One of my favorite topics, as you may have guessed, is office culture. More specifically, what we as employers should be doing to build businesses where mutual respect is evident. I also believe that building business cultures based upon equity, respect, trust, diversity and clarity is yet another example in which doing the right thing is also the best business decision. All of these discussions fall into the larger conversation about things like employer expectations, work/life balance and even mental health.
It would seem, however, that not everyone believes that “the way we’ve always done it” is a bad thing, even if it spawns job burnout or a toxic workplace. Now, spurred on by unusually strong employment levels, the aftermath of a WFH revolution during the pandemic and a level of public introspection on things like mental health, work/life balance and the general management/labor relationship, we seem to be taking a very hard look at the way people work, and the way they’re treated at work. Otherwise, things like “rage applying,” “quiet firing” and “quiet quitting” wouldn’t be in the mainstream discussion.
Now, “bare minimum Monday” is emerging on center stage, spurring the same old generational debate about the perils of WFH and trusting employees. More than a few have waved off this conversation as something akin to the folly of youth or parenting gone wrong. But why is it that just about every generation, as it ages, looks down its collective nose at the up and coming younger generation and declares the latter to be “lazy?”
If anything, the science increasingly leans toward the theory that employers get diminishing returns (and, possibly, permanent damage to their cultures and brands) the more they push employees to work more days and longer hours, eschewing otherwise earned vacation and PTO. And yet, even as the evidence mounts that the five (or six…or seven) day work week that became commonplace at a time when Pinkertons were breaking up strikes belongs in the same museum as the rest of the early Industrial Revolution, things like “facetime” (not the Apple app) and burnout culture are still applauded by more than a few business owners and executives.
I strongly believe that a healthy workplace boils down to trust and respect from all sides. Unfortunately, there are still way too many employers (and not just in our industry) who prefer micro management to delegation; time behind the desk to generous PTO; and internal pressure/competition among employees to a supportive environment built upon cooperation and teamwork. Many of these owners mangle the true meaning of words like “accountability,” and believe that the promise of a big bonus, whether it’s actually attainable or not, will spur limitless productivity and positive results.
What’s that they say about the definition of insanity?
It’s almost amusing to me that as more and more members of Generation Z or even “late Millennials” start to find their voices in the business world, it’s not just the Baby Boomers huffing and puffing about a “lazy” and “entitled” youth unwilling to pay its dues. I’m even hearing Gen Xers and older Millennials piling on as well!
Is it that they’re finally realizing the wisdom of what their parents and grandparents learned? Or, as I believe, are they coming to accept the excuses and rationalizations the “haves” have always used to exploit the talents and energy of younger generations?
It will be quite interesting to see how the workplace/work expectations/office culture debate, in all of its forms and permutations, shakes out.
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