Hard Talk: Old school meets New school

I have heard many people, especially employers say millennials and very recent graduates are entitled and have a poor attitude towards work. There may be some truth in there, but I don’t think it’s entirely the case. It is evident in how each group/cohort approach things; each group thinks and wants to be treated differently.

The bottom line is we all need each other; the young need the old and the old also need the young at the workplace. There is a lot to share with each other to boost productivity and maximize profit if we know how to work and relate with each other.

The mindset of sticking to what has always worked in a company needs reconsideration and the attitude of knowing it all because we are the trendy generation must stop.

Can we have a conversation now? Thank you 😊

Old School: You come to the table with a whole lot of demands. In my days, you dare not talk back or challenge your supervisor.

New School: I’m so sorry if you see my assertiveness as talking back at you. I don’t come with demands; I just have a better sense of what I want so I ask. I just want to know what I am getting into before committing myself to anything.

Old School: It is fine if that is what you want. Just be mindful of your tone and what you demand at this level of your career journey. You need to do proper research about the company and industry you are getting into before making some demands.

Old School: Even with everything you don’t seem to be engaged; we don’t see the enthusiasm at work.

New School: Before I applied for the role, I found the job description interesting. I got the impression that I was going to work on projects, bring on board creative ideas and have fun whilst working. I knew I was going to work in a dynamic and open-minded team which welcomes diversity. Unfortunately, I am not listened to in meetings and my ideas are always received with criticisms. I would at least appreciate constructive feedback! I want to feel like I belong and can be trusted with tasks.

Old School: Uhmmm, thank you for sharing. You need some coaching and little looking after, and that is why it might come off as we don’t give you the freedom to do whatever you want.

New School: I really want to work with you, but I want to be with a company who has its employees at heart and interested in their career development. I want to be able to share my thoughts and not feel judged or labeled. I want to work and have fun at the same time. As much as this might be of importance to you maybe, I want to be in a conducive environment where I can challenge my superiors and offer better solutions to problems. I want to be at a place where there is a career trajectory for me.

Old School: You should hear yourself out – I want I want! We also want you to work. Before you come with all your demands you must prove yourself. Let us see what you have, and we can entrust you with bigger projects and engage you fully. When you talk about fun, what do you mean? You want to come to work and be on your phone, play? Or what?

My dear work is work; you can have fun when you close from work.

New School: This is where you are wrong sir. We can work and still have fun. I can use my talent and hobby at work to also boost productivity. I love organizing events, so instead of hiring an event planner for our upcoming End of Year party, we can have an in-house events team to plan. I know other colleagues who are interested in MCing, Disk Jockeying, photography and the likes, we can bring everyone on board. It makes it fun and talents can be unearthed even at work while performing other tasks.

Can we introduce a book club at work? A public speaking club at work? A painting club? Put us in groups to work on fun projects which may not be directly linked to what we do here but just bonding with colleagues and not only at End of Year Parties. Can we have a mentoring/buddy program at work, where we have experienced professionals at work coaching us? Incorporating virtual working, flexible schedules?

There are a lot of fun things we can do outside what we do here and trust me we will be happy always to come to work and get the job done anyway.

Old School: All this at work? Wouldn’t it be too playful here? It sounds good though.

New School: I won’t see it as playful, rather initiatives to attract young and vibrant talent who will stay committed and enjoy working in this company. We are all interested in work-life balance. To whom much is given, much is expected. Knowing that all these have been put in place for me, will rather compel me to put in my best at work.


From where I sit as a Career Services professional, who works closely with employers, students, and graduates, I can say for a fact that there is little interaction amongst these groups. Some employers find young employees too demanding, and my dear ‘hip fellas’ think they are not given the space to operate.

The conversation above is my creative way of addressing the issues of gen x and gen y mindset at play in the workplace. Our gen z cohort have also joined the workforce and are we ready for them too? The conversation is not entirely fictional – these are genuine feedback from employers and students/graduates I have engaged with on various platforms in my line of work.

A lot has changed when it comes to attracting and retaining employees, especially young professionals. What was such a big deal some years ago is not necessarily considered important in recent times because of the new breed of individuals entering the workforce? It’s time we pay attention to the needs of the next generation of top talents and our already existing senior professionals.

Let’s start the conversation 😊


Written By Akua Ampah

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