Strawberry generation was actually coined for Taiwanese people born after 1981 who “bruises easily” like a strawberry. These people are well-taken care of when they’re growing up, akin to strawberries who had to be grown in a glass house, protected from the elements and are usually taken to be spoilt, arrogant, selfish, a sense of self-entitlement and of course, unable to take hardships, hence the “bruising easily” connotation.
Today, the Gen Y Singaporeans who grew up comfortably in Singapore, resting on the laurels of their parents’ hard fought battle for prosperity, are given the same term.
They are thought to be weak and unable to take adversity. They have a tendency to job-hop, unlike their parents who stayed with a company for decades, and have a sense of self-entitlement that seems grossly misplaced. They want everything, yet they’re not willing to work for it. They complain about the world, but the blame never lies with them. At the smallest sign of hardships, you’d see them crumbling like a house of cards, shying away from what they perceived as trouble.
So bosses are usually critical and harsh with them, trying to weed out the weak ones and hopefully retain the strong ones with a something that closely resembles a ‘hazing period’. After all, they reasoned, I wouldn’t want to waste my resources training someone who will run away at the first sight of trouble, right?
All these just leads to Gen Y Singaporeans looking for the next company to jump to instead of staying with the company, and employers face the problem of being unable to retain staffs.
But is that perception truly accurate, or are there anything that needs to be changed? Well, we’d think that perception needs to be changed.
The Gen Y Singaporeans, or the strawberry generation, as some calls them, need to change their mindset. Having been comfortable growing up, it is undeniable that they might have a misplaced sense of self-entitlement. But we can’t really blame them, not when they’re suddenly thrown into this harsh working world where “work-life balance” is nothing but a myth and instant gratification is all but impossible.
If you’re not prepared to change your mindset, you’d find yourself a very unhappy person no matter where you work at, because nothing is going along to your, admittedly skewed, perception of reality.
However, it’s not just the strawberry generation alone that needs to change. Bosses and superiors needs to recognize that times have changed, and there may be generational gaps between them and the younger generation.
In the past, employees prefer stability, and they don’t mind routine work in order to feed their family, but for the newer generation, they are always striving for something challenging, something less monotonous. You’d be surprised, but for some Gen Y job hoppers, the reason why they left their previous job was not because of work stresses or pay, but simply because it wasn’t challenging enough.
Another factor might be the fact that Gen Y employees grew up more educated and thus, thinks they know more about their rights. After all, they know plenty about the Employment Act and Labour Movement, so if employers do anything that they perceive as unfair treatment, they’ll be gone before you even know it – that includes texting them after working hours, expecting them to do OT every day, things that the older generation does without complain but the newer generation, well, they’d most probably be looking for the next job to hop to.
What we would suggest, is for the employers to look at what really stimulates these employees. You’d find yourself pleasantly surprised when you see someone who was previously sluggish in their work performance, suddenly produces great results and work like no day no night, simply because he’s genuinely interested in the task that he’s given.
In a nutshell, Gen Y employees are difficult customers to deal with, and the old way of handling them in workplaces no longer works. In order to deal with the problem of talent retention, both strawberry generation employees and employers have to recognize that there’s a generation gap between them, and work towards reconciling the differences.
It’s a game of give-and-take, and if either side refuses to give in, the problems faced today might just be exacerbated.
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