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Opinion

Week in HR: Geriatric millennials and the money vs wfh debate

Yessi Bello-Perez

Unleash Your People The ‘Week in HR’ is back. Today, UNLEASH editor Yessi Bello Perez rants about geriatric millennials and the money vs wfh debate.

I’ve not had the time to sit down and write this column for a while, so if you’re a loyal follower, I apologize.

The good news, though, is that I’m back and armed with a lot of things to say — hopefully you’ll find them interesting, but if you don’t or you don’t agree, that’s also OK.

Geriatric millennials

You’ve probably seen a piece about Geriatric Millennials doing the rounds over the past week. The article, published on Medium and written by Erica Dhawan, zooms in on how people born in the early 80s, are best placed to lead the businesses in the hybrid working world because they know how to work across generational divides.

Regardless of whether you agree or not, I think there’s something very interesting about what Dhawan had to say:

“I consider myself a geriatric millennial. And let me tell you, we’ve seen things. We’re weathered internet veterans. We survived DailyBooth, Friendster, and Myspace friendship rankings, and yet here we are, feeling incredibly competent at the thought of creating a TikTok or a Clubhouse panel discussion.

“I remember the year AOL Instant Messenger was created, and signing up for Facebook when it expanded to a handful of college campuses beyond Harvard; I also remember punch cards, bulky answering machines, and calling collect to have my mom pick me up. By the time social networking rocked the internet, I’d already spent years mastering the physical body language cues and signals I’d learned from face-to-face interactions.

“It’s this hands-on experience with pre-digital communication that distinguishes geriatric millennials from the younger set […] Geriatric millennials can read the subtext of an SMS just as well as they can pick up on a client’s hesitation in their facial expressions during an in-person meeting. They are neither ignorant of technology nor so engrossed in it that a voicemail inspires fear.”

Now, I definitely think she could have dropped “geriatric” — it’s a bit of a backhanded compliment — and extended the timeline until at least 1988/89. This said, she does make a lot of valid points about the versatility of skills this generation holds, as well as their hands-on experience with analog and digital tools.

Honestly, reading this was like traveling back in time, even though I’m happy to report that I don’t actually classify as a ‘geriatric’ millennial. I’m *only* 32.

Money or remote work

Moving on, I also wanted to touch on some eye-opening survey results, which showed that workers at some of the world’s biggest and most well-known organizations would rather work from home forever than get a $30,000 annual raise.

The survey, carried out by anonymous professional network Blind, polled over 3,000 employees on the platform, asking them whether they would rather permanently work from home or get the extra cash, and 64% took work from home over the raise. Honestly, where do I start?

I’m yet to understand why remote working and money are mutually exclusive. We keep saying the future of work is flexible, people-centric, and driven by choice, yet much of the online narrative is focused on weighing up money vs working from home.

In my opinion, companies should remunerate based on skills, not location — and it’s wrong to tell employees that they have to sacrifice one over the other.

Is working remotely cheaper? Yes, but it also means I’m probably more likely to work harder, and be more productive.

By making people pick over money or flexibility, we’re once again giving the employer all of the power. And I don’t know about you, but , to me, that seems like a massive step backwards.

Organizations now have the opportunity to hire anyone from anywhere: shouldn’t these people be rewarded based on competency, the value they bring to the table, and their experience, rather than where they live?

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