“Want to attract and retain Gen Y? Better rethink everything” [The Arizona Republic] explains how employers can attract younger workers and discusses 37signals (including some quotes from Jason).

In order to appeal to us, employers need to rethink their rules a bit. Forget rigid 40-hour workweeks. Forget traditional company hierarchy…

One company that has led the charge in shifting the work-life paradigm, especially when it comes to employee relations, is 37signals. Headquartered in Chicago, it’s a multi-million dollar organization deeply committed to maintaining a work-life balance for its employees.

President Jason Fried says today’s employers present the biggest roadblock. “Simply put, employees are treated like children. They are not allowed to think for themselves, and there are too many layers of approval, just too much insulation that prevents anyone from doing anything. The traditional workplace is broken, and until someone realizes that, there’s always going to be conflict.”

This suffocation by protocol is dead on and will never allow an employee to “go beyond” or achieve something extra for the company. This is a critical link that most organizations continually fail to acknowledge. They are too focused on ensuring employees do no wrong that they actually prevent them from achieving anything beyond status quo.

But there is hope, and a solution that is more common sense than radical procedural change.

To counter the “traditional workplace,” Fried had this to offer: “We challenge them. We give them different, interesting projects. We encourage them to do something outside of work and teach us what they’ve learned. It’s no help to our company to hire someone based on a skill or to get stuff done.”

It is a simple, no-brainer solution, but one that is too often lost.