I have a good friend that works in law firm, John. Recently, John and I got together for drinks and discussed recent college graduates in the workplace. We deduced that the recent breed of workplace newcomers suffers from laziness couples with an extreme sense of entitlement. Perhaps it is because they are the first generation of internet users that are accustomed to the instant gratification present-day technology provides. They have TV “on demand” and the ability to access information with the click of a button. At their age, they never knew life without the ease of cell phones. Are they missing the hustle gene?
On the brink of thirty, we have been upstanding members of the workforce for about eight years. John is a senior paralegal at his firm and works on a team of five. The team has one administrative assistant dedicated to all five paralegals, Jen. John was a part of the interview and hiring process that brought Jen on board the team. In the interview, she came off as intelligent and eager to start work in this dismal economy. Jen was thrilled to have a job offer and promised to impress the team with her work ethic.
Fast-forward five months. Jen was rolling into the office at 9:15am, no phone calls, no warning just showing up late. John approached her about the schedule and politely reminded her that the workday began at 9:00am. Jen corrected her habit for about two weeks and then went back to coming and going at her leisure. John is the senior person on is team but he is not Jen’s manager so he does not have the capability to write her up. He brought the situation to his boss but his boss did not see it as a high priority issue.
Meanwhile, John would drop work off for Jen to complete by the end of the day. Jen would protest and claim that another team member gave her tasks for the same day. She feigned that she was overwhelmed and pushed the work back on John. One day, out of curiosity, John approached his other teammate to find out which project was taking up most of Jen’s time. The other teammate told John that he had not given anything to Jen in weeks. Last time he tried to give her something to work on, she claimed that she was helping John. Therefore, Jen was giving everyone the run-around. She would pawn off assignments by lying about her current workload.
Additionally, John sat in earshot of Jen. He could hear her calling friends and family; she was chatting the day away. Facebook updates and texting took up a large majority of the workday. Again, he brought the facts to the higher ups. They note the feedback but it seemed that Jen never faced any consequences. Of course, John’s hope is that one day Jen is exposed to someone who has the power to rectify that situation. Until that time, he could spend evenings in the bar venting to me about his lack of a true assistant.
I have heard many variations on a theme of this story. The other day a recent college grad I know explained that she kept a litany of excuses handy when in college. She used them to email professors to get deadline extension for her courses. I asked her if she ever went to the professor in person to ask for an extension. She assured me email had better results as it was easier to lie about one’s situation and whereabouts under the cover of an email.
Young people out of college in this economy should be jumping at a chance to prove themselves in the work place. Instead, they display of sense of entitlement and have no interest in ownership and responsibility. I know that there are exceptions but these lazy people slip through the cracks and beat the system. After all, Jen is still collecting her paycheck and barely has to do anything to earn it.
I guess that every generation of jaded thirty-somethings looks to the younger generation and complains that work ethic just ain’t what it used to be. The good old days were before cell phones, text messages and dishonest emails. Perhaps John and I are jealous old hags who resent our professional lives and live to complain about those who “have it easier”. It is possible that I spent my adulthood complaining about my parents and teachers so now I’ll spend my adulthood complaining about those damn kids? Maybe this rant is a right of passage…does my vent mean I am getting…GASP….OLD?
Back to Mr. Right tomorrow.