Adult Kids Still at Home?

What happens when you work at a job you feel indifferent about…or even hate? How about the manager who has to oversee you?

When I deal with workplace issues that evolve around attitude, productivity and turnover, I can guarantee you there’s someone is there who doesn’t want to be, or shouldn’t be. Sabotage of personal work and those around them, lower productivity, and eventual turnover are eventual outcomes.

There are countless studies on age differentials in the workplace. Everything from which generation is more motivated, more loyal, risk averse, or techno savvy, etc. One thing that is popping up more and more deals with our youngest generation — the Millennials.

At 25 and under, this group is huge, numbering over 64 million. Career strategists like Anne Angerman, President of Career Matters (www.icareermatters.com), work with people of all ages who are trying to find a career or make a career change. A great deal of her work is with the 20 to 30 year-old crowd…the merging adults within today’s workplace.

She’s noted that this group has challenges. Depression, alcohol and drug abuse, easting disorders and suicide stats have tripled in the last two decades. “The age of adulthood has stretched from 22 to 26. These young adults are having a harder time finding their place in the world. It’s not uncommon to finish college and immediately enroll for another degree or certificate.”

Where a bachelor’s degree use to be four years in my time, today it is six. Is school that much harder? Are the courses more difficult? Who pays for the extra two years?

Usually the parents…and they may be part of the problem. People are usually more sensitive to costs and outcomes if it comes out of their own pocket. Today’s stats show that 58 percent of 21 year-olds are still living at home (or have boomeranged back) and that at age 25, it’s 34 percent.

Have we parents made it to easy? Are today’s kids too indulged? Why are there so many young adults with bachelor’s degrees who can’t find a good match for a career? Why is college now six years? Why do so many young adults struggle with career choice? Did we handicap our kids by focusing on their happiness instead of making them get out there and work when they were younger?

Angerman feels that one of the problems is that kids are urged to go to college, but don’t know why. “Few do any true career assessment in high school — they are simply told, ‘Go to college.’”

“In the workplace,” she adds, “75 percent of recent graduates see no relationship with what they were studying and now what they actually do.” Yikes.

She feels that it just might be a good idea to put some space between high school and college. “Research shows that it’s far more important to have a vision for career success than being brilliant. When you have a vision — using your natural abilities (research shows that they are solidified by age 16), skills, personality, interests, and values — it’s where you want to focus your energy. The end result is more success.”

Ahhhh…natural abilities, so that’s the ticket. My question to her was simple, “I thought that career testing was done in high school. Wouldn’t those natural abilities pop out at that time?”

They would, but according to Angerman, “The great majority of high schools don’t do career testing; in fact, few used any assessment testing.” For a test like that, it costs money. Schools don’t have it, or don’t want to spend it.

Spend it? As a parent, I would gladly pop for a few hundred bucks knowing that the probability would be that it could save me thousands in tuition costs. And as an employer, I sure would want to know that I’m hiring the right person with the right skills, abilities, personality, and interests for the position I’m trying to fill.

So, what do we do?

If you are a parent of a teen or college student, start with getting them out of the house. They could work for pay in a field that there is some interest in. Forget about how much money is made — the goal is to learn if there is an interest in creating a career in the field.

Other choices include volunteerism or internships. Don’t expect to get paid. If a student has to work to help pay bills, still do volunteer work. Be willing to be a bottom-dweller — you can only move up. Too, too many young people expect that they are going to earn top dollar when they come out the gate. Get over it. The key is to know yourself — your likes and dislikes.

For the manager, you must help employees determine their strengths and weaknesses. This isn’t an optional. Ask — what projects did they work and do well at? Also ask them which didn’t do so well? If one was great at designing and laying out a project but a disaster at follow-up, you’ve got some major hints of skills at work (or not). Sometimes, a manager has to de-hire an employee — a wrong fit for the team.

You can offer a fairly inexpensive assessment, such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the Strong Interest Inventory. Anne Angerman prefers the Highlands Ability Battery — it’s a non-self report and the results don’t change over time. And, it not only measures natural abilities, but also styles of learning and communication.

Assessment tools can be expensive at first glimpse. But consider this: if you’ve hired the wrong person or you’ve got a right person, just doing the wrong job, it’s going to cost you plenty of money. Not only is his productivity not up to par, but the domino factor comes into play. Others are affected by a crummy attitude, by someone who just can’t get work processed in a timely manner, by lagging, tardiness, even absences.

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