Muffin Break Boss Sad Insta-obsessed Gen Y Won’t Work for Free
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Muffin Break Boss Sad Insta-obsessed Gen Y Won’t Work for Free


“They have an inflated view of their self-importance”: Muffin Break boss slams “lazy” millennials – given an “inflated” sense of self-importance due to social media – who refuse to do unpaid work because they all want to be influential on Instagram.

“People are clueless”

Natalie Brennan, general manager of Muffin Break, a multinational fast-food franchise business owned by Foodco, has expressed disgust that today’s young people will not work for her for free.

The woman says she used to receive dozens of applications for unpaid work experience and internships from those “backing themselves” with “passion and enthusiasm,” but no longer does.

“There’s just nobody walking in my door asking for an internship, work experience or unpaid work, nobody,” said Ms. Brennan, apparently under the belief that unwillingness to provide an international corporation with free labor is a sign of Millennial self-importance.

A decade ago, Brennan, who has been with franchise giant Foodco for 18 years, had a glut of desperate young people who would repeatedly call her and beg her to let her work for free while today’s applicants are interested in getting paid, and want to know how long they’ll have to work at sub-survival wages before they can expect a raise.

“You don’t see it anymore. Before that people would be knocking on your door all the time, you couldn’t keep up with how many people wanted to be working. In fact I’d run programs because there were so many coming in,” Ms. Brennan complains.

“In essence they’re working for free, but I can tell you every single person who has knocked on my door for an internship or work experience has ended up with a job. Every single person, because they back themselves.”

Muffin Break general manager Natalie Brennan /

Last year she had one intern in marketing and “that was it.” “I can’t even remember the one before that, six, seven, eight years ago,” she said, adding that “passion is lacking these days.”

“One fellow I hired, he was underqualified, completely not the right person, but he rang me every two weeks for six months,” she said.

“He said, ‘I will do anything, I’ll start at ground level.’ After six months I hired him, because you can’t teach passion and enthusiasm. He worked for five or six years and moved on to a high role in another company.”

These days, some candidates are brazen enough to condition their willingness to work for her on her giving them a higher wage than she initially offered. They often walk in to interviews “thinking they’re better than the job,” immediately asking, “How long before I get my promotion? When is the first pay rise?”

In one case after she ended the interview early, the candidate “sent me an abusive email saying I was underpaying, but then said, ‘If you pay X amount more I’ll come and work for you.’”

“People are clueless,” she said.

“Not only am I not going to hire you, I will tell everybody about you as well. That’s the thing people don’t realize — whatever industry you’re in, it’s a small industry.”

Ms. Brennan says there is “this unreal view that you’re going to come into a company and be the general manager or CEO in five years.”

“There might be $2000, $3000, $5000 flex for the right person, but generally it doesn’t matter if an amazing person comes in if you’re hiring for a junior role, you only have a junior role pay. But there are still people out there who come in and say, ‘I’m willing to work for junior wages to show what I’m worth.’”

Social media is to blame

Ms. Brennan blames social media for the entitlement mentality, as the steady decline began about a decade ago and has gotten significantly worse since the Instagram celebrity became a more well-known phenomenon.

The rise of social media has meant young people believe they can make money from being Instagram influencers and are therefore reluctant to work hard, the woman says.

Online media is now a profitable market for Instagram models and is a legitimate full-time career, with some online stars making thousands of dollars for a single post. Generally, the influencers are expected to pose alongside a product and provide a review.

Instagram model Tarsha Whitmore has made a career out of her social media presence / Instagram

“I think everybody thinks social media is going to get them ahead somewhere,” she said. “There’s definitely that inflated view of their self-importance because they have X amount of Instagram followers or this many likes. That’s dangerous.”

And that flows through into performance management. “It’s like, I’m your manager and your mentor but not your cheerleader,” she said.

“Even giving people constructive criticism about how they can learn or improve, it’s like someone is ‘unfriending’ them. It’s like a personal attack. This ability to learn and grow through working in an environment, people don’t want to do it anymore.”

She feels like young people want to be applauded or named “staff member of the month for doing their job.” “Great, you did your job, so you get to keep your job,” she said.

“I’m generalizing, but it definitely feels like this generation of 20-somethings has to be rewarded even if it’s the most mundane, boring thing, they want to be rewarded for doing their job constantly.”

Ms. Brennan recalls how, after she went overseas to a conference for two weeks, one of her subordinates demanded a pay rise for “looking after the department” while she was gone.

“I said, ‘Actually you didn’t, I wasn’t on leave. You had maybe an extra 10 emails to deal with for two weeks. That was part of your job. If you had solved this problem or saved us money, that’s a thing to bring to me.’”

Brennan is certain people should be willing to work for little pay “to show what [they’re] worth.”

Insta-generation used social media platforms to respond

Brennan’s comments have been widely derided on social media.

Many people online have pointed to previous unsavory reports regarding how Muffin Break pays its workers.  Last year a parliamentary inquiry concerning franchises heard a Muffin Break franchisee was told to “consider paying underpaying staff that [he could] trust.”

“The key message was that as migrants, I must be aware of other migrants or students who would gladly accept underpayments in lure of their first job and hence not report or complain,” said franchisee Faheem Mirza. Muffin Break brand owner Foodco denied the allegation.

Muffin Break has also previously fallen afoul of the Fair Work Ombudsman. In 2016 the Ombudsman found two Muffin Break workers were underpaid a total of over $46,000, and in 2014 it found a student who had worked at Muffin Break for almost two years had been underpaid almost $20,000.

According to Muffin Break’s website, the franchise has over 210 stores in Australia and a total of over 300 stores internationally.

Author: USA Really