What Companies Are Not Getting About the New Generation of Employees

Seriously, I think the government and the private sector should consider this idea: every employee should have the freedom to choose where to report for work. I think most extroverts and those who are single would still choose the typical office set-up. Nothing’s wrong with that. I think however, that this set-up which was made the standard of the corporate or professional world is only for some type of people but not all. I honestly think it was a big mistake to let it apply to all. Just like in everything, there is no such thing as one size fits all. Introverts are but a victim of the society designed by extroverts. Perhaps due to lack of other options to meet people during the dawn of civilisation but to meet at a certain designated place face to face, we have the traditional set-up that we have now.

Times have changed, we now have options. Working from home and telecommuting should be made an option for real and as a permanent set-up with those employees who opt for it. We always envision how the future would be–where people can work from anywhere they wish to and meet only virtually with their holograms. I think we fantasize way too much about the future that’s near that we forget to see it’s actually here. I’ve been interviewed lately through video conference with the person interviewing me being eight hours away by flight with a three-hour time difference and it went so smoothly and efficiently. How much more possible would it be to meet and do day-to-day work with colleagues who probably live in the same area and city?

I see that steps getting to this are being taken using work-from-home options but the culture and mindset of people in organizations especially of people in higher office make it impossible to feel natural about it. I mean, let’s be honest, it doesn’t feel as accepted as the HR department would wish to portray when they are advertising to hire. Everyone feels guilty somehow for working from home when everybody is in the office. And there’s the notion that those who work from home aren’t really working.

To meet the need to have face-to-face discussions and effective catch-up meetings, there should be a regular everyone-goes-to-office day. Depending on the organisation, it can be once a week or fortnightly or even monthly. The point is, everybody will look forward to this day because it doesn’t happen everyday–much like a Christmas party. People will dress up and be early for this go-to-office day instead of the current reality we have where everyone goes to the office daily at least five times a week at a fixed time, most of them dragging their feet to work and some just counting the hours till it’s time to leave. This culture is counterproductive. I’d say, let those who want to go, go to the office and those who want to work from home do so.

Why do I think this will work? Because I believe that all people yearn to work. Otherwise, they won’t apply for a job. They would look for a sense of accomplishment and this revolutionary change which gives them choice would free their minds of societal constructs and limitations. So even if they are not in the office, they would finish their work and finish them well. Most HR organizations understand that not all people have the same personality and that workers from Generation Y easily get bored and have a very different style of working from their more experienced colleagues. Yet they stop at these findings. They put a lot of effort investing at building fun rooms and team buildings, out-of-towns and parties, or half-baked flexible options to work from home once a week IF and ONLY IF you reach a specific tenure working for the company–those just won’t work. If they really want to win the hearts of and retain GenY-ers, they should embrace the idea of choosing the set-up that works best for a person. Is he an out-of-office employee or an in-office buddy? Let loose, give them the freedom to work in a set-up that fits their personality and trust that they will deliver.

How do I propose to implement this? During recruitment, once a candidate has been chosen to be fit for the job, ask the person to take a personality test–depending on how much the company is willing to invest, this can be as advanced as the personality identification test used in the movies “Divergent” or “The Giver”. The test will help identify if the person will be most effective working with people around him or he can be more creative and efficient alone, in the comfort of his own home or wherever he wishes to. So then when the employee chooses, the employer will have an idea if he’s choosing something aligned with his personality type or if he’s just being lazy (which is the fear of most old school bosses). The important thing to note is that, the company must give that high degree of trust. The fact that the candidate was chosen should be assurance enough that he is a matured person–enough to be able to handle the role; make calls, arrange meetings, go to the office to meet another employee who prefers to meet in the office, go after colleagues’ outputs and coordinate for deadlines; regardless whether he chooses to be a home-based or an office-based employee. Accountability and monitoring of output and performance must be the control points of the organization to ensure discipline and performance tracking is still in place and working effectively.

