Work-Life Balance

I heard this terminology for the first time yesterday during a radio show.  I am a Boomer (a late Boomer, mind you), not born into the digital age.  Therefore, I am also a digital immigrant since I migrated to it or acquired and mastered it after its introduction into society.  My children, however, are digital natives, as technology existed at the time of their births and continues to innovate our lives (my GenXers and Millenials). 

These terms may turn out to have deeper implications for our world.  One day I may have to protect myself if I feel I have been discriminated against due to my immigrant status.  Will there be new legislation to ensure there are no barriers to my continued presence in the workplace?  Can I expect preferential treatment in employment policies and practices because I am now part of a designated group?  Should I initiate a cultural centre that aims to conserve the traditions and customs of my pre-digital ancestry?   Will there, one day, exist a NAP – National Association for the Preservation of pre-digital humanity?   I mean no disrespect to those for whom similar legislation is unfortunately necessary but as Traditionalists and Boomers delay retirement, digital immigrants in society today are taking all necessary measures.  Many are, in fact, going to night school to be integrated to this digital society.  We will NOT go away quietly.  We will not go back to where we came from.

My children spurn my digital immigrant heritage and forge their new lives as natives on this digital planet.  And why not?  Should they even cast a backward but nostalgic glance at a manual typewriter, rotary phone, vinyl record or monogrammed stationary set?  They will one day eulogize me saying, “Ah yes, our dear departed mother… do you know she used to handwrite her thank you cards?  What a classic!  For some reason, she always referred to my iPod as a Walkman – what was that all about?”

Digital immigrant, indeed.  Im hu Im

 (In case you require translation: http://www.lingo2word.com/translatetxt.php?searcher1=word&tosearch1=Create+Cool+Text+Messages+,+Just+Type+Your+Message+in+the+left+box)

day dreaming

We already know that the full extent of the capabilities of human brain is not fully understood.  Most of us have often heard that humans only use 20% of their brain most of the time.  Well here’s the best news:  a wandering mind can be an exceptionally good thing.  A study by Michael Kane at the University of North Carolina shows that our minds drift off task one-third of the time (surprised?  Not me).  You know, in a typical 8-hour work day, that’s a lot of day dreaming!  The study further suggests that if our body has an urge to do this so often it might actually be a useful activity (Okay, now you have my attention).  In brain scans, it has been shown that when the mind veers off-task, it utilizes the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain that is involved in problem solving.  This means that the ‘leisure’ mind is likely doing creative thinking (Ah –ha!  I knew it!)  This would explain why so many so-called “light-bulb” moments happen to scientists, artists and other problem-solvers when they are actually not applying themselves to a particular task (I am now thoroughly impressed).  I would certainly advocate further study on how our brain utilizes this so-called brain downtime as it is proving to be time well spent.  It’s implications to the workforce are huge.  Imagine the following addendum to your current job description:

  •  Other duties as assigned, including staring off into space for indeterminate periods of time  

Or

  • Performance management of supporting staff including attention to requisite inattentiveness

 Or

  •  Responsibility for ad hoc assigned projects including implementation of forced distraction.

Wow, stay tuned… (if you can).

env

The term the “Lost Generation“, coined by Gertrude Stein is used often to describe American writers who lived in Paris after the First World War.  One member of the lost generation, Ernest Hemingway, wrote his book “A Movable Feast” about his days in Paris during this era. 

 My son brought home a poem today called Lost Generation, by Jonathan Reed…

 Lost Generation

 I am part of a lost generation
And I refuse to believe that
I can change the world
I realize this may be a shock but
“Happiness comes from within”
Is a lie, and
“Money will make me happy”
So in 30 years I will tell my children
They are not the most important thing in my life
My employer will know that
I have my priorities straight because
Work
Is more important than
Family
I tell you this
Once upon a time
Families stayed together
But this will not be true in my era
This is a quick fix society
Experts tell me
30 years from now I will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of my divorce
I do not concede that
I will live in a country of my own making
In the future
Environmental destruction will be the norm
No longer can it be said that
My peers and I care about this earth
It will be evident that
My generation is apathetic and lethargic
It is foolish to presume that
There is hope* 

And all of this will come true unless we choose to reverse it.

 Now start at the * at the bottom at read each line of the poem going up instead of down.

 Isn’t that neat?  God bless this generation!

I recently read an article about the Lost Generation – the group of 16 to 24 year-olds who are not finding the meaningful employment they expected after finishing high school, college or university and even graduate school.  Not to seem unsympathetic but throughout the course of history, plenty of kids graduate (or drop-out) and are faced with a job market that clashes with their expectations.  Nevertheless, unemployment is soaring within this age group as they simply cannot find jobs or are accepting roles well beneath their education level. workplace

We add to this labour pool crisis the fact that this recent recession has left many companies unable to meet their pension obligations, resulting in many seniors delaying their retirement and retirees now looking for employment to augment their diminished monthly income. 

Set aside all the broken dreams realized by these two age groups, companies today are faced with a policy dilemna:  how to manage four generations of people at work.  In many organizations today the workforce make up includes Seniors (the over-50 crowd who may or many not be on the brink of retirement), Boomers (the 40-50 crowd), Generation Xers (the 30-40 crowd) and Generation Yers (>16-30 crowd, also sometimes called the Millenials)1.  Wherever the great dilemmas exist, is where there is great growth.  I wish I could remember who said that or where I read that so I don’t get sued.  It’s a challenging time to say the least, but imagine working for the organization who figures out how to retain and engage legacy learning, create upward career paths and opportunity to create self-wealth, match wits with the today’s innovators while allowing for the social media expectations of the up-and-comers?  It would be awesome, wouldn’t it?  Kind of like sitting down for a big family dinner!  Wait a minute…. Hold that thought, memo, email, twitter….

 1 There are more generally accepted birth years associated with these workforce labels, I just can’t remember them!

About Astra
Ottawa mom of 3 poking fun at myself, motherhood, and minor hockey! I am steering through life dodging stinky hockey gear and empty wine bottles.
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