Sunday, March 11, 2007

Xer work/life balance

I know I shouldn’t be blogging two days in a row, when it is a fine and sunny long weekend in Melbourne. But I can’t help it – my system is in ADHD mode because of the fact that tomorrow I’m getting paid not to work. It will be my first paid public holiday* in seven years – I’ve done plenty of work in the intervening years, but always as a casual.

Plus there’s a fresh generational abomination on the block, in the form of Matthew Bristow, from recruitment agency Talent2:

“Gen Xers . . . will not sacrifice their personal time for their career.”

Oh yeah? Lack of work/life balance is a Xer hallmark. Australia’s working hours – the second longest in the Western world, after Japan – crept steadily up in the decade and a half to 2000, as Xers’ reproduction/fertility rates plummeted in tandem. The statistical corner that was turned in 2000 with both these trends was only due to GenYers (born 1977-) entering the workforce and maternity wards in numbers. Australian Xers’ reproduction/fertility rates are astonishing in fact, with their only precedent being times of famine or other extreme deprivation.

“And bosses say [Xer] employees deliver a high dose of scepticism which is very hard to manage”.

Derr. Next.

“Gen Xers do not plan on staying with one company or staying within the one career during their lifetime”.

This guy’s brilliant. Even before I left high school at the end on 1982, it was drummed into me (and the rest of my generation, I’m sure) that the days of job security were over. Twenty-five years later, Matthew Bristow is mistaking a hand that we were dealt decades ago, for a card we are supposedly starting to strategically play only now, in middle-age. WTF?

“Bristow says whilst their work ethics are vastly different, Gen Xers love technology and are early adopters, they love learning and change and get frustrated if they are not provided up to date technology”.

Umm, I think that you’re mixing up your Xers and your Yers here, Matthew. The point is that technology-lurrving is strongly correlated with age simpliciter, not generations. Twenty-somethings dig technology, and always have, thirty-somethings bear it, while forty-somethings fight it. Like grey hairs being grimly plucked, technology for me is a death of a thousand cuts.

Update 14 March 2007

Janet Albrechtsen is a rare creature: a tertiary-educated (PhD, no less) Xer woman with children. Upscaling her rarity still more is that she seems to be the only person in the world who can combine a regular OpEd column gig with self-identifying as a proud and shrill 1950s housewife. Here’s her knife-turning f*-you to the majority of her generation, in today’s Oz:

Women of my generation were fed the 1970s mantra that women can have it all. Most of us remained unconvinced. Something has to give. And when it came down to priorities, small children counted for more than careers. Old-style feminists will be horrified to learn that being part of the opt-out generation had less to do with unfriendly workplaces and more to do with the gravitational pull of loving and caring for a child.

* Which phrase would have been a tautology, pre-1979 revolution at least

'first paid holiday'??

When I went on the dole after uni, following years of casual jobs, I was rapt that I got the same dole cheque across the Christmas/New Year period as I got every other fortnight. Finally, I thought, paid holidays!

Yeah, but I know what you mean.
I think you shouldn't get too upset with Albrechtson -- she must be the dumbest commentator of any paper I read. She provides us a favor when we need stupid commentaries for second years to discuss.

I also think you are too hard Gen Y. I can't see how they are better off than Gen X -- its hard to actually think how they will be better off, and given that they've never experienced a recession before, I'm sure life is going to turn into a rude shock for them when the next one comes around (next year?), unemployment rates go back up again, and they suddenly find out that all the ok paying dumb-ass jobs you can do without an education (or an Australian degree in most areas) don't exist.
I think your point about Bristow mistaking a hand dealt decades ago for a card we are supposedly starting to strategically play only now is very well put.

Just an observation on Gen Y - it seems to me that a characteristic of this generation that is not much commented on is the sharp divide between the ones who are doing very well, and have a lot to say for themselves, and a really big chunk of the rest of them who are doing very poorly indeed (and are hardly heard from in any real sense). The growing gap or relativity between the haves and the have nots is very sharply marked in that generation. What I am seeing on the one hand (in workplaces) is a lot of very mediocre Gen-Yers who have been hothoused into educations beyond any real ability now entering the workforce at levels beyond their aptitude. I suspect that a lot of the real talent in Gen-Y is struggling out in the back blocks somewhere seething at all the bullsh*t some of the Gen-Y commentators have to say about 'their' generation.
Re GenY, I'd be willing to cut them some slack, but really - for this: "Gen Y sides with PM, as boomers drift",20867,21404882-601,00.html
there can be no forgiveness. Kevin Rudd is as bad as John Howard, of course, but if GenY wants my respect they'd be better off being crack-whore wastrels than You-Tubing gullible retards.
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