Hotel Employees: Meet the next generation
By Paul Feeney Managing Director, Sanford Rose Associates - Wayne | October 2008
When it comes to people, we tend to think of the workplace as pretty homogeneous. Certainly our inner circle of peers consists of people pretty much like us - in age, schooling, professional background, athletic and cultural preferences, family size, residential choices and even attire. Workers older than we may not seem quite "with it," while younger ones may dress a little funny. Nonetheless, the employees of any particular organization (be it corporate headquarters or manufacturing plant) seem to be cut pretty much from the same bolt of cloth - or are they?
Because behavioral patterns and personal expectations change gradually, it is difficult to look at someone who is five years younger or older and see much difference. But to think therefore that workers and their workplaces are static would be to make a huge mistake
Fifty years ago, Sloan Wilson's novel The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit hit the bestseller lists as a stinging indictment of corporate conformity, advertising excess and suburban striving in postwar America. The book was translated into 26 languages and led to an award-winning film starring Gregory Peck. Its title passed into the culture as synonymous with a generation of men (there were few women executives then) marching to work instead of war.
One year later, William H. Whyte's non-fiction book The Organization Man described the growing legions of white-collar workers in the following words:
"They are the ones of our middle class who have left home, spiritually as well as physically, to take the vows of organization life, and it is they who are the mind and soul of our great self-perpetuating institutions. Only a few are top managers or ever will be".
Even though countless minions continued to toil in the corporate vineyards, the counter-culture movement and anti-war demonstrations of the late 1960s and early 1970s turned the world upside down. Suddenly bell-bottom pants, flowered ties and long sideburns found their way into business life, along with short skirts and vinyl go-go boots. Federal Express ("When you absolutely positively have to have it there overnight") altered our concept of speed, which was further altered by the fax machine. Star Wars came in 1977 to a new kind of theatre, the Cineplex, and Pong became the first video game in 1978.