Understanding the Struggles of Young Employees

The story of the struggling recent graduate with a liberal arts degree is often told, but a darker story – of the many 20-year-old working class men and women – is just emerging. To fully understand your organization, you should be aware of the difficulties many young hourly employees currently face.

Economic hardships and social costs are abundant in these individuals as heightened expenses force many of them to drop out of college and bounce from one temporary job to the next. For these individuals, “hidden injuries” and/or lack of parental support often delay adulthood, and contribute to skewed perceptions of trust, connection, and obligation to others. The once benchmarks of adulthood – marriage, home ownership, and steady jobs – are left unachieved, and these individuals are “cutting ties, turning inward, and numbing themselves of emotion.” 1

In addition, these working class 20-year-olds may lack the support provided by a parent’s safety net due to a variety of societal and economical issues. As leaders, we can work to more actively understand and support young hourly employees. Through patiently affirming them with helpful feedback (positive and areas of improvement), we can help these young people become effective team members with a potential for future leadership.


1Source: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/22/young-and-isolated/?_r=0


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