I’ve heard it a lot before and have even railed about it myself: young people are unmotivated. They have no work ethic and they are entitled whiners. I’ve heard bosses throw up their hands: they simply don’t want to work!
I am a firm believer in hard work and certainly hate the entitlement attitude that pervades people across every generation. However, are young people lazy or are they simply smart? Maybe it’s both. But, I’m going to address why they might be smart about work (even if they don’t realize it).
Let’s look at employment today. A person spends fifty grand to go to college, most of it in student loans. Then, he applies for a job where he likely is on the bottom rung. He has no job security and the company would fire him in a second if it meant their bottom line was threatened. Yet, he’s supposed to be dedicated to the company and give his best and most valuable skills to others.
I look at my experience as a teacher at an elite private school. They charged twenty thousand per year to attend. Yet, I didn’t even make double that, although I taught around eighty students. I did all the heavy lifting and was even expected to recruit students. I did, gladly. One year my “raise” was five hundred dollars, which didn’t even offset the increases I paid in insurance. Oh, and I was let go the next year.
I understand supply and demand regarding labor. I get it. A teacher doesn’t command more than a terrible salary, even if the school is rolling in the dough. Of course, part of that is because we allow the labor market to operate the way it does. Maybe if people withheld services and demanded more, they’d command more money. Of course, it’d have to be on a larger scale. But, I digress.
I look at a young person who lives at home, works a part-time job, and has little ambition and wonder if he isn’t smarter in the long run. True, he might be living off his parents’ hard work and eventually will have to scale back and enjoy fewer material goods. Even so, which is better, a modest life enjoyed with family, friends, and down time or a terrible workaday living of stress and abuse for the sole purpose of making others rich?
While I enjoy money, status, and even enjoy working hard, I still think that family and friends are far more important than money and status. I believe most people would agree. Yet, most of us spend the best years of our lives making others wealthier while we neglect the most important things in life.
Of course, the best solution is to start your own business and find success at it. That’s often a process with no guarantee of success. And, it’s not for everyone. But, is our current system of work really worth it? I’m not so sure anymore. I look at “lazy” young people and wonder if they don’t have the right idea, even if they don’t know it.