Laura Freeman writes engagingly about the life choices of Generation Z in The Times today. As someone who is comfortably more than twice the age of the author I am unapologetically part of the Baby Boomer lucky generation. Once vaccination had sorted the risk of polio and other nasties in the early 1950s my prospects for a long life were good. My schooling was sufficiently good for me to be the first in my family to get a degree and employment opportunities were, if not unlimited, not that restricted.
So then it came down to ambition. It never occurred to me to try and be rich, I did want to be fulfilled though. A 40 year career with a multinational did the fulfilment bit. The money was good along the way – not “fat cat” good but there were never wolves at the door.
My motivation all along was job satisfaction. On one occasion I chose a job that was technically a demotion because it was so interesting. On another I chose a very challenging assignment overseas where I would have to work in a language I didn’t speak. Foolhardy ? Maybe a bit. Fulfilling? You bet !
I mostly worked 40 hour weeks, though as an ex-pat from time to time this was difficult. I never quite got the need for a good work/life balance – if you enjoy your job why would you worry if it impinges upon your non work life a bit? I always needed to be stretched and rarely repeated myself. A new challenge was always available it seemed.
I was never a head honcho at the highest level. I didn’t have that ambition and nor did I have the the drive for power and wealth that many who “made it” did have. Yes I was lucky that my more modest achievements matched my modest ambition. And that I was well paid to do jobs I always enjoyed. Never once did I look for nor accept a job I didn’t want to do – even if the promotion would move me a step up the ladder.
My career is not a model for anyone and I was lucky that my opportunities were not limited by my slightly perverse approach. It may not be the same today – it probably isn’t. But employing organisations should not assume that we are all motivated primarily by the need for ever more wealth and power.