I was asked for an opinion on the difference between today’s workforce and the workforce of 10 and 20 years ago. While it would be easy to roll my eyes and pigeonhole groups as gen x-y-z, I don’t think that’s overly helpful or accurate. From experience, I think there are five major differences which are largely the product of social shifts and trends.
I believe more people in today’s workforce are less confident than workforces past. From the inability to make eye contact, to the reaction of receiving constructive feedback, to being generally risk averse. I attribute this characteristic to the over protective / over parenting / no kid left behind mentality. Unfortunately, in the workforce people are and do get left behind and it’s difficult to develop confidence if you’re not exposing yourself to, and overcoming adversity early and often.
I could / should use a word that’s not as harsh, but it would mean the same thing. It stands to reason that the inability to think independently (combined with a lack of confidence) affects competence. I attribute this to a system where everything has been laid out for young people, many of whom haven’t been predisposed to problem solving. This stifles the need to think and do things on ones own and when we see them in the workforce (on their own), there’s a re-programming that has to happen to put their own pieces in order to achieve success.
I’m not a fan of the new style of communication for the following reasons; it’s depersonalized, largely ineffective and it does not afford the skill building traits needed to be confident or competent in face to face environments, which is the essence of human / business interaction. I attribute this to a social need to continue to make things quick and easy. Some things, are not meant to be quick and easy and a successful career / business are two of those things. New style communication is very effective for follow-up and broad spamming, but it lacks the intimacy and intricacy required from the foundations of service based businesses.
There can be little doubt that today’s workforce are consumers. VERY EASILY INFLUENCED by the latest and greatest gadgets, they will trust brand names more than they will trust accomplished business mentors with common sense advice. I attribute this to wickedly smart marketing companies who have figured out consumers will buy anything that provides a forum to promote self and make self’s life better, cooler or easier. Intuitively, this would satisfy the deficits left by 1, 2 and 3 above. The challenge comes when the workforce consumes beyond their investment capabilities… and then turns to their employers to narrow their debt-ficit. This would not be something done 10 or 20 years ago with the frequency with which it is today.
Today’s buzzword (a product of #4), is work / life balance. This social pendulum has swung so far to the right, we’re now reforming sick days because people have abused the system accordingly. Where there seemed to be an adequate amount of pride in the notion of working smart and hard now… for later, this workforce seems to want big pay now at entry levels followed by more pay for less productivity later. I attribute this again to wickedly smart marketing companies telling people what they want to hear… to buy their products and our insatiable appetite to be instantly gratified at every turn. It’s like our sole purpose in life is to be entertained. And we love it, until we find ourselves broke or under a mountain of debt later on… and then hate it.
Like everything, if we’re unable to re-establish a REAListic balance across the 5 C’s, we’ll continue to show the results of our disconnected engagement and the North American economy will become a reflection of it’s new workforce.
Wait a minute… it already is!
Scott Maxwell on Flickr Some Rights Reserved
First published at swimupstream
Guest Author Bio
Matt Young has spent 25 years advocating preventative public and private healthcare. A UBC Kinesiology graduate, Matt co-founded Innovative Fitness in 1995 and helped build the business from a single member to a national franchise chain. In 2009, Matt also co-founded the 60 Minute Kidsclub charity to improve the physical literacy of Canadian children from 5-12 years old. He has published seven books, helped raise a staggering 5.9M dollars for various charities and holds a Guinness World Record for the fastest bike relay across Canada. For his accomplishments, Matt has been recognized as a Top 40 under 40 Vancouver and Canadian award winner.