by | Jan 10, 2020 | Career, Laziness, Self-Awareness, Team members, Work, Workaholism

Today our teammate Jaime Hlavin brings a fresh post that clarifies the struggle between two evil extremes: workaholism and laziness, and how different generations tend to think (improperly) about each other when it comes to these two troublesome twins. Enjoy! ~ John

I enjoyed the days of being the youngest person in the workplace and thought they would never end. Into the office I strolled with my funky glasses and shoulder length hair with the flipped-up ends, ready to teach the staff how to upgrade to the new software, how to send an e-mail with an attachment and how to use Napster to download some tunes for the office.

Then, suddenly, I had the shock of welcoming a staff member onto our team that was born the year I entered high school. That was humbling because it was also around the same time customer service representatives and restaurant wait staff began referring to me as “ma’am.”

If you’re a Millennial reading this and think I sound ancient, just know that my teenage children lump you into the same geriatric category as me. That brings me to this point: Solidarity, my friends, because when it comes to the passing of time, we will all experience youth, middle age and the golden years.

But instead of offering solidarity and listening for understanding, unfortunately, we use words that divide: Old people are slow, out of touch and stuck in their ways. They work too much. Young people are entitled and think they know everything. They are lazy.

Many ascribe workaholism and laziness to specific age groups. We’ve all had that old school boss who stayed late at the office every day and missed all of his kid’s soccer games. Or we all know that young guy who never seems to be doing anything but staring at his phone.

However, I would argue these are traits that afflict cross-generationally. For most of the examples of age-related stereotypes or workaholism and laziness, I can think of just as many that work the opposite ways as well. Rather than deepening the divide between the generations with accusations and harsh words, perhaps the real battle needs to be fought against those two extremes: overworking and underworking. Workaholism and laziness are the bad guys, not the ages of those we perceive are participating in the behavior.

Unfortunately, I think we’ve tried to soften the harsh reality of these tendencies by creating some nice new words. Often working at the expense of our families and health has recently been rebranded as “hustle.” Hustle sounds noble and admirable. And then all of that “self-care” – well, if an individual living in a state of perpetual “me-time” and self-care while responsibilities are left undone, I would dare to say that individual is probably just lazy.

The Bible talks about both as well. Just take a quick perusal through the book of Proverbs to read about laziness. Then flip over to the New Testament see Jesus ask the question, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

If we find ourselves making age-related blanket statements about those who overwork and those who are lazy, I would encourage us to consider the following:

Your circle of influence

Is everyone in it the same age as you? If so, considering expanding it. Hire older and younger than you. Befriend older and younger than you. Mix it up for perspective.

Seek to understand

 Engage regularly with those older and younger than you. Listen to what excites them and what they are passionate about. Hear their stories.

Reframe our concepts of overwork and lazy

Just because someone worked 60 hours in a week, that doesn’t mean those were productive, well-spent hours. And just because someone seems to be on their phone constantly, that doesn’t mean he or she is wasting time.

And once we feel that we are seeing clearly in those regards, evaluate if we have tendencies toward laziness or workaholism in our own lives:

Are my personal/work relationships being negatively affected by overwork or laziness?

Is my work interfering on a regular basis with maintaining healthy relationships with those I love? Is my tendency to not complete tasks causing others to pick up my slack and thus create resentment?

Do I have someone in my life to honestly help me evaluate my tendencies?

If the answer is no, may I suggest finding someone soon!

My hope for all of us in 2020 is to find a healthy rhythm that avoids the extremes of workaholism and laziness while we embrace the strengths, wisdom and insight of those around us—of all ages.

I’m rooting and praying for you!