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It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere

August 30, 2010

This generational moment brought to you by Marc Donelson, learning and development strategist, The Shaw Power Group. 

During a discussion with a VP, who is probably in his upper 60s and a year or two away from retirement, he told me that one of his frustrations is that “kids these days” are always looking at the clock. When five o’clock hits, they all leave. In his day, he said that if you were working on something, you stayed late until you finished it. There were a lot of late nights but the dedication to the job was so much higher. He also mentioned that he had one divorce to show for it. He had frustration for kids today who just don’t show that same level of commitment and never stay late to finish a project.

I responded by saying that the “kids these days” are the children that watched their dads work long hours that caused many broken homes. We are the kids that were left behind when our parents divorced. Now that we are adults, we aren’t willing to sacrifice that family time. We may leave sharply at five o’clock so we can be home for dinner and family time; however, we’ll log back into work at eight o’clock after the kids go to bed and continue working. We watched our parents and decided that we didn’t want to make the same mistakes they did. At the same time, our kids now are watching us, and their general behaviors towards work are being shaped by a behavior that we are displaying. Our kids will work differently to correct a mistake that we are making, whether we see it as a mistake or not.

I believe the moment Marc shared is being experienced throughout many, many companies.  I hear it from clients and colleagues all the time.  This impact – of valuing time and life outside of work – has been shaping the workplace and workforce for a few years now, but it is not consistent throughout all companies.  Depending on how progressive a company is and if leadership ”gets it,” the embrace of different values, defining what’s important and how (and when) work should get done varies.  And it’s that variety that will have some companies winning the talent retention game while others will surely come up on the losing end.  Where does your company fall?

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One comment

  1. After over 16 years on the corporate side of college recruiting with firms like Accenture and Bank of America a switched to the campus career services office”side of the transaction” and became quite interested in this topic. In addition to what you have posted another prevalent attitude that impacts these workers is the lack of loyalty “on both sides” – the attitude is this: “if the company can let me go at any moment for any reason (plunging stock price) then why should I be loyal and dedicated?” I also found other disturbing/troubling trends and attitudes such as “if the company can lie to me whenever it wants then I have no problem lying to the company” (we found shenanigans with GPAs on resumes, transcripts, following recruiting protocols, etc) and a lot of outrage over CEO / Exec Compensation.

    Workers from other generations – Boomer / X / Y – have to realize that the millennials most likely have parents that worked long hours and were eventually shoved out anyway while the CEO took home millions upon millions each year and they are pretty bitter about that.



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