By Aiman Attar
It seems like employees today don’t have the same work ethic as in days gone by.
Is this true or is it media hype? I’ve seen many, many articles decrying the state of work and productivity, with the blame being squarely placed on the backs of the entitled, bratty, privileged, spoiled group known as millennials. But is that a fair assessment of a whole generation? Sometimes, it is.
Like all generalizations, there are exceptions, so smearing an entire group with the same tainted brush is extreme. Workers in generations past had different ways of wasting time: chatting around the water cooler, going outside for a quick smoke and so on. Today’s latest generation of workers waste time in new and innovative ways: SnapChat and Instagram top the list! That said, according to LinkedIn’s 2015 Talent Trends Report, millennials will comprise 50 per cent of the workforce by the time 2020 rolls around.”
But is it worse having to manage the younger generations of whippersnappers? Sometimes, it is.
The latest generation of workers was raised in a time when parents felt the need to entertain their kids every hour of every day. Time was scheduled from morning to night and most kids never had the opportunity to simply be bored.
When those young people hit the workplace, companies found that they had to do more to keep them engaged while at work. They introduced casual dress workplaces with pool tables, snacks, nap pods, flexible hours, work from home options and so on.
This is where the “smearing with the same brush” notion becomes a little murkier. Three in four employees say they’re losing time at work playing on their smartphones. You must consider that the 83 per cent of workers who have smartphones and use them during the workday aren’t all millennials.
Older employees will often have smartphones to use in the course of business, but they haven’t attached the phone to themselves as an extra organ. They’re not using them all the live-long day to send text messages to friends. Therein lies the difference!
Companies have had to do a lot more to attract millennials in the first place, which has created stress for many organizations:
- Job offers have to be concise and tight, not a vague description of duties;
- Flexible work time is a must;
- Millennials are looking for more than money: they want that flexibility, telecommuting options, more vacation and in general, a better work/life balance;
- They want to be able to use social media without restrictions, as this is how they communicate;
- They’re not interested in a rigorous, multi-level hiring process with no feedback at the end of it.
It’s a long list of “demands” considering that most workers from that generation are untested and, in general, lacking in skills. There is something to be said for hiring someone who has potential; they can be taught the skills they’ll need. But untested potential doesn’t feel like solid ground to be making a lot of demands on, does it?
In creative environments that aren’t always client facing, it’s fine to embrace some of the demands and requirements of this latest generation, but you can’t run a retail, corporate or medical office with these expectations.
Can you imagine a nurse texting while patients stood waiting, or liking images while someone was having a baby?
Can you imagine the cashier at a grocery store slowing down the cash line so she can text her new crush?
Can you imagine a real estate assistant posting home staging fails on Instagram, with the address included?
Bottom line: can you imagine paying someone eight hours a day for only five hours of productivity, whether they’re millennials, gen-X or Y? Probably not.
The goal in hiring is to weed out those with a poor work ethic from those who will strive to improve, to flush out the timewasters in favour of the task doers. With millennials becoming more prevalent on the work stage, a fact that isn’t going to change any time soon, it’s getting harder to distinguish a diamond in the rough from a piece of coal.