15 June 2014

Generation gap: Old-school vs. present-day young workers

Before opening my own coffee shop, I was for 19 years a nine-to-five... no, make that eight-to-eight wage-earner.  Not that my boss was a perverted slave driver - quite the contrary; the choice to regularly work over and beyond my contracted hours was purely my own.  No one forced me to.  After all, hard work has never killed anyone and I quickly realised early on in my working life that, at the end of the day, nobody is accountable for my output, my career progression, my future, my life but myself.

No, no one could stop me - not even at gunpoint - from churning out good, quality outputs at work when I was younger.  Whether I liked it or not, I knew had a job to do and, without reminding, was constantly cognisant of the importance of protecting the company's interests.  I'd like to believe that I, like most of my old-school peers, was a good employee.

But how times and attitudes have changed.  Truth is, many of today's young do not - or rather, choose not to - work hard.  Eight hours of work each day is too long, I've personally heard some say.  From my experience, I also find that overall perseverance and resilience levels - their toughness, so to speak - have dropped significantly compared to us 40- to 60-somethings when we were their age.

I find it strange really; young as they are, they seem to lose interest too quickly, tire too easily, fall sick too frequently and throw in the towel too willingly - without even realising (or wanting to realise) that NOW is the time for them to lay a foundation for a better life, a better future.  They must realise - or at least begin to realise - by their early-twenties that it pays far more richly for them to finish off that inventory check at the office than it does to rush home to catch the season finale of "Glee" or attend an aunt's housewarming.

Indeed, the situation has become so widespread and prevalent it's sad.  From hotel concierges to restaurant waiters to salespeople to civil servants, hairdressers, aircraft engineers, bankers, remisiers.... hell, even police personnel; many of the younger ones just can't seem to perform up to mark, I've been told by superiors and employers alike.

Now, I'm not here to indiscriminately write off every human being born from the 90's onwards as negative-contributing workers, nor am I saying that they're all sub-standard employees (indeed I've had the pleasure of working with some really good young people over the years), but believe me when I say you'd be pretty darn hard-pressed to find those with "the right stuff" - in any line - nowadays.

But there is hope.  Just today, three twenty-somethings were talking in my coffee shop about their prospects of securing good internships in 2016 - their final year in college.  Their attitude was first-class; they spoke enthusiastically of their determination to do well in university first and foremost, then went on about wanting to prove themselves during their upcoming internships.  "It's going to be long hours but that's life", the skinny one said.  More encouragingly, one of his friends urged and encouraged him to prove it to his parents and peers.  This friend then spoke of himself, "Share with us, how do you manage to attend classes during the day, work nights at the dairy and still manage to finish your assignments on time?"

Whether or not this was a sign of three young people earnestly wanting to improve and work hard for a better future, only time will tell.  One thing's for sure, they've demonstrated to me an early determination to excel in their education and careers - something I've not seen in people their age in a long, long time.  I truly hope there will be more like them - for the sake of this country's future or, for that matter, that of the world.

(Photo courtesy of Google Images)

What is your opinion on what I've just written?  Generally speaking, how do you find working with today's young people?  Do share.

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