GENERATIONS IN THE WORKPLACE
I was struck with the part of the article having to do
with the “boomer” work ethic and being available
late [“A Boomer’s Lament: Earbuds, Texting & Toilet
Seats,” www.DiversityInc.com/boomers, Nov. 18].
In some cases it is necessary depending on one’s
line of work, but often people make themselves
too available when they should be taking care of
themselves (especially one’s physical and mental
health) and their loved ones. It often takes courage
to insist on one’s well-being when so many voices are
shouting to give up one’s soul for the job.
I never bought into the philosophy ... First, it
seemed to me to be a bill of goods sold to the work
force by executives, roughly in the period from the
1970s to the 1980s, who wanted to cut costs and get
more work out of their employees, regardless of the
effect on the employee’s family. Second, the emphasis
on work is not only a generational trait but also has
a uniquely American component. Third, if we neglect
ourselves or our families, we eventually pay the price
for it, and the effects will invariably spill over into our
work. Fourth, like children, we adults also need to play
a little to be able to recharge our batteries, return to
work fresh and make good decisions. Finally, I like to
use some of my spare time not only for my family but
also to volunteer to serve in the community. I have
struggled to maintain balance, but after a lot of trial
and error, I have more or less found it.
The more flexible my company is with me (working
from home, flexible hours, etc.), the more flexible I am
with them (working on weekends and evenings). If I
am required to be in the office from 8 to 5 Monday
through Friday, I am less likely to log in from home.
Here is a really recent example: I am a single mother
of two elementary-school-aged children. My kids both
were out of school with head lice. I found it early in
the morning, began the de-lousing process and was
all done by 9. Barring sending the kids to school in
a bubble, this was an unavoidable circumstance. If I
had been required to take a personal day, I would have
hung out with the kids all day and watched movies.
Instead, I was able to be extremely productive from my
home office. This allowed my critical project to keep on
I had to smile as I read this article. I teach freshman
and sophomore English at a community college. [My
students] do not understand why I insist that they
not e-mail me in text-messaging format. They also
have issues with my insisting their cell phones be
off in class. Several have tried the vibrate mode and
texting under the desk, but most are detected. One
student almost hyperventilated when I suggested she
just turn her phone off. She told me she had never
turned it off and even takes it in the shower with her
in a zip-top bag. I suggested psychological help.
Thank you for the message. The key, I think, is the
comment “as long as they get their work done.” That
should mean not just getting the bare minimum
done but doing your job very well and truly being
committed to one of the most important and
productive parts of our life.
You hit it out of the ballpark this time! Help me
understand why the job that pays for your lifestyle is
not important enough to extend common courtesies
to. The idea of a good work ethic needs to find its way
back home to ... the workplace!
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