23 Feb Lack of Mentoring or… ?
A recent article from Time has been trending on LinkedIn. The article is titled “What Your Gen Z Colleagues Wish You Knew” and you can read it here: https://time.com/charter/6149918/generation-z-workers/
The article contends that “the lack of mentoring and access to seasoned management because they’re working remotely” is driving Gen Z to quit or switch jobs in large numbers. And, in typical fashion, the influencers of LinkedIn all jumped on the bandwagon to like this thesis. But: is that the whole story? I don’t think so.
The article profiles one person’s experience. While it’s a valid experience to be sure, it may not reflect the experience of an entire generation of people as a whole. In statistics, one of the first phrases you learn is, “Correlation does not imply causation.” It may very well be that a lack of mentorship and/or easy access to more experienced workers is adding fuel to the fire. But I am skeptical that it is the entire fire.
A few days ago, this article from The New York Times was trending on LinkedIn: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/15/magazine/anti-ambition-age.html. The article is titled “The Age of Anti Ambition” and the byline speaks volumes: “When 25 million people leave their jobs, it’s about more than just burnout.” I think this article points out something very, very important that anyone involved in hiring should note:
“If the tight labor market is giving low-wage workers a taste of upward mobility, a lot of office workers (or “office,” these days) seem to be thinking about our jobs more like the way many working-class people have forever. As just a job, a paycheck to take care of the bills! Not the sum total of us, not an identity.”
Now we’re getting a bit closer to the root cause of this sea-change.
As I’ve mentioned before, my European friends frequently marvel at the American work style, whether it’s being punished for closing your office door, having to sit in open-office chaos, having to be on Zoom constantly, getting calls or emails at 11pm, considering work your “family” or your “best friends.” Many of them have hobbies and a robust life OUTSIDE of work. They do not consider their coworkers or managers to be friends and family. Their work is something that they may find fulfilling, but it does not definite them to the core of who they are. In some respects, I feel like saying, “Hello, America. Welcome to the way other people in the world perceive work.”
So if you are in HR, TA, staffing, or any type of hiring role, how can you handle this?
- Acknowledge that this shift is happening. Burying your head in the sand will not help you.
- If you are still using marketing tactics like, “We’re one big FAMILY here,” consider cutting that out. Are you really a family? No. You are managers and colleagues. Be real about that.
- Make it easy to leave. I get it, I get it. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out. Sometimes an open door is a motivation to stay. Knowing that you could leave a company without fear of reprisals or a smear campaign is a more humane way of handling the resignation process. And it can make people more motivated to stay.
- Create a work environment where employees feel comfortable asking questions.
- Ensure your onboarding process doesn’t suck. Instead of having Sally Sue roll out the welcome wagon with free ink pens and a company logo water bottle, make sure the new hires KNOW how to get started appropriately and they know who to go to for questions.