What We Learned From Previous Generations About Work
When you are born you have no preconceived notions of anything. In fact, I think the only thing that you know is that you know nothing. Literally, everything is new. Your skin has new sensations, your emotions are raw, your feelings are incredibly intense, and your intuition is heightened. Your brain, while it was learning, absorbing, and functioning inside your mom's belly, is now on hyperdrive with information overload. It isn’t until your parents, your community, and your environment exposes you to certain realities that make you form any set of norms, expectations, sense of morality, and other mindsets.
Socially, we wonder why terms like racism, bigotry, sexism, religious warfare and other really crappy things that human beings do to ourselves are still real experiences. Simply put - they are all learned - generational hatred, misinformation, and simple baseless fear all let these things perpetuate year over year generation to generation. After all, you only know what you know. What does this have to do with our working world? A lot. You learn what to accept, tolerate, what processes to follow, what perceptions are of success, what work is and is not, all from the generations before you.
What We Learned From Our Parents About Work
If you are Generation X, you learned from your Boomer parents the rise of corporate process and empires. Who learned from their Traditionalist parents. This is of course unless your parents are Parrot Heads, Woodstockers, or civil rights rebels, then you probably live a life encouraged by questioning norms and not following the process if it didn’t make sense.
From 1950 - 1980 corporate process looks like this: Use the want ads to search for a job. Only apply for jobs that you know you can do. Tell the truth on a resume formatted to English style with .5 margins. Print out copies of your resume on resume specific paper. Hand-deliver or mail your resume in. A phone call from an administrative assistant started the interview process. Then get hired and work for the same company for 30 years.
Then something happens from 1980-2000. Those corporations that spent the previous 40 plus years establishing a process, seeking conformity, demanding high productivity, creating the carrot of promotions, raises, company stock options started to go sideways. Many major corporations claimed bankruptcy, their leaders indicted for fraud, and their employees left empty-handed or worse. The employer-employee relationship was broken.
The mass access to the internet and the worldwide adoption of the home computer allowed the entrepreneurial era of business to explode. Applying for jobs became digital. People began wordsmithing resumes (and job descriptions) and the volume of job access and work became infinite. The ironic thing is that at the core, nothing really changed. Employers still leverage resumes as a point of entry. Relationships and introductions (networking) still surpass the internet job boards and marketing platforms for actual hiring. Gen Xers don’t expect anything from corporations because corporations don’t really offer anything. We started to break away from long stays at companies for a variety of reasons including broken promises, increased mobility, and the growth of entrepreneurism.
It's Now a Digital Working World
Even in 2019, we are still clinging to the old resume/public job board process for filling jobs. That’s either because older generations are still controlling the process, or some employers have yet to learn about the next generation of getting talent through pepelwerk.
The GI Generation is 100 years old, the Traditionals are now becoming Great Great Grandparents, the Boomers Great Grandparents and X’ers grandparents or parents and yes, even Millennials are parents. Some of us cross titles and some of us are raising multiple generations and caring for older generations. This had caused a collision of expectation across generational lines for how to get work, keep work, and behave in work. We have differing ideas about work ethic, employer/employee loyalty, wage expectations, and even where to do our work.
Because of pepelwerk, my holiday conversations live this dynamic. My kids know exactly what pepelwerk is and does for them-gets them work-they can do, when they can do it, and protects their identity and respects their time. My parents understand from employer perspective because we cut through the noise and match them with Talent who are looking for part time, full time and contract opportunities. We even take care of their temp staffing needs. My grandpa doesn’t understand it at all but encourages me because he loves me.
CEO and Co-Founder