Are We Entitled?

I’ve been wracking my brain for a couple of weeks now to come up with something that’s not the usual Grammar Nazi rant for my blog post. Most of the conversations I’ve had with fellow Flumers have been about company culture- not necessarily only ours here at Flume- and how- if at all- employer and employee perspectives can help one another.

I made a comment- possibly more than one- along the lines that millennials are entitled and fickle, and thought myself very clever in the moment. I had no idea that Time Magazine, for example, had actually published a piece on the subject as much as three years ago, or that this has been an ongoing discussion online for some time. I was simply speaking from my own, admittedly limited, perspective and observations.

I won’t bore you with too much detail but, basically, I made the assertion on the back of the following observations:

– The number of people I’d seen changing jobs at the drop of a hat (or the first hint of a bigger pay cheque) just within the past year.

– The level of expectation among the ‘rank and file’ with regard to provision by management of perks like team lunches, bonuses, year-end parties and other entertaining events that have historically been incentives rather than common practice.

– The apparency that many people think that simply showing up at the office every day and being there for the requisite number of hours is enough.

Of course, these are broad generalisations and by no means am I saying that we’re all a bunch of blood-sucking timewasters. What I am saying is that there seems to be a much higher level of demand from employees than there was not too long ago. (I may have been living under a rock for a while, folks.)

All of that said, I have to ask myself how accurate these observations really are in a broader historical context.

According to various Google search results, Millennials, the erstwhile Generation Y, are loosely defined as having been born between 1981 and 1997.

I happened upon this handy little infographic while I was looking for stuff online to support or refute my observations above:

What stands out for me here are the following key facts:

– The group in question makes up, or will make up, the majority of the world’s workforce in the coming decade, meaning that most working people are, or will be, millennials for the duration of my foreseeable career. In fact, I happen to be a millennial, too.

– Much the same as they did in years gone by, the workforce’s greatest demands remain consistent: Better pay, flexible hours and decent promotion prospects.

– This is really no different from what the worker bees of the 1970s and 1980s were clamouring for, except back then, it was simply called ‘work-life balance.’

All of this begs the question: Should those entering the working world be falling in with the old status quo, or should the working world be shifting its perceptions and expectations?

My opinion, for what it’s worth, is simply that whether you’re an employer or an employee, it’s the delivery of deliverables that makes the world go round and the money come in. Perhaps we should focus less on the perceived entitlement of one group and the unreasonable expectations of the other, and instead recognise that no organisation survives when its parts- i.e. its people- cannot function as a cohesive whole, whose production, marketing, and delivery of a valuable final product keep the wheels turning. And I reckon the key to everyone’s attainment of that elusive work-life balance lies in the ability to establish the mechanisms whereby such a system can be achieved.

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