Forget Glassdoor, it’s Glass Millennials who could really harm a company culture

April 19, 2019 | Phil FershtJamie SnowdonOllie O’Donoghue


The emerging batch of “Glass Millennials” - a small but influential portion of young professionals born in the early 90s - is proving to be a unique challenge in the workplace to the age-old work ethic of having a backbone, working hard and making a workplace work for you. This batch is taking all of the stereotypes of millennials to a whole new extreme.

Forget Glassdoor, we need to vet the Glass Millennial

Many of the “older millennials” (born before 1985-90) are clearly a great mix of creative thinking with a desire to learn. And when this group of young, passionate and hardworking professionals get started, there really is no stopping them. But they’re being let down by this new batch of self-entitled kids who demand bloated paychecks and would never dream of going beyond the 9.00-5.00pm. 

In fact, having discussed these issues at length with many other employers, we believe many companies could find themselves in real trouble if they do not vet their Millennial hires effectively. Forget “Glassdoor”, if we do not have a good “Glass Millennial” detection process, we could end up making hiring decisions that could hurt many decent businesses.

Why these Glass Millennials can be so damaging to workplace culture and harmony

Glass Millennials are too arrogant to accept they also need to start at the bottom and work their way up, feel they should start on $80K (or equivalent) salaries and want to complain about literally everything.  It’s as if they’re looking for reasons to find fault in their environment because they’ve been taught if a situation doesn’t constantly make them feel warm and fuzzy in their quest for the Utopian work environment, they should just walk away.

These Glass Millennials have never been taught to make suggestions to help improve their work environments – they’ve only been taught to complain and behave like spoiled children when something doesn’t suit them.  They’ve  grown up wrapped in cotton wool and given prizes just for turning up.  When they get to the workforce they are surprised they can’t just do whatever they want and their mindset does not have the flexibility to figure out what do to so be successful, such as asking advice from experienced colleagues, investing time in training courses and putting in effort, patience and some grit to better themselves.

Oh and there is no career plan – it’s simply do what you want and if it doesn’t quite work for you, just quit and go to the next desperate employer for your services – who mistakenly thinks hiring “someone young” implies passion and enthusiasm.

And forget about respecting your elders, who needs experience these days anyway? In many cases, respect has just disappeared – that’s respect for senior colleagues, managers, clients, and even themselves. To them,  today’s businesses and institutions are just so messed up they couldn’t possibly deserve a modicum of appreciation for the fact that some people worked really hard to create the workplaces we often take for granted today.

They’ve been promised inflated paychecks, immediate promotions, and Utopian office spaces by leadership consultants and overly-optimistic parents, so you can bet that’s what they expect when they walk into your office. 

Glass Millennials expect the Utopian work environment that suits them

Quite simply, this attitude of “this doesn’t quite suit me and make me all warm and fuzzy every day” is going to be a huge issue (if not already) to so many ambitious businesses. 

Newsflash: There is no perfect work environment and one needs to work at making where they are better. Unlike what this generation seems to have experienced at school and the coddling from their parents, real life doesn't give you a trophy for just showing up. 

Our society and education system is perpetuating these attitudes by telling an entire generation that everything in life should be perfectly fair, that they should be able to have everything they want, regardless of how hard they work or talented they are, and that no one needs to learn resilience or develop inner strength and confidence because why do so when one can have the right to be offended by everything instead?

Being "offended" is the new currency of the day

In candid conversations with business leaders, we’ve heard everything from the profound despair new starters have experienced when realizing they don’t get the corner office as soon as the walk in. To the inevitable tantrum that comes when after three months of doing nothing, they’re shown the door. “Nobody explained to me that I would be doing work!?!” they cry, citing fictitious unfair management practices, and libelous accusations at colleagues who weren’t even hired at the time. 

The reality is, an entire generation is being let down by a group of over-entitled sociopaths hell-bent on doing nothing productive, but instead eking out an existence where they turn everything into a badly funded soap opera. And I know you’ll all say ‘but every generation has its bag eggs’. Sure. But this generation has a larger volume of particularly rotten ones, ruining a batch that otherwise is keen and eager to learn. They may have a different set of values, but it doesn’t take much to align them with other generations and off they go.

Finding young millennials with potential and the right attitude is critical

 We need to focus on the portion that has real potential, that has the attitude, capability, and passion to really make a difference. By doing so we can reverse the narrative we’re seeing of all millennials being bad. Some are fantastic, others are dreadful – with very little in the middle. For previous generations, it was the wedge of decent enough people that kept the balance. They clocked in, did the job, and went home. Of course, there were high fliers and problem employees, but they were neutralized by the much larger portion of people who were getting by. But now we live in a world were capability and attitude are polarised – it’s now been more important than ever to hire the right people. Because hiring the wrong people could sink your business faster than a cheese grater in the bath. (never tried it? Trust me, they sink real quick.)

If we’re not careful, an entire generation is going to wake up one day and realize they could have worked to build what they were seeking in the companies they work in, or even in their own company, instead of wasting years jumping from job to job because something as basic as the office decor didn't suit them. We believe in work-life balance, having priorities, and deciding what factors to measure one's life on.

But the thought that work environments owe this to you is naive. One must create the balance they are looking for instead of accusing workplaces of not creating it for them. No one is going to tell you to take time off or spend time with your family. You must create the balance you seek. 

The Bottom-line:  If this becomes the new work attitude, then we are royally f***ed

We can only hope the proportion of Gen Zs (and whatever else is behind this batch) aren’t as lilly-livered and self-entitled as this lot.  However, considering the coddling culture just seems to have got more and more cotton-woolly over the last 20 years, our fear is it could get even worse. So here’s what we need to do going forward – we need to work together with the young professionals that are passionate, hardworking, and eager to learn. We need to ensure they get the opportunities they rightly deserve and give them the opportunity and flexibility to shape their work. To do this we need to evolve recruitment processes to more readily siphon off ‘glass millennials’ who in the space of just a few short years have shattered the reputation of an entire generation. Honestly, stop wasting your energy trying to coach and mentor them, save that for the ones that really want it. 

Already, employers are wising up to the threat posed by these glass millennials.  As an employer ourselves, nothing beats the fact that someone can come into an organization ready to make changes that benefit them and everyone around them. Rather than sit in the corner and do nothing but lament the lack of their ill-defined workplace utopia. The future workplace is made by the young professionals coming through the ranks now, ready for change and eager to drive it. Let’s help them leave the glass millennials behind.

We need to push the blame away from millennials in general and onto enterprises - that's the conclusion, stop whining about bad millennials... you hired them. Change your hiring processes to ensure you only get the good ones.

Posted in: Sourcing Change Management

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  1. Chichi Ogwe
    | Posted Apr 23, 2019 07:25 AM | Permalink Reply

    Well said Phil!

  2. R Wall
    Posted Apr 23, 2019 02:28 PM | Permalink Reply

    Is it really that bad? Either good, hardworking millenials or "sociopaths"? I haven't seen this level of polarization - it may be our recruiting tends to attract the ones who want to succeed and work hard to achieve goals. Is this a US cultural issue? Or global?

    We do tend to favor experienced SME's these for core hubs (FKA "onshore"), with most millennial hires in FKA "offshore and nearshore" hubs. Granted there are the stories of being "ghosted" by new hires... but I believe this isn't a millennial issue... has been a challenge in hot ,high-growth employment markets before the majority of millennials joined the workforce.

    We do tend to forget the Gen Xers.... still a strong force in the market.

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