My company, Brazen Careerist, partnered with PayScale to come up with a list of the Top 50 Employers for Gen Y. The list is based on what we at Brazen Careerist know about Gen Y and the new workplace, and what PayScale knows about slicing and dicing workplace data.
To me, the most interesting thing about Top 50 lists like this is the assumptions behind them. So here are the assumptions I think are interesting:
1. Salary negotiations are over.
In most polls, if you ask Gen Y what they care about when choosing a place to work, the top three things will be, in varying orders: flexibility, interesting work, and likable co-workers.
You will notice that salary is missing from the list. Many people assume this is because Gen Y doesn't care about salary. In fact, they care a lot. No generation has more debt than Gen Y, and no generation is more financially knowledgeable so early on in their lives as Gen Y.
Gen Y doesn't consider salary to be a huge factor in choosing a place to work because Gen Y knows that salary data is public. The days when a company can screw you by underpaying you are over. Anyone can go to a place like Payscale and find out what other people in a similar geographic location are getting paid for a similar job.
So for Gen Y, going to a company that pays fair wages is like going to a company that hires people who aren't white. It's so obvious that companies need to do that that we shouldn't even be having a discussion about it.
So the Brazen Careerist Top 50 does not ignore salary. We do assume any decent company pays fair wages, but we give a slight reward to companies that pay extra high wages to young workers.
2. Social entrepreneurship is stupid.
It's stupid because you don't' need to be calling yourself a social entrepreneur in order to save the world. We no longer divide the world into non-profit people who are do-gooders and for-profit people who are money-grubbers. We are all here to do good. After all, what else is worth living for?
So we all want to work at companies that enable us to be doing something good. We gauge this by tracking which companies have green programs. Green programs aren't the only way to do good, but it's a decent indication of how companies see their place in the world.
If a company has a strong green initiative it's because they understand the value of being a good corporate citizen. And companies like that know that employees want to feel good about the organization they work for, and the difference they make in the world.
3. Self-reported flexible workplaces are BS.
Flexibility is not something that Gen Y wants. It's something everyone wants. The idea that we are going to run our lives around our work is ridiculous. It doesn't work. We want to make each aspect of our life work well with the other aspects.
Companies know that everyone wants a flexible workplace, so every company says they offer that. No kidding. Even a company like Deloitte, known for insane hours and heavy, heavy travel, has a whole initiative to promote a flexible workplace.
Okay. So if everyone is touting flexibility, how do you really judge? In our Top 50 list we judge by how close a company gets to hiring 50% women. This is not scientifically proven, but it is true that while all demographics complain about inflexible hours, women will leave the company over it.
Caveat: I have said in the past that there is an underlying level of BS to every Top 50 list. You already knew that, though (and here’s a forum to talk about that). What you might not know, though, is that if you take the time to evaluate a top 50 list, it forces you to think about what values and programs you rank when you look at companies, and what top three things you would care most about. There might not be a list for what you want, but there is an inner compass, and the more you use it, the more quickly you get where you need to go.