Blame the Boomers, not Gen X-Y-Z

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

Employers nowadays complain about the “new generation” of employees who behave more like transient or transit passengers at an airport rather than long-term staff in companies. On the average, many new young hires stay about four to six months, not years.

What HR managers and employers now find shocking is the “cold” manner by which the new kids disengage from a company for more reasons than their parent’s generation did. They are labelled as feeling “entitled” or as spoiled brats. But it may shock you to realize that this behavior is “inherited” from us as a result of all our struggles and complaints as employees.

As far as young people are concerned, bully bosses, or crippling workspaces, or absence of intelligent life form will be tolerated for a maximum of two weeks and the kids leave “to preserve their mental health.” Patiently enduring and believing for a change is not in the equation. They leave with speed and that creates the change.

Today’s young employees put a premium on their self-respect over and above bringing home the bacon or keeping a job. Self-respect dictates that no one, not even their boss or a business owner, has a right to insult them, disrespect them or in any way or form insult them.

This generation has raised the bar for what is expected from leaders as well as the appropriate response to their conduct. You can tell them off but don’t make a habit of it because in their reality, you correct and teach a person about an error or task that does not come up to expectation. You don’t rub salt on the wound or use their “fail” to fertilize your ego or power trip.

Respect also dictates that their views be heard and considered. Today’s young people are far more informed, widely exposed and trained to be confident in their views. That is why we hear about “gaslighting” and “cancel cultures” and “talk to the palm” push backs.

The internet and media have given them a global standard on how people should be treated as well as be recognized for their role and contribution, unlike their parents who just sucked it up, or sucked up to a boss. The kids now are intolerant of credit grabbers.

For those who stay a little longer, the subsequent triggers are generally a “toxic work environment” which doesn’t necessarily refer to a “Devil who wears Prada” at the workplace. Toxic could simply be the incessant deadlines, rush jobs or client reps who think they bought your soul because they chose you to service their requirements.

There was a time when “pressure” was all part of the job, late nights came with the territory and some boss cussing you out was all part of the job. But those days have slowly passed and for good reason.

Back in the old days, businesses were generally family owned and run by people who did not have the academic or professional management training. They subsequently treated their employees just a few notches better than their maids and houseboys.

In the days of Boomer office workers, college degrees were a plus but not necessarily essential. Drivers generally needed nothing more than a license, referral and work experience. A two-year secretarial course was enough to start you off as an “executive assistant.” Education was cheaper.

But nowadays, companies have piled up requirements to get the best candidates at the lowest price. Not only do you need to be cleared by the NBI, police and a laboratory for drugs or communicable disease at your expense, they now require college degrees for a position mixing coffee or selling credit cards.

Certain agencies and positions even demand a master’s degree but do not offer commensurate compensation for the investments made to get such degrees.

One sensitive area among Gen XYZ involves impositions on personal time and space such as take-home work or overtime. Unlike past generations, the young people today have a life outside work, they treat their personal time as inviolable. These are all part of the “boundaries” they have learned and established through their life.

Their parents may have found overtime equates to more money, but the younger generation have better things to do with their time after office and a number really make more money doing side hustles and gigs outside of the office. Besides which, today’s young recruits are the “no homework on weekends” generation.

To better appreciate and understand this culture and values, we, the Boomers and elders, need to look back into our past life as “employees” who devoted our lives to a company or a job at the family’s expense.

Many of us lamented our “shitty” situation at work, the monster we work for or the backstabbing credit grabbers. Then we would tell the kids that there would be no weekend trip or “pasyal” because we had work to do. Kids were generally on the receiving end of the office-related anger and frustration.

We sold our soul to the company in the false hope of eventually having a nice shiny car or a house and lot but ended up working more for the company to get the upgrade. As the children grew, they slowly became aware of the high price of education, raising a family and the “slave wages” their parents were paid.

And so today, they are less inclined to pursue the dream and the romance their parents chased and compromised for. The only “good” we did was to show them it was not worth it and they have learned well.

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