An undergraduate with good communication skills, looking for a part time job after college hours: her profile suited the vacancy I was looking to fill. Young, smart and seemingly dynamic she was and I was mighty pleased with my luck and patience for having waited long enough to come across the right candidate. That was on Day 1.
Day 17, she became another stat in my office. She was the fourth person I had hired for that position – all of them had been young, all capable, all lazy. She’s the third person I had to, quite literally, chuck out because of inefficiency, unprofessional behaviour and lack of commitment to work.
I’m trying to make a point in case. And my case is that it might be all too well that we have a young workforce around, but are the young serious about their career or their jobs? Or are they only interested in making a quick buck? I know it’s not fair to generalise but I deal with scores of students everyday who fall in the age bracket of 18 to 22 years and I’m surprised at how badly they want to start earning early and how little they are ready to work for it.
I started working when I was all of 22, and I worked very hard for very little. My take-home salary was around Rs. 4000 per month that time. And I never cribbed. I was so happy just proving my worth at the workplace. The youngsters I’m talking about aren’t happy with a starting salary of Rs. 10,000 at age 20!
So inflation in India is at an all time high, but these boys and girls aren’t looking to run households. They just think 10 grands is no big deal! Really? Either I must be ancient or times have changed very fast!
And let’s just suppose they are high-paying jobs being offered to young people. Like this 18-year-old girl who was being paid Rs. 20,000 for her first job. She joined like any excited teenager would. And quit before she’d completed her training period. Another one of her ilk couldn’t cope with the training and resigned even before her!
There are plenty of examples I can quote. Like of this girl who was looking for a job but refused to go for an interview because her hair was oiled that day. Heard of a shampoo, anyone? Another young girl gave up a job offer for the post of Assistant Manager because… of no apparent reason! A bunch of 20-somethings were sent for a training in a 5-star hotel in another city. After the first day, they were all ready to come back home because they had missed a meal trying to find accommodation for themselves and didn’t get dal–roti for their next meal!
What I’m trying to say is that it’s great to have landed a job that pays a bomb, but you still have to work for it. Is there a minimum age to realise that? Is an 18-year-old not mature enough to understand what it means to be working for the remuneration you get? What attitudinal shift has ensured that the young these days do not know how precious the money they earn is and expect a respectable job and a handsome pay cheque served to them on a platter? They will willingly spend thousands of rupees on collecting diplomas and certificates for professional courses, but they won’t move their butt to make those diplomas and certificates work for them!
It may be an extension of the call centre culture where qualifications do not matter and you get a substantial amount as your first salary. But even working in a call centre is no mean task. And you have to slog to justify that pay cheque.
There could also be some economic/social trend behind all of this but all I see is scant respect for work – of any kind – that I thought was essential to succeed in life. A young employee is preferred for a job because he’s likely to be more enthusiastic about his work, give in more than a 100% in terms of effort and be willing to learn. Ironically, it is the absence of all these qualities that characterises freshers in the job market these days.
Who is to tell them that to reach the top you still have to start from scratch? Who is to tell them that there is no short cut to success? Who is to tell them that there is no better recipe for success than hard work? You could be lucky for a while, but when that spell is over, you’ll be expected to know your work. These aren’t some startling revelations; these are facts that one learns through the years in school or college. Why then are youngsters averse to accepting them?
What also rankles is that they have the tacit support of their parents in behaving the way they do. The girl whom I had to sack from my office had her father call me up two days later to ask what would be her remuneration for the days that she had worked. I was appalled: the father was just not ashamed or apologetic for her daughter’s behaviour. On the contrary, by calling up on her behalf, he was giving his tacit support to his daughter’s impropriety.
You would expect parents who’ve worked their way up to know what it takes to reach the top. Ironically, they are the ones giving in to the whimsical demands and unreasonable professional ambitions of their children. This blindness to their children’s faults isn’t acceptable: even if you love your child and believe in his capabilities so blindly, you need to push him to perform. You need to know everyone’s is not going to look at him the way you do. You cannot keep finding fault with others – teachers, employers, organisations – to justify the behaviour of your own ward. Perhaps, the children simply know to have their parents dancing to their tunes! But it’s not a tune that the rest of the world will dance to.