, millennials now have a constant thirst for stimulation. To keep them subdued you must keep them entertained. It’s the Mary Poppins approach: “For every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” We already do this ourselves, to an extent. I’m a champion in the art of Recreational Peeing. This is the one where you get up to go to the bathroom because you just have to go and do something.

There’s science behind this: gamification, using game techniques in non-game contexts. You started this. What Sesame Street didn’t teach us how to spell, Reader Rabbit did. Welcome to the bed. Now lay in it. Every day is the Olympics with millennials! Make a points system for performing menial tasks. We love a good competition. Oh, and don’t forget to creatively fulfill them, or at least give them the sense they are being creatively fulfilled. Encourage cubicle-decorating competitions. That’ll shut ’em up for a while.

Chugga chugga choo choo. All aboard the whimsy train.
Chugga chugga choo choo. All aboard the whimsy train.

Appeal to their nostalgia

We have lived but 30 years at the most, but man, those first 15 were exquisite. The mine of childhood nostalgia has been so exhausted, it’s not even good sport anymore to wax poetically on your love of Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Disney Channel Original Movies. Pretty soon, because of millennial competition, we’re plumbing the entertainment depths to remember the name of Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland and Rock-a-Doodle. In truly desperate situations, you’ll even see people try to dredge up fond memories of Timmy the damn Tooth.

How can you capitalize on this yearning to return to simpler times? A happy millennial is a productive millennial. That’s why we’re going to need to start having Scholastic Book Fairs in the workplace. Maybe you have a non-Scholastic book fair, filled with adult books, or maybe you do the right thing and have Scholastic unload Captain UnderpantsI Spy and CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG ERASERS in your conference room.


I mean, my God, look at it. I’m getting all tingly. photo

Responsibility’s OK, we guess

Remember, most of all, these lazy, entitled millennials crave to be considered responsible adults, without any of the trappings of being a responsible adult. To keep your millennial happy, make sure you give it special projects to run. They don’t actually have to be important, but something with a lot of moving parts will really give the millennial something to lord over its friends at happy hour at the bar with the skeeball machine and giant Connect 4 board.

We demand to be taken seriously.
We demand to be taken seriously.

And, of course, all the basics still apply. Keep your millennial watered, fed and exercised. They really like to ride bikes to work and eat things with chickpeas. Best of luck on managing your still-many-years-to-live narcissist!


1 thought on “The employer’s guide to millennials”

  1. As a Baby Boomer, I must point out that my generation practically invented self-absorption: more than a few of us are trapped within our own navels.

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