Note from Mark: My friend and speaker colleague Eric Chester posted this video 3 weeks ago and it’s generated nearly 10K hits. What is it about entitlement that brings out such emotional responses from employers?
What Are Employers Entitled To?
Eric Chester, CSP, CPAE
The most common adjective used by today’s employers to describe the young emerging workforce is ‘entitled’. While there are many exceptions and contradictions to any demographic stereotype, this label that young employees are having a difficult time shaking implies that they act as though they deserve more than their employers feel they are worth.
The reality is that employees are entitled to certain things (i.e. a safe working environment, ethical treatment by management, a paycheck, etc.) However, in exchange for providing jobs that meet or exceed these things, employers also have certain inalienable entitlements, and it’s these that are seldom featured in news stories or discussed at the family dinner table.
What are the expectations and entitlements — the ‘non-negotiables’ — that are common to every employer in every industry at every level? I’ve been asking my clients this question for years. I’ve summarized hundreds of responses to this query in a document called “The Entitlement Creed” and a wide variety of employers have volunteered to recite the creed on camera. (Hold that thought.)
As the old saying goes, “It takes two to Tango.” So wanting to get a better feel for what the emerging workforce feels entitled to and whether the reputation this generation has amassed is accurate, I recently conducted a non-scientific experiment.
I stood in the middle of a busy college campus with a large handmade sign that read “Do you deserve a job after graduation?” In the span of an hour, hundreds of college students passed by and most offered up a response by simply nodding their heads, giving a thumbs up, or verbalizing in a word or two that they did, indeed, feel deserving. Some felt compelled to offer more than a one word response, and they were asked a follow-up question, “What starting salary do you feel you are you entitled to?” (My videographer stood back and recorded the interaction.)
The juxtaposition of these two extremely diverse views on entitlement is eye-opening, and well worth 3 1/2 minutes of time.
Although the creed may appear harsh, direct, and demanding, if you break it down line-by-line, you’ll see that there is nothing revolutionary, radical, controversial, or remotely unfair about what every employer feels entitled to.
The only unfairness would be to not share this with anyone looking for a job, or anyone who may feel stuck in their present job. And for this, there are no age requirements or generational boundaries.
Download and print the Entitlement Creed here.
In my experience, the part of an entitlement that is most often overlooked is the sacrifice that is made to provide it. People, whether employers or employees, are entitled to certain things. But, these entitlements do not magically fall from the sky. If one is entitled to something, someone else is sacrificing to deliver it to you, expending resources like time, labor, or capital that could otherwise be used differently. Ideally, having a organization or society delivering these entitlements to the individual would benefit everyone.
I try to remember this whenever I claim something to which I am entitled, that the sacrifice others are making to deliver it should be in proportion to the benefit for everyone, not just me. And, when I have to deliver an entitlement to someone else, I try to remember that it isn’t just for them, but for a greater benefit as well.
The students in the video appear to be overlooking the sacrifice their future employers would be making to provide them with a job, focusing on what they will receive as employees. A preferable attitude would be to focus on how much more value they would provide to the employer compared to their compensation. With this, an employer will happily provide what these student see as entitlements, because it benefits them and their customers. Bob Burg talks about this in his book The Go-Giver.
Very good & much appreciated! :~)
I agree, but I have to point out that it’s not just the young. Every time I hire, I have people of all ages in to interview, and it’s fairly common among all applicants.
I’ve been fortunate to hire a group who are the least “entitlement-minded” people I’ve ever met, who come early, stay late, work hard, dress appropriately, business develop with ease and respect, treat clients with dignity and kindness, and want to excel and grow. And they’re all in their 20s. And they have interviewed the new hires first–themselves weeding out interviewees who seem entitled.
That’s not to say that we haven’t had a few bad apples sneak in, but they’re much fewer than those that were not. And it’s because the employees–the 20-somethings themselves–who recognize entitlement when they see it, and don’t want to work with those people.
Perhaps what we have forgotten to do–those of us who were parents of these over-entitled young people–is teach them the value of hard work, respect, and honesty. Those are not inherent values, you know. They’re taught, or at least reinforced. But it’s too late for that now; perhaps we as employers should look for employees who have core values and help them learn how to be employees before we fire them. (I had my first job when I was 13; most young people in their 20s and early 30s today haven’t ever worked before college and that job search–their parents didn’t want them to have to work. I learned hard lessons at stupid jobs, and had training from employers who were mean and tough. How did that shape me?)
Just something to think about…