Disengaged, indifferent and cheated young workers are setting the bar very low – The Irish Times

Not too long ago, Mark Zuckerberg logged on to a Q&A session with his staff that I would have loved to see.

Specifically, I wish I had seen the Facebook founder’s face when a Chicago employee named Gary asked if the extra days off that were introduced during the pandemic would continue into 2023.

Zuckerberg looked “visibly frustrated” with the question, according to a report of the meeting on the news site The Verge.

He had just explained that the economy was probably collapsing. TikTok was a competitive threat and it had to freeze hiring for some jobs.

So no, Gary in Chicago, the extra vacation wouldn’t last and neither would the days of pampering the employees. People had to work harder and Zuckerberg didn’t care if some decided to quit. “In reality, there’s probably a bunch of people in the business who shouldn’t be here,” he said.

Now, I have no idea how old Gary is, but given that the average age of a Facebook employee is around 28, I doubt he saw the first moon walk. I also think a lot of bosses reading this would like what Zuckerberg said.

As work returns to something approaching pre-Covid normalcy, I’ve lost count of the complaints I’ve heard from managers, most in their late 30s and 40s, about their pampered, disengaged and indifferent twenty-something employees.

shorter hours

Here are some examples.

There was the bewildered investor who told junior staff that he should be in the office when visiting clients, only for that staff to say thank you for the feedback, but would prefer to continue working from home.

There was the TV director who was told that young employees working on a long shoot would prefer shorter hours if they had to leave the head office.

A consultant told me about a younger colleague who refused to travel overseas for client meetings, insisting they could be done online. And a financial adviser who ranted about young people logging into important internal meetings where they kept their cameras off and said nothing.

I know these are just anecdotes. Some of the hardest working people I know are under 30 and there is too much emphasis on lazy generational stereotypes.

Moreover, as British researcher Professor Bobby Duffy wrote last year in his excellent book, Generations, complaints about young people date back to ancient Greece, when Socrates lamented their disregard for authority, their bad manners and their greed.

Still, the sheer volume and consistency of these latest gripes makes me wonder if something else is going on.

Dr. Eliza Filby, a generational researcher who advises companies on how to manage and recruit people in their twenties, thinks so.

Financial crisis

She told me the other day that the pandemic had reinforced the factors that set these workers apart, starting with their overworked and exhausted bosses in their 30s and 40s.

These older executives had weathered the shaken uncertainty of the global financial crisis and then Covid, but often still relied on their parents to avert financial disaster.

No wonder, says Filby, their juniors ask, “Why do you work so hard? What do you have to show for that? »

Young workers also have a much better idea of ​​how their work compares to what’s on offer elsewhere, thanks to endless social media updates.

They grew up knowing that money could be made on e-commerce sites such as Depop, which is just as well because they often work less part-time than older employees at their age, partly because that the school is more competitive now.

The result is that many younger, over-parented employees come into their first job unaware of how much better it is than serving beer — and unconvinced that it will meet their lifelong financial needs.

Filby’s advice: listen to them. Provide excellent training. But don’t take their slightest whims into account, because “you’re not really helping them in life.”

I agree. I also think there has never been a better time to be an ambitious and hardworking young employee. Finding a good job isn’t easy, but if you do, you might find yourself surrounded by lots of people your own age who set an unusually low bar. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022

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