Aliens, Internet Outages & Gen-Y

by Deb Andrychuk

26 July, 2010

Monday morning I leaped out of bed with renewed energy and enthusiasm for work after 8 luxurious hours of sleep. Cranking out client and vendor calls all morning, I suddenly realized in horror that my email had 5 messages suspended in the Outbox. In checking my wireless connection, I made the grim discovery that all home office workers fear: I had no Internet connection. Momentarily paralyzed from web deprivation and the realization that I couldn’t check what was on sale at Ideeli, I tried to prioritize my unfinished tasks. My mind was racing -Should I call and cancel all of my afternoon conference calls? Should I wait it out and hope for a quick return of service? Should I just scrap the entire day and go to Nordstrom’s Café for a Caramelized Walnut and Pear Salad? As yummy as the salad sounded, after mulling over my options for a few minutes and then talking to the cable man who was ravaging my neighbor’s yard with a backhoe to replace a damaged cable, I decided that I would get out of my PJ’s and head to Starbucks for some free wireless access. As I was packing up my laptop to head to my Venti –sized elevator music- induced headache, my 12 year old emerged from her bedroom, clearly in grave distress, giant tears welling up in her anguished eyes and lower lip quivering. Before I could ask what was wrong, she started wailing, “This is the worst summer ever, mom! What am I supposed to do now?! The Internet is down and I can’t get on Facebook , access my Gmail or listen to music or anything! I have NOTHING to do now!!”

It’s at that moment that I had my epiphany. If aliens were planning to take over the US, they wouldn’t have to shoot us with lasers, fire noxious fumes in our faces, or immobilize us with mind control. Instead they could take down our proud nation by cutting off our access to the Internet. Without Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and iTunes, our kids would roll over as obediently for the enemy as my dog Arnie would for a piece of string cheese. It was also agonizingly apparent to me at that moment why companies should be reengineering their recruitment efforts to attract the ever elusive Millennial, the workers between the ages of 18-29 and the most educated and underworked generation in our country’s history.

So it made me wonder, what would American employers do to ensure that they would not be left in the lurch with Boomers exiting the workforce? According to USA Today, there are 79 million Boomers in the workforce now and the first wave of them begins to retire next year. As these “Lifers” exit the Daily Grind to overcrowd southern states like Florida and Arizona, I can only speculate which companies will be prepared to attract, engage and retain Gen-Y. What’s my recruitment recommendation? I say cater to the young whippersnappers or prepare to work until you’re 85!

Here are my top 5 tips to keep Gen-Y happy in your office:

Offer “Giving Back Days” so civic-minded Millennial can perform tedious tasks and back breaking work for the impoverished folks in your community, which also might slow them from joining the Peace Corp and helping impoverished folks overseas.

Hand out certificates and trophies to all Millennials showing up for work on overcast days, if it’s a Hallmark Holiday (like Valentine’s Day) or if they quit whipping their hair to the side like Zach Effron . Gen-Y is accustomed to being rewarding “Just ‘cause.”

Arrange to deliver all performance reviews with Millennial’s parents hovering like the menacing helicopters in Blackhawk Down. Consider wearing a bullet-proof vest if delivering an “under-performs” rating.

Give Millennial a mentor (aka “Babysitter”) to help navigate the corporate waters in year one. This mentor can also serve as their chaperone at Cocktail Hour.

Make concessions with the dress code…Abercrombie jeans, flip flops and tee’s are the new “business casual.”

And, Gen-Y, please don’t be offended. Deep-down I am jealous and just wish that I could have been as pampered at my first real job. But, with that being said, it does make me shudder to think that if there really is a wide spread Internet outage in America, the US labor force will likely crumble. But, until that day, I will sip on my Iced Grande Skinny Mocha no Whip, listen to the deafening Starbuck’s calliope music, and return my 186 unanswered emails. I just hope and pray that I am retired and resting on West Palm Beach before my own children join the civilian labor force.