RE: Hiring The Cultural Creative – What Other Motivations?
Being part of the often-tagged ‘Millenial’ generation, more often than not we are told that we have extremely low attention spans, show little workplace loyalty, we are aesthetically and therefore (logic-falsely) materialistically driven; and are harder to keep within a market segment as we are constantly in flux and prone to wandering.
I guess the social re-birth of the internet had massively shaped our world-view and views of things like citizen journalism, YouTube celebrity, sharing, accessibility, creative marketing and CSR. Oops.
Luckily, David Hassell, CEO of tech-intel startup 15Five, argues the opposite – particularly those employed within startups, SMEs and cultural enterprise. It pretty much reads as ‘How To Hire The Cultural Creative’.
While the publication is largely America-centric, David’s article at Tech Crunch is wholly appropriate to a global workforce that’s smarter than it’s given credit for.
Of the millenials currently and looking to work within the digital and cultural sectors, he wrote: “Cultural creatives, many of whom are millennials, are employees who go beyond just producing to actually innovate new ideas. They are independent, seek achievement, thrive on ambiguity and risk taking, and look for new opportunities at every turn.”
I spoke to an ex-colleague and friend of mine Jon, 25, a bona fide cultural creative who would refuse to be called such as he definitely sees himself as something simpler and more wholesome: a writer.
Jon currently works for a tiny but fierce mobile app company in London. He is like a lot of us: has a traditional degree, he’s still paying off the loan, but he has a diverse skillset which includes illustration, marketing analytics and web development alongside his writing.
“It became abundantly clear that the avenues I originally wanted in publishing weren’t quite up to the speed I was learning at,” he says without boasting, genuinely outlining the auto-didact instinct which the internet has helped to breed within the typical Millenial.
“On a non-work day I can talk about Will Self and epic theatre and Bertolt Brecht with the rest of the English graduates. After a while though, it’s old. Our generation, oh sheez listen to me lol, were promised transparency in everything from learning, to gaming. It’s all open.
“A lot of avenues aren’t these things despite what they say, maybe the ‘Millenials’ or whatever look to change all of this.”
I asked Jon what motivates him as a Copywriter and Digital Native who actively asked his boss if he could have a go at redeveloping their dusty websites. Of course the man at the top said yes – the value is clear.
We both agreed that David Hassell hit the nail on the head when talks about holistic benefits over the typical Pension/Dental/Holiday plans:
Maybe employees will ask for a day off a month to contribute to a charity or cause; maybe they’ll ask to celebrate birthdays at work; or maybe they’ll ask for a better communication process at all-hands meetings. Find out what your employees want and then make those things official policies in your charter.
Jon said: “Defnintely. I want to be in a position where I am balanced – I’ve got a good career and I’m given more responsibility in line with proving myself, but, like making sure I’m not f***ing up the world creating a life and a future.” He regularly volunteers with a local foodbank which currently helps disadvantaged groups who are often misunderstood and are thought to have been sanctioned for their poverty by the UK government.
Millenials want to make a difference and hate pretension.
“Also, don’t make me wear a suit if I’m not client facing. Pointless.”
It was interesting to make that point: is our generation’s obsession with being relaxed-but-on-topic: cool, basically, something that we need to have in the workplace? How does that translate?
“Luckily my workplace is really understanding of the fact that we need lives. I know blue chips are, have adopted that culture quite quickly.
But I think one of the most empowering and attractive things a company can do for a ‘Cultural Creative’ (he air quotes with Tumblr pictures of shows we watch over Google IM, ironically) is to recognise they have something valuable to offer. That’s not new. But the deliver is – we have a creative space specifically for coming up with new ideas and I’ve made a Brain Sandbox.”
Jon says: “It’s an online scrapbook where everyone in the company can log in and submit pictures and ideas, safe in the knowledge they won’t be nicked or leveraged. We’ll have a meeting twice a month to discuss them infromally but more often than not, sometimes incredibly constructive comes from it.”
This is really close to David’s re-working of the HR model for the Millenial:
Instead of Human Resources, try developing a People and Culture department. Traditional HR views employees as “workers” who produce or “assets” to be counted on a balance sheet. This type of thinking makes cultural creatives shudder, because they don’t want to be machines churning out products and profit.
Perhaps rather than the shallow, mindless label we’re often given, the Millienial actually yearns for more meaningful-to-our-chosen-industry workloads, for speed, for relevance, for an internal openworld culture… just keep it cool.
Keep it cool why? More often than not we’re interning at our own expense or at parents’, we’re not working in the field we really want – but we adapt quickly to prevent the boredom we are famously known for quickly getting. Millenials inherently understand how rich content, videos and audiences – and therefore conversions – work online. We would like to be recognised for that.