Young staff members need to stop whining and start working

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 November, 2011, 12:00am


It seems the generation gap is getting even wider in the workplace. Many youngsters complain they have no luck in landing good jobs, and that even if they do find one, it lacks prospects for advancement.

Speaking with employers or senior executives of companies, another story emerges - the difficulty in finding good junior staff.

Here are some classic examples.

A boss asked a junior employee to print out a document for him and the twenty-something immediately replied 'yes, no problem, easy job'.

Thirty minutes passed and the boss still did not see the document. Didn't the youngster say it would be an easy job?

'Has the printer broken down?' the boss asked.

'No. You told me to print the document and I pressed the print button for you. I believe the document is in the printer already and you can go and check it. In case you cannot find the print button, it is in the right-hand corner of the screen, and you can do it yourself next time,' the young staff member said.

'I assumed you would bring the document to me,' the boss said.

'You told me to print the document, but you did not say print the document and then put it on your desk. You need to make your request clearer next time.'

Another story comes from the boss of a professional firm who needed to hire a junior staff member and interviewed a range of young people in his office in Central. One interviewee was a girl in her 20s with good qualifications. The boss thinks: not bad.

'How do you think you can contribute to our company if we hire you?' the boss starts by asking.

Instead of answering the question, the job seeker asks a long list of questions of the boss.

'Well, I do find your company to have a pretty good training programme for staff. I am interested in joining your training and secondment programme to work overseas. It is for all staff, and I can join these programmes right after I join your company, right? I am going to take an examination for my master's degree and I assume you can give me some paid leave to support my study. Your firm is a caring company supporting staff who study, right?

'Can I leave at 4.30pm every Tuesday and Thursday, as I want to take a new course. And do you have any benefits to support the staff who study?

'I live in Tin Shui Wai, which is far away from Central. Can I have travel benefits to subsidise my travel expenses?'

Finally, a personal experience of the author of this column. A junior staff member from a public-relations firm called and asked if we had received an invitation to a press conference. This author told the young person the invitation had not yet arrived. Could he resend it, or give the information over the phone? 'I was only asked by my boss to find out if you had received the press invitation. You just need to say yes or no. The boss did not ask me to resend the invitation or to give any information on the phone. I do not think that is my duty.'

What can you say?