I spend a lot of time ranting about how messed up corporate America is, how Human Resources professionals unfortunately contribute to that messed-up-edness, and what it is we should all being doing to straighten it out. And while I’m in fact vain enough to think I have all the answers, I’m not naïve enough to think you (always) agree with them. I also spend a lot of time listening to and trying to decipher what it is our employees want from us (their employers). In the 20 some odd years I’ve been doing this, most of what we hear hasn’t really changed. The way it’s positioned and packaged may be different, but it’s all the same stuff at its root.
As a matter of principle, I believe in the healthy friction between employer and employee. Labor negotiations toward a more “fair” workplace are woven into our very fabric. I get that. I’ve dedicated my career to finding the right balance between what’s right for the business and what’s right for its employees…and, no, those two things aren’t always the same. So with all of that in mind, I am afforded some reasonable opportunity to make the following statement to today’s workforce:
Shut the hell up!
I read an article in The Globe and Mail (one of Canada’s most heavily circulated newspapers) this week entitled “Inside the Entitlement Generation” that really stoked my fire. I came across it as a direct result of an inkling I’ve been wrestling with of late: are all these efforts we go through as HR professionals to strengthen employee engagement, to create an environment where our best and brightest can flourish, and to generally provide a lasting career experience for our people tantamount to running on a treadmill with roller skates? It’s feeling more and more like that to me. I mean, we cannot catch a freakin’ break…it is always something with these employees.
“Ken Coates sat in on a recent presentation to executives of some of Canada’s biggest companies. It reviewed the results of a massive survey of university students about their work expectations. The survey found that work/life balance and vacation time ranked extremely high on their wish list. They also expected high salaries and quick promotions. On average, they expected a starting salary of $53,000 a year.” Would you like fries with that too? How about we fund your retirement from age 55 till you die at the ripe old age of 105? What about free childcare and extensive telecommuting allowances? What if we paid for your healthcare dollar for dollar?
“At the end of the presentation, a senior executive said: ‘If what you say is true, then we cannot succeed as a company in Canada.’” Thank you very much – you speak on behalf of civilized nations throughout this world. Seriously, where do we draw the line between nurturing our employees and coddling them? What’s the right balance between acknowledging an employee for standing up for what they believe in and knocking them over the head because “what they believe in” is a far-flung-fantasy? At what point can an organization say “enough already!” I’m here to suggest that time is drawing near…
I got news for you, Entitlement Generation…no, all Generations: you get a paycheck for what you do. We can get others to do what you do…we really can. Yes, it’s disruptive when you leave, but you’re going to leave some day anyway. You’re really not “all that.” And I’m sick of running around trying to figure out how to make you happy because it is unlikely you’ll ever really get there. So save us all the time, money, and frustration; put your head down and get to work. And if you don’t like it, go somewhere else.
Maybe it’s time we spend less time worrying about our employees who aren’t thrilled with their jobs and spend a lot more time hiring employees who would be thrilled to have one!
Image Credit: A Life She Loved