There Is No Spoon: New Generations Bend the Perspective of What Work Ethic Really Means

Many have written and debated the generational workforce gaps that seem to create contemporary misperceptions, org chart rivalries, and, in some cases, deep cultural divides within growing organizations today. One of the key ways to attracting and keeping great talent is by recognizing those differences within your company then fostering relationships that will help challenge team members to working closer together. Just like in the movie The Matrix, companies must “realize the truth” – there is little difference between generational excellence, just a different perspective.

In My Day…

You may often hear complaints from investors or even the C-suite how the new “Millennial” or “Gen-X” employees “just don’t have the work ethic like we used to.” I like to respond with a word of caution: let’s be careful not to over-romanticize the effort of the corporate citizens that have worked before us. I have heard the plethora of stories from my grandfather about the “martini lunches,” “boondoggles,” and the “cigar-filled, back room dinners” as evidence to a different historical frame of reference. Despite my digression, something has changed. Organizations now struggle with new structures where workers are remote, project accelerated by outsourcing and functions can be highly specialized.

Back To The Future

The shift in mentality is all dependent on “perspective.” The Millennials and the Gen X’ers are a workforce that has adopted and adapted to more technology changes than any generation before it. It’s time to put the shoe on the other foot and think about the world from their frame of reference:

  • Location is not relevant. With the amount of devices and accessibility, they can work from anywhere at any time.
  • Money isn’t the only thing that puts food on the table. They want to be a part of something special and help grow something more dynamic.
  • Instant and accessible are now requirements. They make quicker decisions and are more likely to adopt change due to having data and information in the blink of an eye.
  • It’s a faster changing landscape. They understand that to stay on top, hopping on board for the next great opportunity, technology shift, or industry game-changer is more important than tenure.
  • Innovation and sharing of ideas are the roots to success. They want praise for taking initiative and encouragement for idea generation.

This new workforce will bring with them the concepts of “mobilize,” “socialize,” and “problem-solving” mentality to a different scale. No longer does the 8-5 work schedule, office politics, or legacy excuses of why something can’t be done apply to them. They want to make a difference, share in the innovation, and be recognized for their contribution. They are about the mission, vision, and creativity. And don’t those ideals sound quite similar to the “work ethic” of our forefathers? Sure, they want to make it easier, quicker, and transparent – which is one reason you can read this blog on your iPhone.