Not all of us enjoy waking up early to make it to 8:30 or to satisfy the 9-5 daily grind. This is the reason most people feel like they are in the rat race. Our minds are bugged down long before we set foot into the office. We fight it deep inside but can’t do anything about it because it’s mandatory. Like prisoners, we struggle to save up enough for our own businesses or to retire young and bail ourselves out of our cages. This is why we feel like corporate slaves. We are forced to follow someone else’s mould, which are not ours. Some people would reach their optimum with this current set-up. Sure, it has its advantages. But most of us just flourish in our own environment, something which we define ourselves. This is why people who work for jobs that require the right side of the brain to work most often suddenly drop everything and start from scratch in the field of arts or in building a business that is so far from what they were trained to do. For all I know, they have always loved what they do. It wasn’t the work that they hated, it’s the set-up that was forced into them when it’s not fit for their personality that actually burned them out. For example, not all finance people wants to go to the office and sit there in front of a monitor 8 hours a day every day! I believe most people who are really good with numbers and enjoy analysing quit finance because they thought it’s not for them. The truth is, they only wanted to be able to work freely. It’s sad, but most of the real organizational talents would be lost from the corporate world by this modern day cry about following one’s passion in the arts and going freelance. Who knows whether they have always been already working on what has always been their passion (otherwise, why did they take those courses in college)? I don’t see anything wrong about encouraging a finance person to work from home–start when he wakes up maybe at 10am, drink his coffee which he had time to make for himself, work from bed or the comfort of his own balcony, beside his wife who drafts the sales contract for her next customer. If the books get closed and accounts balance by period-end, the employer and employee would find themselves in a win-win situation. What should be the problem? If this is the set-up, I don’t see a reason why the employee would leave.

The truth is, if employees only manage their own businesses, they would most likely be working like this–from home, beside the people they want to be with, asking them questions like what they think of his or her next idea randomly while working on his laptop. This is where great ideas start and are fuelled–where we are most comfortable, with people we trust and whose opinions we value. And when these employees are only working for their own personal, non-work-related projects, that set-up always proves to work. Companies should not fail to see this and harness the potential innovation and creativity this would bring.

The thing is, they all claim they are pro-change, they embrace the modern way of thinking and the technology and information age. They say they are revolutionary and love new ideas but they keep doing the same things. They haven’t changed the way they do things. At most, companies spend on seminars and workshops to understand employees but they won’t go as far. I’d tell them to just take the risk, trust the people and embrace this new era. Know the new generation and harness their uniqueness, fluid personalities and creative spirits for their businesses to succeed.

Just please, especially in this kind of weather…let us work from home.

Featured photo is from mavenly.co

My Quest for “Career Bliss”–Yes, it Exists!

a guest blog post by shopgirl of shopgirlanonymous.com

 
 

My daddy could sell ‘ice to an eskimo’, or so I was told.  Growing up, I remember my daddy was a jovial person.  He laughed more than any human I have still yet to meet, and he always donned a smile that extended across his entire face.  I would trace the deep crevices that had cratered in a sunburst pattern from his eyes at only 35.   He was my love, my hero, and held all my admiration.   I asked him to marry me over and over again.  Call it childhood instinct, but I knew our time together would be short.

 

It was a Sunday night, 5 days before my 11th birthday, when we received the tragic call; my daddy was dead.  The day before my birthday I sat nervously locked away in a back corner, hiding from his corpse displayed for the viewing pleasure of all those that had loved him as much as I did, “He died doing what made him happy,” everyone kept saying over and over and over again as they passed me. Looking back at my life, I can tell that statement became a subconscious mantra.

 

My childhood was not the happiest, and the option to do what just made you happy was not exactly conducive.  My mother was left in piles of debt with an 11 year old, 5 year old, and newborn infant.  My job was to help clean the house and take care of my brothers, I had to repress the pain and understandably step up and take my role as oldest sibling.  Each night as I lay down in my bed I could finally weep over his smile.  How much I longed for someone to laugh or smile, or to be able to genuinely laugh or smile myself, but for a time I had lost the ability. My stepfather loves to remind me that when I was teasingly asked at 13 if I wanted to marry some crush of the month my response was, “whoever I marry, I want him to make me laugh.”

 

My grandfather was founder of a bank in Houston and as I hit teenage years I would spend my summers working there. At dinner time my grandparents would build me up, “You will be a banker, there is no more accommodating field for a woman to climb to the top.” They would groom me for a position they had in mind for me at my grandfather’s bank.  Each day as I sat behind my desk my soul would fade, I would find myself venturing onto Livejournal to just write, my heart was not in my work, and I was miserable.

