Are we creating the standard of a poor work ethic?

Posted On October 28, 2015

Last time, we looked at the millennial backlash toward the “entitled” stereotype. In a recent column for, bestselling author and sales leadership consultant Lisa Earle McLeod argues that perhaps it’s not the millennials who need to adjust, but the workplace itself.

Writing with her millennial daughter, cum laude Boston University grad Elizabeth McLeod, she notes that one of the biggest disconnects for millennials in the workplace isn’t that they expect too much, but that employers expect too little.

Written as an open letter to management from a resigning millennial, McLeod’s number one reason for that “resignation” was that low performance is tolerated.

“I’m working my heart out and every time I look up Donna-Do-Nothing is contemplating how long is too long to take for lunch,” McLeod’s fictional millennial writes. “I start wondering why leadership tolerates this. Is that the standard here? No thanks.”

The other reasons correspond more closely with how millennials are often viewed – they’re looking for purpose in their work, to be surrounded by other motivated professionals, to be treated as individuals.

Come to think of it, that’s fairly well in line with what most of us would like in a job.

So what, you say? Why should I bend to align myself with what some latte-sipping millennial thinks a workplace should look like?

Perhaps because millennials are already 35 percent of the workforce, and will nearly half the workforce by 2020.

The resumes may be flowing in now and the open positions few, but smart employers won’t be afraid to adjust if they hope to continue attracting top talent.

McLeod argues that their companies will be the better for it. She has long made the case that a high performance culture isn’t created through numbers, but through having a higher purpose – something beyond the bottom line. Instead of focusing on how many sales were made, for instance, focus on how those sales helped the lives of the customers. She calls it a Noble Purpose.

While McLeod believes its benefit is universal, it may be essential to keep from having a steady flow of millennials headed out the door, with resignation letters reading something like this:

“I’m desperate for you to show me that the work we do here matters, even just a little bit. I’ll make copies, I’ll fetch coffee, I’ll do the grunt work. But I’m not doing it to help you get a new Mercedes.”







Categories: Uncategorized