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Young workers today follow a new set of rules, it’s on you learn them

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(Photo: shaunl/ iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)
(Photo: shaunl/ iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)
(Photo: shaunl/ iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)
(Photo: shaunl/ iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

If I asked you to describe today’s typical young worker with one word, what word comes to mind? Think about it for a minute. For many of you, it was lazy, entitled, spoiled or snowflake. 

In my experience, managers are often frustrated by today’s workforce because they find this younger generation of workers ill-prepared for full-time, steady work. Of course, this is not true of all younger workers. There are plenty of examples where younger workers are absolute rock stars. But something is going on here, and managers would do well to understand what it is.  

Stop with the blame game

The first challenge to overcome is to avoid placing blame. There is plenty of blame to go around, but this won’t solve the problem. Instead, managers would do well to focus on the opportunity before them to take these young workers and develop them into productive citizens for their own sake, for your benefit and for the benefit of society in general.  

The reality is today’s workers are often not prepared for life as an adult. Again, avoid placing blame. A young adult that cannot keep his or her word, show up for an interview or come to work every day will struggle in life and/or become a burden to society. The burden unfortunately falls on the employer to develop the mindset and skills to help today’s younger workers. We can focus on placing blame or focus on making a difference.  

Employers who embrace the needs and expectations of today’s younger workforce will become the desired workplaces. Managers need to understand that the rules from 10 or 20 years ago have all changed. 

Young workers have options

Today’s young workers will not endure bad management practices that my generation tolerated — because they don’t need to. They have options that my generation never dreamed of. They don’t need you or your job. What they need and desire is an opportunity to develop themselves, learn and grow. 

This is the new road map, with all new rules.

Most businesses are still owned by Baby Boomers. As these owners seek to exit their businesses, one of their biggest challenges is having a reliable workforce. Whether the exit involves a generational handoff or a sale, it will be very difficult to optimize this exit without a viable recruiting and management system that embraces the needs and expectations of a younger workforce. I believe this is one of the most consequential investments a business owner can make today.  

So as you look ahead to 2023, I would ask you to consider what you are doing to invest in this area. And I would ask you to consider the impact that recruitment and retention have on the value of your business and its viability, especially if an exit is in your future plans.   

Now go forth.  

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