When I used to earn a living by teaching in public school, I could always tell when it was time for a teacher to retire. Certain experienced teachers began to complain about the kids. How the kids didn’t seem to annoy them years ago, but “today the kids are different.” I surmised that it wasn’t so much that the kids had changed, but the teachers were ready to turn the page on their careers whether they realized it or not.
Today I see something similar being writ large, except the object of the Baby Boomer’s dismay is the Millennial generation – people between the ages of 25-40. It is of course impossible to accurately characterize an entire cohort of people, however, in my discussions with professionals and business owners, they claim Millennials are different than they were at that age – they have a different work ethic and different motivations.
Millennials are characterized as being unwilling to put their job, or the pursuit of the almighty dollar, above all else in their lives. They are seeking a better, some would say healthier, balance in their lives between their work and other priorities. They have seen the impact of job stress on their parent’s marriages and health; the missed birthdays and school concerts, and wonder whether there is a better way.
Their search for a better work/life balance should not be interpreted as a lack of commitment to their job or profession. Instead of viewing them with a jaundiced eye, perhaps we should take a step back to ponder whether we can still meet the needs of our clients, patients, and customers in a way that is more humane to all of us.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is a realization that none of us is guaranteed a long and healthy life. Finding the right balance between staying “on top of our game” and staying in touch with our relationships has never been more of an imperative than it is today.
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