There’s been a lot of talk around the water cooler lately about theyounger generation. Us twenty-something’s and our lack of respect, work ethic, loyalty and commitment. Oh, and of course, our never ceasing sense of self-entitlement.
Naturally, such discussion gets my back up a bit. Not that this isn’t old news – I’ve been reading articles about the Gen [insert anything younger than the baby boomers]’s excessive whining since I was beginning my post-secondary education. What’s frustrating is that it always seems to be coming from the perspective of the older generation. Furthermore, that while some of it is sadly true (I read one article about parents doing follow up phone calls after job interviews – what?!) it rarely seems to be weighed in context.
I’m going to try and take these on from my admittedly biased perspective and see where it gets me.
The younger generation has a lack of respect in the work place.
Provide me with context. Do you mean that we talk back? Do you mean that we lack manners? Do you mean all of the above?
This one is probably true. My grandfather thinks it’s disrespectful that I wear jeans to work despite this being perfectly acceptable in my work place. He’d probably faint if he knew that I voice my opinions openly during meetings, or explain my perspective to my boss if I want to approach a problem differently. I will say that I definitely DO have manners – which I find rare in the office. This doesn’t seem to be a generational issue though; more like a free for all of poor communication. E-mail etiquette, not to mention common “please” and “thank you” is rarer than I care to divulge and brings out a lot of my frustration. Still, I chalk that one up to people being people more than anything else. Again, that’s my perspective.
The younger generation has no work ethic.
If you mean that we don’t want to stay at the office until all hours of the night because we value work life balance then I agree.
It isn’t that I don’t value my work. But I do get annoyed whenever I’m expected to answer an e-mail at 11:00 pm because that isn’t your time. I happen to value the other aspects of my life (family, friends, outside hobbies or commitments) as much as I value my work. That doesn’t mean I won’t work my hardest on a project, or give you 100% of myself on the clock. It simply means that in this particular position, I do have a clock that ends, and that should be respected.
I think this goes back to respect. I respect that you feel you should work 24/7 because as an executive you’re being paid a lot of money to be available. I don’t do my work on a sliding scale; I give 100% all the time. But there isn’t an expectation that someone on my pay grade work with the same volume and complexity as someone making x4 of what I do! If you want to pay me more, assign me more responsibility and make it an expectation of the job that’s one thing. I wouldn’t have a high work ethic if I accepted that position and did not follow through. But as an underling who is offered little respect and even less pay? Do not expect me to constantly go above and beyond without reason. That’s not a lack of work ethic; that’s a respect for my time, and how much you seem to value me. Once in a while is fine! I am more than happy to help out. But if you’re going to consistently rely on me; expect me to expect more. That’s just good business.
The younger generation has no loyalty or commitment.
Imagine graduating with $40,000.00 worth of debt. You’ve worked very hard for your degree – which is required to get the most basic job in your field.
You get hired on to company for $30,000 per year, doing the most mind numbing tasks day in and day out, for a boss who claims that asking for more challenging work is a sign of your typically spoiled nature. You grind away at it because you know you have to put in some time.
After two years, the company shows no signs of wanting to help develop you. You’re doing the same projects and basically waiting for someone to retire.
Your options are to go elsewhere to gain new and fresh experiences to add to your career – or stay and hope one day (maybe in ten years or so) you’ll get your boss’s old job. If they don’t hire above your head.
Explain to me why you would stay?
If companies want loyal, they need to be able to demonstrate why they are worthy of an employee’s time. Again, it’s a matter of respect. You can’t expect to develop loyalty out of the blue by doing nothing! Sadly, this is the common picture for many graduates.
Then younger generation has a sense of self entitlement.
You are damn right I do.
I understand that you have work experience of 20+ years; that you started at the bottom and worked your way up.
But you told me I had to spend $40,000 to get this degree. I spent 4 years of my life acquiring knowledge that you are choosing not to value. I’m not saying that education should replace experience. But chances are when you started you needed more training and time to get the skills you have than we do today because you didn’t have those opportunities. I’m not saying we should be executives tomorrow – but 5 years in a mail room with a BA is ridiculous and a waste.
Don’t assume I have no experience. I worked my way through University; I’ve dipped my toes in the office pool. I didn’t spend all of my time at co-ops and volunteering to be told I have no experience! Make use of me!
I’m going to take a low salary; I’m going to do the tasks no one wants to do. I’m probably going to put in more years doing that job you hated despite coming into the work place with more knowledge and skills than you did because you aren’t going to retire any time soon.
So yes, I think I deserve a challenge. Yes, I think I deserve a few incentives after the second year of a crummy salary and boring as hell work to stay here.
THANK YOU for giving us the opportunities you never had and the chances to better ourselves through education and work place programs. Now please, let us actually use what we’ve learned and teach us what we haven’t. If you don’t, we’ll find someone who will. Demonstrating that you believe in our abilities and are willing to help develop us is an important part of demonstrating that you as a company value and respect us.
Otherwise, if you truly intend to continue keeping us in rut jobs for 5 – 10 years, start hiring people who haven’t put in the work, you obviously don’t value it anyway.