With all of the talk about employee engagement lately, you have to wonder if this has always been a problem or if this is a relatively new development cooked up by the Gallup Organization. Growing up, the only time I heard my parents talk about “engagement” was when one of our crazy relatives was getting married again.
I do remember very vividly about how they complained about their managers though.
“Stupid” and “idiot” were the most common adjectives, I believe.
Yet, I think they believed in what they did. So, getting up and going to work was not a problem. Also, I think money was the focus of work, and living your life outside of work was more important. There was a clear line of definition.
You see, they are Generation V (pre-Baby Boomer). Their goal was to have a better life than their parents (who lived the Great Depression – Generation U), and to make sure their kids had a better life than they did. Work was just a tool; not a life. For them, work didn’t define who you were as a person. Character and other stuff was what defined you.
Somewhere (I don’t know if it was Generation W, X, or Y), the lines blurred. Your work became part, mostly, or totally a definition of who you were as a person. Happiness derived from what you did in the first third of your waking hours; not the last third.
It’s kind of interesting to me how my Gen Y children identify their grandparents partly by the work they did.
I’d say my folks were “engaged” in their work because they felt it was a duty; not a love. It was a part of a contract you made. The organization paid you money, and in return you gave it your all. Obviously, if you didn’t like what you were doing, you should leave. But, if you were going to stay, you were going to give it 100%. When you get home, you can bitch about it all you want. The fact was, though, the organization was under no obligation to make your work more “engaging.” If they did, it was a bonus. Just don’t expect it.
Are Generations W, X, and Y spoiled? We expect our employers to be givers of fulfillment; not just salary, insurance, and retirement. Maybe we expect too much. Maybe, the way capitalism was originally thought out, we’re supposed to leave if we don’t like it: Go start our own business, go retrain ourselves, or go down the street and work for the other guy/gal.
Maybe, we’re supposed to live our lives outside of work – not inside.
Do you think we’re spoiled? Or, do you think the worker is just evolving and trying to get he or she deserves? I’d appreciate your feedback.