Snowflakes And The Workplace

I have to say, some days are better than others for reading materials. One editorialist this morning said that the most dangerous place to be is between Chuck Schumer and a T.V. camera. I thought that was hilarious. The only problem with this assumption, is its true for all politicians. I’ve had friends with political ambitions and they couldn’t wait to get in front of people. I decided I didn’t want to spend too much time on that subject. Now, I’d like to give the reason for the title of today’s offering

I’ve chosen the title for this blog, that will probably be offensive to some of my readers, because of what individuals who are working for a large company, one that I retired from, have said about younger workers that they are dealing with. They have described them as lazy and lacking resilience. This may be too generalized, but I do think there is a problem with this younger generation. They don’t want to work. So, when I read an editorial this morning about how younger workers feel lonely at the office, I came to the conclusion that what we teach the younger people in higher education just may not be conducive to their ability to perform in a job. Its ok, you can say “ok boomer.”

According to Rachel Feintzeig, “more than 80% of employed members of Generation Z – many of whom are just entering the workforce – and 69% of employed millennials are lonely.” This loneliness includes feeling alienated from co-workers, emotional distance from colleagues, and a sense of emptiness while “hiding their true selves.” According to Feintzeig Gen-Z includes workers who are 18 to 22 and millennials who are 23 to 37 years old. Another interesting tidbit is both Gen-Z and millennials have a close friend at work, “yet they find their jobs less meaningful and feel more friction between their values and those of their companies.”

Feintzeig focuses on communication styles as the main cause for young people’s sense of loneliness. These workers “tend to shun phone calls and in-person conversations – the kinds of interactions that lead to real connections.” These folks spend a lot of time on social media, which could be a huge part of this issue. Another possible cause is remote assignments. “Telecommuting has become a hot benefit,” which surveyors have found to impact workers more negatively when it comes to relationships. These workers have found their jobs to be less meaningful. It seems the reasons this article give are good, but I think there is more. I think these young people are being set up by higher education. They are told in college they must question and resist authority, that everyone has a voice, and capitalism is evil. I think when they get in the real world, they see that most people don’t think this way. It sets up a dissonance for them.

One thing I like about teaching business in higher education is I can tell young people what to expect when they get in the workplace. I remember a few years ago I had a young student who was very talented. He led our ENACTUS team to its best performance when competing against other colleges and universities. We finished in the top twenty in the nation. Not bad for a very small college.

I used to tell him that companies are not waiting for him to show up. In fact, I would tell him, that when you become a manager and manage a bunch of old farts, they are going to tear you up. I told him he will need to figure out how to earn their respect, because they won’t give it just because you are a young hotshot. We had breakfast several years after his graduation and he told me I was right. I think I helped prepare him for his future career.

I remember being that young person thinking I knew everything. Now I am an old person that has been around the sun a few times. I remember a boss telling me during a training class that the instructor of that class had probably forgotten more that I knew about the training subject. Yep, he put me in my place. But I never felt isolated or lonely during my career. I was always moving forward, and never thought the company owed me anything other than what we agreed to regarding pay and benefits. Colleges and Universities today, in my opinion, are setting students up for a fall when they get in the workplace.

Colleges and universities for the most part all go to the same well for students. They try to make prospective students feel welcomed and special. This continues all through the student’s educational tenure. So, when the student graduates and they head out into the real world, they can be somewhat dismayed when they learn that no one is waiting for little Susie or Johnnie to show up in the workplace. When I went through orientation at Boeing, April 5, 1977 (I was 26 years old), the human resource people told me there were 1,000 people that wanted my job. Therefore, if I did not like anything about working there, don’t let the door hit me in the butt on the way out. This is the workplace these young adventurers are entering.

I remember one of the things I learned when working my first real job was the workplace is not a democracy. In other words, my bosses didn’t like being challenged and forget about resisting authority in the workplace they call that insubordination, which is an offense that gets you fired. In politics all of us may have a voice, but in the workplace that is not the case.  When little Johnnie, or little Susie, makes a demand that they should have a say in how the department is run, they will be told in no uncertain terms to get back to work. There are policies and procedures created by the company, and little Nancy just needs to accept it.

In the workplace people like to make money. This is a part of the capitalist system. People in the workplace don’t care what your Humanities professor said about the evils of capitalism. They want to work, make money, have good healthcare, so they can take care of their families. It is that simple. They don’t want anything to do with Karl Marx, or what Professor Engels says about socialism. So, no matter what utopia you hear about in college, it is different in the real world. The sooner you realize this and give up on some of the things you were told, the sooner you will feel a part of the community of workers which you find yourself. I know there is some student support organization right now that is calling me the devil for writing this, but the fact is young people need to hear the truth. The world is not waiting for you; nso, you can’t do everything you set your mind too; and social media is not reality. Stop being a snowflake, and start being a part of the team. Learn how to work with others, take direction, and work hard to make some money so you can move out of your parent’s basement.

And that is my thought for the day!



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