Millennials won’t work for muffins. So let’s stop expecting them to.

My guess is you’ve seen the media blowout in the last few days over Muffin Break boss, Natalie Brennan’s comment on Millennial interns ––or lack thereof.

In case you didn’t, a few days ago, in an interview with News.com, Muffin Break’s General Manager claimed she has seen a considerable decline over the past 10 years in interns who are looking for unpaid work.

Her commentary saw reaction from all corners of the globe, Twitter went a bit nuts and so did the mainstream media, proving something I’ve been sure of for a long time, the “Millennial Issue” is as polarising as it is popular among corporate Australia.

The backlash was sassy, balancing Brennan’s flippant remarks with equally flippant retort.

One commentator, Simon Hinter tweeting,

“Dear #MuffinBreak. I’m not sure your food and coffee will provide the sustenance I need. I am, however, willing to give you the opportunity to provide me with free food for 6 months. If satisfied, I will happily give you a written recommendation you can use to persuade others.”

Ha. Nice.

Probably the most outrageous of Ms Brennan’s remarks claimed Millennials refused to work for free as a result of social media. Feeding an entire generation’s inflated ego, she says.
“I think everybody thinks social media is going to get them ahead somewhere,” she told the publication.

We have been fed this palavar for years by the media and here it is again.

And these opinions, these reports, are the exact type of grand generalisations that damages other non-Millennials’ views of Millennials. It’s not only unfair and divisive, it’s bloody unproductive for any organisation or individual within an organisation to shame an entire generation in this way. Particularly because it’s just not true.

I was pleasantly surprised however, by how many spokespeople were going into bat for the misunderstood generation.

Saying Brennan’s accusations of Millennials expecting reward for ‘simply doing their job’, is laughable when older executives expect exorbitant bonuses for doing their jobs.

Others spoke of Millennials struggling already to pay rent, bills, school fees, and being exploited in the workplace on top of that just isn’t fair. Referring to Ms Brennan’s statement on young people having an unwillingness to do work experience or unpaid work at all–– specifically graduates.
Firstly, good on them and secondly, what a bloody ridiculous thing to say, particularly without any factual evidence on this phantom unwillingness she speaks of.

In fact, you don’t have to dig too deep to find facts to the contrary.

According to recent studies, Millennials are actually MORE inclined to do unpaid work than older generations. A 2017 survey commissioned by the Federal Department for Employment, interviewed 3800 adults between 18-29 and found 58 percent had done unpaid work experience in the past five years. It also estimated a third of Australians aged 18-64 had done some unpaid work. Maths isn’t my strongest suit, but to me it looks as though these Millennial generations are actually doing more unpaid work than their predecessors.

But those are just facts and figures, what’s more disturbing about this report––and the most damaging in my eyes, is that it was newsworthy in the first place.

Like any PR savvy corporation, it seems Muffin Break has had little a word to Brennan and she’s since retracted her statements and apologised for the way she may have worded her opinion, highlighting that it is not the view of any FoodCo businesses to have unpaid employees ––of course, because in Australia this is in fact, illegal.

In my opinion, if it wasn’t Brennan, it would have been someone else the media would have quoted to push the mass-Millennial-bashing agenda we have all reluctantly become a part of in recent years.
The narrative is stronger than the individual. Brennan I feel was just a red herring.

Let’s take a look at why what she said ––or what was reported, is so ridiculous.

I guess the most obvious question is why do we think young people in this climate should work any type of job for free? Especially when they’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars already on an education–– most likely also pushing them into debt before they even have a chance to save up for a house deposit.

Why do you think these young media savvy people would take on jobs with companies like Muffin Break, whose culture is clearly one of “We are better than you because we are older”?

The truth is, I don’t know too many of these mythical entitled Millennials that aren’t actually willing to put in some extra hours in preparation for the right role or promotion. They are actually out there everywhere, but I don’t know any person in their right mind who would expect to work for free and keep their self-respect. It’s just not right. SO why would we expect it of Millennials?

I think Sally McManus, The Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary, put it best when she said:
“Millennials have had enough of being robbed. Robbed of wages, robbed of ever having a job with paid leave, robbed of ever owning a house. Good on them. Those doing the robbing had better watch out.”

What do you think?