The other day I was talking with a trainer at the gym about my health goals. After a severe car accident and some big changes in my personal life, I spent the last few years struggling with how I was going to get my fitness back on track. The worst part, however, was in the conversation with the trainer, I knew what he was going to say before he said it.
We are a generation stereotyped with acting as entitled, know-it-alls. We are really good at walking into a room ready to rock the meeting, only to find we’ve shoved a foot so far in our mouth we need braces again. I admit, we don’t always know what we’re talking about.
However, there are things we do know, and we ignore that information. Why do you think America has an obesity problem? Why do you think we’ve gone from The Biggest Loser to Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition?
No one can say that they don’t know what contributes to weight issues. Instead we find any excuse or any denial to avoid having to deal with the fact we are killing ourselves.
Weight isn’t the only “I can’t” issue we have. Think about money. Living beyond your means is like a disease in this country. However, there’s another issue: there isn’t money to make ends meet anymore. You went to college, tried to get a job, and you’re still not “grown up.” Today just had a piece about Boomers supporting their adult children, and as a Gen-Yer, I know that it has become difficult to become financially independent. However, it is my own hypothesis, in some cases companies expect parents to pick up the slack.
Entry-level positions have been set at a salary rate established years ago (before the Recession when hiring freezes started to creep up). When was the last time the company looked at the average rent in a location, the average cost for utilities/groceries/gas/car insurance, and what an average student loan payment might look like? Does the base salary even cover that? Meh, it’s okay, Boomers are willing to support their kids. They’ll make sure their kids aren’t on the street.
I’m not saying this is a conscious decision and that there aren’t companies taking care of their employees, but it’s kind of the same train of thought that leads us to rationalize that calories while standing don’t count (when we know they do). Yes, I firmly believe everyone should pull themselves up by their bootstraps, however, you’ve got to understand context.
If you know you shouldn’t eat that tub of ice cream, don’t do it. If you know you aren’t even paying enough to cover an employee’s rent costs, you need to reevaluate.
Both of these scenarios are all about getting leaner, but getting lean in the smart way. Organizations will want to grow again and hopefully start rewarding the employees who may have had to deal with freezes and cuts. Reevaluate the cost of living and what the salaries look like and see if you’re on track. You may not change overnight, but think of the fitness of your organization if employees can focus on doing great work instead of feeling stress about financial burdens. And the same way a trainer provides tips, utilize financial education resources to help your young employees be independent and give Boomers a break. Remember, that 20-something needing monetary help might be taking it from Boomers in your organization, creating a vicious cycle of financial strain.
As we all recover over the next few years, we know it’s still going to be a hard road. Take all that knowledge of what you know you should do and start doing it!