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  • Derek Engles

Managing the New Normal

It is amazing what is now normalized in our society, as the workforce landscape is changing at a pace rarely seen in modern history. Do people not want to work hard anymore? Or is it that the younger generation is just lazier? Maybe it is the older generations being incompatible with modernity? It is possible that social media (yes, tiktok) is just teaching people to be laissez-faire about work, careerism and a goal-driven existence? Maybe the homogenization of our goals, dreams and desires is just a natural part of human evolution?

Skilled manual labor positions are not sought out by younger generations.

So many questions, so few definitive answers. As an avid studier of organizational leadership as well as the economic landscape, it would appear as though we are headed for calamity. If the younger workers do not have the drive and desire, and the older workers stay longer and continuously blame youth for the ills faced by our country, then we are all just talking past each other. Lets be solution oriented, always.

The workforce in between 30 and 55 (the main continuing education age bracket) that needs a lot more attention, if we are going to find a way past this tough point as a nation. If the younger workers in our society want to focus on other things, then so be it. If the older workers are stuck in their ways, then let them live their lives. Lets build systems for those who want to learn, build and grow. I used to think education was the silver bullet of a great society. Now, I believe continuing education (or better yet, continuous education) is the only bullet.

young student working on a project
When others are working and your work feels like play, you are winning.

From the perspective of evolving ones own career, separating yourself from the pack stills holds true as a way to succeed, even if the route to separation has changed.

Instead of looking for blame to place, lets look for solutions to enact.

  1. We need better educational opportunities for our current employees, with an eye towards promotion and trajectory, as that is what the American Dream that some love to sell entails. Most workers want to learn and grow, and those opportunities are few and far between. It is up to the businesses to listen to the employment market just like they listen to the open market.

  2. Accepting that the new normal is a continuous learning is just accepting reality. The days of a 4 year degree from anywhere sets you up is gone and has been for decades. Leveling up is really the only way to hedge your bet on success. We all need to find a way to keep leveling up until our goals are accomplished.

  3. Mentors over Dictators | Friends over Followers | Unique Outsiders over Homogenous In Crowd | Love over Likes. These things are ringing true louder and louder as the disillusion with our society increases. The narratives being extolled on social media are giving us a distorted view on reality, and this is bleeding over into our careers. We can all fix this as we see fit in our own lives, I am simply pointing it out. Life is about stress and angst reduction, as this is when we are at peak performance and productivity. It seems like the comparison game that social media makes you play is eroding us, and it just makes reality harder.

  4. We can wait for the government to give us free education to the same institutions that are not teaching us properly now, or we can go out and learn on our own. Use the internet as a learning tool and not a social tool, and new pathways will open.

These are the things I contemplate when building a community and an educational program for modern times. People learn different, act different and are different than they did just a few years ago. Our employment strategies and educational engagement must change as well. I keep all of this at the forefront of my mind (and strategy) while designing the systems that will assist hospitality organizations in the immediate future.


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