With the beginning of the summer season, here we go with the usual interviews of entrepreneurs who complain about the lack of young staff and the fact that “young people don’t really want to work”. What are these allegations based on? And most importantly, what do the new generations have to say about this?
From celebrities to the unknown, entrepreneurs of any business branch find it difficult to hire staff and retain people. We already talked about the “great resignation” issue that the pandemic pushed forward, with more and more people unwilling to compromise with a work life that doesn’t contemplate specific career goals or time for our private life.
The outcome of this great transition is a profoundly sensible vision concerning the individual’s role in a company and their own expectations which are definitely more oriented to the educational journey and curricular experiences made. Young people find themselves in front of a wide choice of accessible schools and universities and it naturally becomes unlikely for them to choose a path that’s unappealing to them, especially when older generations keep on requiring years of experience for entry-level positions.
Statements like these often begin with “when I was your age I worked 10 hours a day without complaining about the pay and skipped vacations”. So what comes to mind quite straightforwardly is: “and was that ok?”. The fact that in the past things were done differently doesn’t mean they were right or that they have some kind of applicational validity today. Working without knowing the terms was not ok in 1880 nor in 1980 and it is actually a big improvement that young people have all the cognitive tools to spot undignified and unlawful working conditions.
There shouldn’t be anything wrong in saying “no” to a job that features too flexible working hours, 6-months-long contracts with no perspective, non-existing days off and black labour (with a disgraceful 70% of irregularity rate in the hospitality industry only according to the Italian National Working Inspection Institute). Yet, many stomp their feet because young people dare to ask how much they will be paid, while we rarely talk about the kind of offering that was put on the table.
What entrepreneurs should understand is that a toxic narrative not only fires up stereotypes but it angers the perception young generations have of the older ones, making them look like aliens and robots from a very strange planet. Saying that young people don’t want to work is in itself the least entrepreneurial thing to say; a real leader must be able to look at the future while caring about the people who help them make this future come true. Dear entrepreneurs, young people want to work, they just want a job to believe in, something able to deliver a goal with a viable path to pursue.