 

Once at the university, I finally began taking only what made me happy.  Although by my later teenage years my responsibilities for my brothers had faded, it was a difficult state of mind to shake.  It was difficult to just let go and be a child, but in the dorm, for the first time I experienced a euphoria of freedom.  I began to really laugh.  I began to take whatever classes sounded like they would make me happy, and bring great interest to me.  If  a friend said a prof they had in astronomy was amazing I signed up for it, if I read that a women’s writers teacher was the bees knees on a school review I would apply.  I took whatever sounded fun at the time with no real direction.  Finally in my Junior year, I was called into an advisors office who said I had to declare some sort of major, we looked at my plan and with my credits English junior high education was my calling.

 

I married a man at 21 that made me laugh, I was only a sophomore in college at this point.  We bought a house, and though his salary paid for our home he wanted my equal contribution and requested I get a job.  I applied at my favorite store in the mall, the one I visited every Tuesday night for inspiration and story ideas, and within weeks was their new lowly sales associate.  The man who hired me was the most jovial man I had ever met, he had that distantly familiar genuine twinkle of happy in his eyes.  He let me know that my job was to make my customers’ day.  I was inspired, my job was to bring joy to customers!

 

I was encouraged to dance, I was encouraged to laugh, I was encouraged to reach out to each and every individual and bring a smile to their faces.  I was given the opportunity to listen and to care. I was able to take the sad and mistreated and inspire or reignite a light within. I felt my mantra come to life.

 

With great consideration and pain I left my retail career (now an assistant manger) after a year to student teach where I was told not to allow laughter in my classroom. I was told to teach the children how to answer questions on a test, not to teach them the correct answers. I was told I could not encourage their own laughter and clowning. The principle would walk in if she heard laughter and tell me she could not concentrate, that we had to work silently in my classroom.

 

This was the career path I had chosen, this is what I had studied for.  But one night I sat and thought of my last conversation with my father.  I remember there was no time that I saw him with more confidence and excitement then when he was describing to me his successes as a traveling sales man.  We lived in the desert, and he sold scuba equipment which ripped him from our home for weeks at a time.  He showed me all the sales he had made, how suddenly we were going to be able pay off debt, and how someday soon we would own a red suburban (his dream car). He had such a passion and talent for sales, and so had I. For his final breath he was standing in the pacific ocean with his best friend, just off the shore of California, putting on his flipper to begin another dive.
 

I didn’t want to die doing what I felt I had to do. I was going to spread smiles and laughter, I was going to return to sales.

 
 

Featured photo is owned with all rights reserved to the guest blogger, it was taken in a trip to Grand Cayman

Haiku 02: Soldiers

Hundred feet pairs made
monotonous marching sound
in rage, off to work.

 

 

 

 

 

Featured photo edited by blogger from the www.gettyimages.com original.

The Dreamer’s Dilemma

Here’s what happens when a frustrated economist thinks about life, desperately trying to sneak into her thoughts bits and pieces of the rusty economic tools inside her brain, when all she remembers from her college Economics degree classes are the market for lemons and adverse selection. This blog is about the reality of life, the power of dreams and everything else in between.

I feel obliged to talk about my dreamer’s dilemma for this blog’s first entry. The truth is, I abandoned my dream field, Economics, 6 years ago. And though I left my heart there somewhere, I moved on. I had to. Life happened. I mean, I literally didn’t have to. But circumstances lead me astray from the original path I wanted to take. I could have worked in the field but without a master’s degree, I’d have to work for the government, which should have been perfect since I have always fancied macroeconomics, public and development economics. The only problem was, I had to make a decent living and I have also always dreamt of helping my family, with a PhP 16k monthly salary, I could only scarcely feed and buy myself some office clothes and shoes. The glaring difference of the life the corporate world was offering me then took the better of me. I jumped into the temptation. It was a sweeter lemon. Or so it seemed at that time. So being an economist became just an item on my life’s waitlist. Promising to go back to the arms of my first love with the savings I’ll earn from the job I chose, I slaved myself in the world of Corporate Finance. I neither applied any of the theories of Adam Smith nor of John Maynard Keynes. And through the years, my economist dream stayed as it was, only a dream. It was six years of gaining expertise swallowing sour lemons and monstrous Excel files.

Why do things like this happen all the time? Why do we keep doing things which were never really aligned with the original longings of our hearts? And why do we live with it day by day trapped into a constant struggle with ourselves?

