The American Spirit vs. Corporate America

As the resumes roll in for open positions here at the Studio, we are again reminded of something we have suspected for a while. There are legions of burned out corporate drones looking for liberation.  Study after study shows that Gen X and Gen Y will have over six jobs in their lifetime, viewing each as a brief stint before their next move.

One report in the Boston Globe stated that between 30 and 40 percent of graduates from a selection of top schools, including Harvard and Carnegie-Mellon, are bypassing corporate America and starting their own businesses. Similar reports show that at least half of all Millennials aspire to be self-employed, and view a solo career as more stable than a corporate one.

Young, bright and motivated people are tired of working hard and having their work go nowhere except down the crevices of the corporate bureaucracy. A friend of ours, a brilliant social media and PR strategist just left FedEx, exasperated after years of playing politics and waiting for his boss to get promoted or leave so that he could move up a rung.  His boss sits in the traffic jam as well, waiting for the Boomers to retire so that he can move up and feel a small sense of accomplishment. Our friend left FedEx and has taken a job overseas. Another  friend of ours discovered a way to save Coca-Cola tens of millions of dollars by making a simple policy and financial change. Her suggestion fell on deaf ears- no one wanted to rock the boat.

Bright people are streaming out of corporate America because they want to make an impact. They want to grow businesses. They want have a purpose and make a difference.  As it stands today, they are relegated to their cubes- business is not disrupted when they leave and no one notices when they are gone.

Corporate America: you are losing your best people. You are left with the worker bees (a very important part of the team to be sure) and the politicians. These people are mired in old ways of thinking and doing things “the way they have always been done.”

The problem is you, not them. They want what all bright people require: intellectual stimulation, autonomy and entrepreneurial incentives.

Fortune 500: you want to innovate? Empower your younger workforce to think creatively.  Give them and their innovative ideas access to top leadership. Break the ladder and shatter the concept of pay grades- promote them over their status quo managers.  Shake things up. The days of the rank and file and the gold watch are gone. Your Boomer management will be gone soon too. What then?

Foster the spirits of your best and brightest. Onward American innovation.

Happy 4th of July.