Thursday, June 30

Thinking about work, time, and generational perspectives

Great Resignation. Great Reshuffle. Regardless of what you call it, the work place has changed and will continue to change. Sure, we can thank or blame any and all of the generations for different elements of those changes. We can point to the pandemic. We can point to the fact that some hiring practices haven't changed in decades. We can underscore the fact that some hiring managers can't break certain habits about how the work place should, well, work or what should be the minimum requirements for employees.

Those who aren't ageist and ableist recognize that there is value in maturity and experience, or just older folks and for reasons that differ depending on the job and the place of employment. They also recognize that some different abilities contribute in unexpectedly surprising and valuable ways.

Thanks to, because of, or in spite of the pandemic, people have learned more about working more efficiently from wherever they are. Even many of us Boomers are more reluctant to do more for less of anything, and not just because we feel less loyalty to an organization from which we sense none. We have less time in front of us than we do behind us so we are more mindful of how we use that time.

For many of us, including Gen Z, the objective isn't just "Show me the money." In May, Business Insider published a story about what Gen Z wants, or what is typical of the Gen Z worker. (I should note that we really need to stop generalizing what any generation is or wants because each generalization has to come with several caveats.) So what does this article say about Gen Z workers? I'll share the publication's bulleted summary.

This is nothing new to anyone who works with some Gen Zers and who has tried to hire or hired a Gen Z worker. Although, again, this is not true of all Gen Z workers. What you don't see is salary although I'm sure they want a decent one, and what constitutes a "decent" salary depends on many factors.

In the June 29 issue of the Business Insider newsletter are these stories.

Business Insider has often highlighted passive income streams and those are almost always six digits or more. This, then, is very much "show me the money!". Mixed messages. Everywhere.

And yet the May 2022 story notes 
"This is a generational shift, driven by Gen Z and millennial candidates who are more likely to believe the employer-employee relationship should be a two-way street," Minshew said. "On top of this, the pandemic has emphasized for many that 'life is short,' which means candidates are less likely to stick around in unfulfilling jobs."
It's part of a larger trend. Twenty percent of people who joined the Great Resignation regret quitting their jobs, per a new Harris Poll survey by USA Today that polled 2,000 American adults. The survey found that some of these workers were lured by the prospect of a higher salary without taking other job factors into consideration, only to find that they lost a work-life balance or that their new role was different than expected.

Most of us have seen some of those videos about how different generations respond to working late or working over the weekend. As a Boomer, my first instinct is to do what the boss or customer wants or needs, even if it seems unreasonable. Thanks to the pandemic, I've learned to make different choices.

Many of us have worked those extra (and unpaid) hours over a weekend to prepare something for Monday that ended up being unnecessary or the wrong thing. 

While I believe that younger generations can learn some things from older generations, older generations can learn some things from the younger generations, too. And maybe being reminded about prioritizing our contentment and what brings us joy is one of the most important lessons any of us can learn and remember.