Do you know how when we get out of college, we have a truckload (maybe more) of plans and ideals about how we want to live our life and make our mark into this world? The contents of that truck represents our demand. In our case, humanly complicated as we are, we have unlimited wants, all categorized into the different aspects. You demand a job that is challenging (intellectual). You demand a job that pays for your clothes or shoes or gadgets or whatever makes you feel physically better (physical). You demand a job that makes you feel respected and accepted by your family and friends (social). You demand a job that provides work-life balance  so you can enjoy the better things in life (emotional). You demand a job that would make you post an entry in Twitter or Instagram or Facebook with a hashtag that says ‘I love my job’ and fulfills your inner self for real (psychological). Is there an end to this list? I’m sure you can relate to this. That’s the nature of demand–the  unlimited wants of mankind, something we, humans, all share.

In the Philippines, we have a saying that goes Libreng Mangarap (You don’t get charged for dreaming or Dreaming is for free). This is particularly true only in the case where you want your dreams to remain as they are–just dreams. That is probably the best way to explain the concept of unconstrained demand. In the dream world, where the price for dreaming is zero, the demand will be sky-high. But should you have any plan of reaching your dreams, you would have to sacrifice and give something to achieve your dreams; whether it be time, money, or the emotional investment. When it comes to our career aspirations, the price required by the world comes in the form of resources. Our resources, no matter how rich we are, will always have a limit to them. This represents the price. As the resources you have to give up increase, your dreams narrow down from an unending list to a few ‘realistic’ items you reckon you are more likely to achieve. That’s how the demand curve works: if the price is zero, you dream on without end and as the price increases, you drop your other dreams (the other criteria you seek from a dream job). The result is a downward sloping demand curve (with your truckload of desires on the x-axis and the resources you have the ability and willingness to give up on the y-axis).

Now, the probability of your dream becoming a reality increases as you pay and sacrifice the resource requirements dreams requires. In my life’s example, had I given up on my desire to somehow provide for my family some form of financial help and my desire to be able to provide physical comforts to myself, I would have gotten a dream career to start as a junior economist. It was just that, I was not willing to pay the price it required. I cannot give up on one type of resource which that dream required–money, a higher salary. That’s how the supply of dreams work. As the you pay more of the resources and sacrifices it require more, the higher the likelihood of you getting your dream. Think of it as life giving you more of what you dream of, the more resources you give up to get it. The result is an upward sloping supply curve (with the resources you give up on the y-axis, and the amount of desires fulfilled in the x-axis).

You may have realized by now that we can easily juxtapose the two curves together because they have the same y-axis (resources) and x-axis (desires pursued/fulfilled). The result of course is the supply and demand curve sloping on opposite directions meeting at a point somewhere. That point determines where in our dreams we end up in the reality of things. Some of us can be spot on where we have ever dreamed to be, while others may be no where close. It all depends on the mechanisms of the supply and demand curves, the amount of what we can and we do sacrifice to get our life’s desires and the limited nature of what life can offer us with what we give up.

If you find yourself in a career that was never what you dreamed of to begin with. The dilemma has always been the same. Should we shift our demand curves to a higher ground where it meets the supply curve at a higher level, that is give up on whatever demand curve we have right now (our status quo, our current careers). Should we change careers? To answer this, we have to go back to the reality of the price you have to pay. Shifting the demand curve upwards means, for every item in your desires list to be fulfilled, are you now willing to give up more resources than you originally had to (say when you were a fresh grad and didn’t have to give up on a current career or a lifestyle that took you years to afford)? The answers aren’t always easy. It requires deep reflections and knowing yourself and what would satisfy you most. With this, I can start talking about utility, which simply is the quantitative concept of satisfaction. Are you sure you’re going to get more utility shifting your current demand curve? Is the incremental utility greater than the incremental cost of shifting the curve?

I’m sorry that answering life’s questions are not made any easier by my overthinking and economic analyzing. My point is, whatever modelling we use, our decisions will make up what we become. Where the demand and supply curves meet is determined by what we give up and how much we risk and work. So is it a worthy conclusion that we become what we never really dreamed of becoming because we weren’t ready to give up what our dreams required? Or were we, from the start fooling ourselves about our dreams when in reality we didn’t really desired them enough to pay its price? In which case, are we already where we have subconsciously been aspiring to be? If not, what more can we give up to slowly get there?

I’m creating this blog because I know in my heart that to be an economist is my one worthy dream (and so is becoming a designer). Many people would think me confused but I haven’t given up either on what I have achieved right now, with my corporate finance career. That being said, I am shifting my demand curve upwards where I am required more time and risks to write about life and Economics. This in the hope that, some desires I had as a young dreamer would somehow be fulfilled.