Getting Ahead

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By Kareem Taylor

Three years ago, I found myself working at The NoMad Hotel in New York City as a bouncer … still the greatest job I’ve had. For the first time, I felt I was making a meaningful contribution. And they didn’t have any ping pong tables or free snacks. Instead, I was welcomed to complimentary but stale coffee and a vending machine.

How, then, was this the best place to work? I – and most of my colleagues – felt included..

If you’ve applied for a job recently, you’ve seen it on the careers page: ping-pong tables, unlimited vacation and free yoga classes. Every company — maybe on the latest list of the best places to work — offers these attractive perks. They tell the tale of a fun environment where everyone works hard loves one another other. The myth says that if millennials get perks then all is right in the world. A recent study shows that millennials (and anyone working in today’s economy) want more than free snacks and happy hours. They want something simpler.

These companies don’t live what they sell. According to a recent story in The Economist, 19% of tech employees were happy in their jobs. Most feel undervalued and alienated. The conventional wisdom tells us that if you hand a talented person lots of cash, shares, and free beer, they’ll be happier at work. The research proves otherwise.

When you look at the career pages that promote diversity and innovation, check out the employee photos. You probably won’t see much diversity or innovation.

Most people don’t feel included in their workplace. Who holds the responsibility to make everyone feel welcomed? Leaders do … and millennials. They can change work as we know it. Keith Ferrazzi sums it up in Never Eat Alone: We must create environments in which everyone wins.

The future holds great opportunity for us to take part in changing how we work, how we get ahead, and how we take care of our families.

I left The NoMad inspired, forever thinking differently about work. And now I know for sure that getting ahead in today’s economy requires accepting the fact that you and I now work in human resources.