Kids These Days

I recently had a conversation with a friend about some of our employees. The employees are high school students working as summer interns, and the things they do are pretty wacky by our standards.

  • One spends all her lunch-with-the-boss-as-a-new-hire time texting on her phone. No eye contact. 
  • One wears shorts so short you don’t even know if there’s anything under the blouse.
  • One keeps posting Facebook photos and messages about how great it is to work there, even though they are doing no work due to the Facebook use.

One key thing I had to do quickly was establish something: this isn’t a generational issue. It’s an age/maturity issue. These “kids” have never been taught or told what is acceptable, for the most part, so they are relying on what they know.

I’ll be speaking at HRevolution and possibly some other events this fall, and at least two of them will be focused on how to get past the generation/age thing and look at what really matters in the workplace. I’m looking forward to bringing the conversation to where it needs to be instead of the “You know those crazy Gen Y kids and their lousy work ethic” conversation/commiseration that seems to be all too common.

Any other crazy stories about young/inexperienced employees you’d like to share? Come on, it’s Friday! :-)

3 thoughts on “Kids These Days

  1. Kathy Stampley

    Ben – loved your blog about “these kids”. My example is so whacky, you may not wish to publish it. And yet, sadly, it is all true – so here goes:
    Once I asked a new summer (high school) intern to help me move some furniture to a new office in a crowded business complex. First he pulled up to the complex with his car stereo blaring full-force, heavy metal. He left the car running with the doors open so that all our neighbors could enjoy the full effect. Once inside the building, he took a running start and launched his body atop a table with wheels and “sailed” down the hallway. And no, I’m not making this up!

  2. Chris Ponder II

    Hi Ben,

    I completely agree with you that some of this has to do with age/maturity, but at what point do people also take individual responsibility/accountability to learn what is acceptable in the workplace. I understand that some of this has to be learned and then taught from parents, etc. However, some of this requires some initiative to know what is right and wrong. As someone who entered the professional workforce in HR young, I certainly could not use this as an excuse. I also did my homework to know what professional maturity looks like – I think you are probably in the same boat.



  3. neel

    Hi ben
    Couldn't agree with you more, internships are learning stages for the students, all about learning how it feels to be at work, attaining knowledge about professionalism and being responsible. And this responsibility comes with age and maturity. I believe all the educational institutions have taken initiatives to mould them in a professional way, and some require Individual's gumption to take up responsibility.

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