The generation entering the workforce has the wrong ideas. I am going to make the cut off pretty simple. If you played sports as a little kid and they did not keep score you are in the demographic I am talking about. Lets refer to them as the generation of non-losers.
When I went to high school I could point out every single burn out. I knew that most of them were going to skip college and just spend the next 5 years hanging out at the bowling alley. They will years later wake up from the stupor and do something with their lives. Some of them never did, some of them did some college but could not kick the slacker habits. Those kids to me were trying to get their parents to pay attention to them… now fast forward a little bit to the kids that their parents spoiled because they paid too much attention to them.
I know it sounds a little crazy, but I do think that the overprotective parents that never let their kids lose might have ruined them for the workforce.
I have seen this trend more and more in recent years. Kids come out of college expecting to make more money than those people that have the experience just because their degree is on the latest technology. They feel a level of entitlement that is at times a little scary. This gap is even bigger when they work for a baby boomer who is used to a totally different type of work ethic.
Most kids in these generation want an almost equal amount of play for the time the put into work. Places like google and flickr show a “fun” work environment where the dorm room mentality extends to the workplace. So what happens to everyone else that is not lucky enough to work for one of those avant-garde companies?
First they are totally unhappy because their expectations are not met. Then they become very bitter towards a place that has a ladder they need to climb. They have been told over and over how smart they are and do not seem to grasp the concept of experience and hard work seems to baffle them.
In the era of shortcuts and user friendly someone forgot to write the manual to corporate America in a language the new generation can understand. It is almost like a company has to have a facebook profile reminding the kids that you have to get to work on time, and that they might even have to work weekends.
Mediocrity and failure were never rewarded when I was growing up. Being average was almost as bad as being a failure at times, but to some of the generations now that is actually a pretty good goal. Getting a C is not just a passing grade, it is something you are content with. Those principles do not work on the real world. An accounting mistake costing your company a couple of hundred thousand dollars is not an ups, but a pink slip. Some of the kids today actually think that would be harsh, everyone should be allowed at least one mistake… right?
How can we help this new generation? Do we create a myspace profile on how to not get fired? Do we make the next WOW or Halo 4 not playable between the hours of 9-5? How can they learn about work ethic? How can we bridge this gap?
Most of these kids grew up thinking that their parents worked way too hard and they should not have to do the same. So how do you sell them the idea that hard work is actually rewarding beyond having just a paycheck?
A new niche of motivational speakers is growing, and the surprising thing is that is not just targeted at the kids but at the employers to make their work environments not fall pray to the new job hopping workforce. I am not sure on what side I really stand just yet, but I do know that experience was something I did not understand very well until I worked for 10 years on the same field.