Why the young have a very different mindset from their parents now
Recently, I came across an interesting article called “Why Chinese youngsters are embracing a philosophy of “slacking-off“.
Gone are the days in the past, where workers born between 1950s-1980s followed the old school mentality of working hard, working long hours, and enduring hardship so as to achieve a better life.
The young nowadays have a very different mindset and mentality towards a corporate job. Perhaps it is because of higher education as well. With an influx of fresh graduates each year, getting a Bachelors Degree may no longer be just enough as a ticket for success. Competition is stiff and there will only be that handful of roles up for grabs for promotion each other. With diminishing yearly increments but the same amount of (insane) workload, the young in China are going against the norms in the workforce by encouraging a philosophy of “being lazy”. This has been made worse by the “9-9-6” culture popularized by Jack Ma and Alibaba, and also the recent death of a 22-year old Pinduoduo employee due to the long working hours.
It was mentioned in the article that this is a philosophy popularized last year during the COVID-19 pandemic called “touching fish” (mō yú), a phrase in Chinese synonymous with lazing around at work. The young in China are getting increasingly exhausted by the rat race and they see no near term progress. Most are disappointed with their salary as they believe it is not sufficient to realise their dreams such as buying a house. I believe, many of us Singaporeans are feeling likewise.
Hence, many others are turning to making side incomes or pursuing further educations and self-developments so as to break out of the rat race.
As a young professional slogging out in an increasingly competitive environment in Singapore, I can definitely relate to what they are driving at. The more educated we get, the more we think we have choices. And the more we refuse to be domesticated by our boss or our firm. We are better able to justify the work that we do and how much we should be paid. The young wants to be part of a firm’s success as well, and it’s not just exposure and progression, but rather monetary terms too. Judging by how much housing prices have increased over the years as compared to graduates median salary, it is no wonder many young professionals are feeling the heat.
Source: URA. Median gross monthly salary of graduates has increased by only 2.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the period 2017 to 2019, while residential property prices has increased 5.3% compound annual growth rate for the same period.
The COVID-19 pandemic and circuit breaker exposed the brutal working culture of corporate life. Most corporates expect you to be on standby round the clock and to work weekends as well given that you “won’t be going anywhere” during a lockdown. But what they got wrong was that we employees need some downtime to shut off from work as well.
The above screenshot is from a similar article from South China Morning Post. While it may seem hilarious at first instance, there is some truth to it. The mentality of most bosses and firms is that if you are capable, you should be able to take on more work for the same amount of salary. If salary is not bound to increase commensurate with your efforts, then something else got to be sacrificed and that is time spent on work. Hence, this explains why the young Chinese professionals in the article are not willing to go above and beyond of what is expected of them.
Personally, I still believe that hard work is one of the fundamental ingredients for success, especially in the early stages of your career where you do not have much credibility and are still learning the ropes. However, as you progress ahead on the corporate ladder, you should use your experience to simplify the work and reduce the time spent on tasks that you are good at. I am not advocating a mentality of “laziness” or doing the “bare minimum”, but I’m all for achieving a balance in work and personal life. I have seen peers and university batch mates grinding hard for the first 3 years of their career, only to feel burnt out and lose motivation at the work they enjoy doing.
Sad to say, many people are still defined by their titles and achievements at work, but I, feel that one should be defined by how they treat people and how they lead people.
What are your thoughts on the young having a different mindset from their parents? Do you have any tips or personal experience to get out of the rat race? Share with us in the comments below.
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