The 9 to 5 will die and what can we do in its wake

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My father was a service manager at Telkom and I always told myself that I would never follow in his footsteps. Here I sit, late in my twenties, as a service manager and I really do enjoy it. A few days ago I was asked, is the nine to five dead and it got me thinking.

I have been of the opinion that my generation will see the death of a stereotypical nine to five job. Historically, you came in at a certain time and left when the clock struck five. After five, you left your work at the office and didn’t think about it until you arrived the next morning. You put good years into a company and hoped that your dedication was spotted and you were promoted. This has already started to change, but I think we will see it gone for good in the next few years?

What is the change you might ask, well it’s simple… the millennials are coming. Dictionary.com defines the millennials as the generation, born from 1980 onward, broughtup using digital technology and mass media; the children of BabyBoomers; also called Generation Y.  I won’t go into more details, but basically this is the generation that is looking to shake things up. A study done by Goldman Sachs infers that millennials are poised to reshape the economy; their unique experiences will change the ways we buy and sell, forcing companies to examine how they do business for decades to come (http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/pages/millennials/). Millennials want to be judged on their output and not their time in the office and will look to work flexi-time. 

This poses a problem to the service industry. I work in the entertainment industry, SVOD to be specific, and the millennials feature in both the customer and employee category.  You can imagine that customer service in SVOD is a tricky thing. Customer expect instant service and, as I’ve said to my colleagues, people aren’t very understanding when you mess with their favourite series and movies. This means that we need to be fast-acting and offer 24 hour support.

What do you tell a millennial that has ideas of working a nine to five, but must instead work through the night? Well, it’s tricky and I don’t think anyone has the definite answer yet. First we must look at the psychology of the people you employ. Employees are no longer as loyal as they used to be and, among corporate aspirations, many have personal projects that they are busy with (like a dodgy blog). Many of the people I have worked with have ideas of grandeur that are based outside of the work place. One lady I worked with, a few years ago, wanted to start a fashion label and intended on growing her personal brand in the fashion industry. Are companies recognising similar aspirations in their employees and encouraging them? I think it starts with management, and the realisation that although they know their employees strengths and weaknesses, they may have no idea that one of their employees secretly dreams of becoming an Instagram star. These are the conversations that we need to have.

Perhaps working a late shift poses a few hidden gems.

  • New parents can spend more time with young children and family.
  • Employees can work on side projects, that can be more personally fulfilling
  • Employees can study further

Millennials need to feel challenged and, although they need to work in a shift environment against their will, encouraging them to fulfill personal goals might be a well-received perk to their role. They could see it as their “day job” funding their passion, as long as the passion project doesn’t get in the way of their “day job”.  It could be the difference between enfranchised and disenfranchised staff and that influences their output.

One of my goals in the next year is to understand what drives my colleagues and the people who report into me. At the end of the day, employees are assets to the company not the other way around. Get to know your employees are encourage their side endeavors, no matter how wacky and weird they may be.

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