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Are You One of the TIREDs?
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The winds of change are truly upon us. From the advent of mind controlled technology to the turmoil in international finance, the global village is experiencing a critical transformation. What political, economic and social trends are slated to influence us over the next ten years is anybody’s guess. Will technology change the way we think and express those thoughts? Will our perceptions of ourselves and our personal world evolve between now and 2020? The short answer to this particular query has to be a definite YES! Here is a “for instance…”
We’ve all heard of YUPPIEs – young urban professionals – but their heyday was the 1980s; now they’re anthropological history! But have you heard about the “TIREDs?” It is said large portions of Southern Europe are virtually littered with them. Perhaps the more important question to ask is: are you already one of them and don’t know it? TIREDs are the diametric opposites of YUPPIEs who were career minded twenty to almost forty-year-olds with aspirations of prosperity and professional success. Thirty-something Independent Radical Educated Dropouts are equines of quite a different colour.
TIREDs increasingly choose – or are forced – to earn less and question the competitive consumption ethos of the last decade. And, at a time when mortgages are sky-high, a growing number are opting to take an unpaid, mid-life gap year. So, another and perhaps more easily assimilated – but definitely unkind – definition of a TIRED is: anyone over age thirty taking a skip year from work and calling it a “career break.” But how did so many of us end up feeling so damned unfulfilled? Well, like everything else, it was a process.
To be honest, none of this is late-breaking news. The term “TIREDs” has been around since 2003. At that time, it was touted as the new socio-economic demographic of this, the first or “double-naught” decade of the 21st century. Increasingly, stressed and frustrated young professionals are opting out of the rat race of law, finance, media, and other high-powered careers to pursue jobs and interests they believe to be less pressured and more rewarding – even if they earn less money.
In this context, another new term has also emerged. The alternative life choices embarked upon by the TIREDs are now often referred to as being “in the process of protiring.” In case you’re wondering – and I know you are – protirement is something akin to retirement. It describes a mid-life sideways move which encompasses the positive aspects of retirement such as having time to explore other interests. Though based on the verb retire, which is usually associated with adults aged 55 plus, the process of protiring is most often associated with a much younger population segment. Research in 2003 suggested one in two 18-29 year olds were making plans to protire after the age of thirty and about one in 15 people aged 30 or over has already decided to protire. So, one can conclude this is turning out to be more than a trend – it’s a stampede!
What we have here is an enormous existential gap. One of the greatest challenges “Big Business” faces today is keeping employees motivated, satisfied, committed and inspired. In a worst case scenario, without its assembly line supply of workers, big business could eventually teeter and fall. Needless to say that wouldn’t be good for any of us. Now, new information from the Roffey Park management research and training institute has concluded 70 per cent of managers are looking for a greater sense of meaning in their working lives.
What is most alarming is the group most likely to feel a lack of meaning in their work are those in their 20s and 30s, who make up the greater percentage of the workforce. These are the people who are saying they are looking for employers who take stronger corporate social responsibility, and feel a tension between their ‘spiritual’ values and their daily work. Others are looking for more personal fulfilment. Whatever their particular slant, collectively they are Gen-Xers who have lived their work-lives in the shadow of the mostly successful and affluent Baby Boomers. They are depressed and generally feel alienated from the workplace and cynical about corporate values.
Image via DayStar Hotel Group
So exactly what is it these 20 and 30-somethings want? Well for starters, it’s a different world and the prevailing mindset has changed. Suggested solutions include defining clear roles for individual workers; showing more appreciation for individual effort; taking a less relentless focus on shareholders and placing more upon customers. Also high on workers’ priority lists are getting managers to “walk their talk,” being consistent with company values; better management of change and introducing flexible working practices. Again, these concepts are not new but rare is the workplace where they are fully a fact of life. Therein lay the seeds of dissatisfaction.
One of the founders of existential psychology, Viktor Frankl, refers to the “upsurgence” of TIREDs as a collective existential neurosis, or crisis of meaning. He says: “…consider today’s society – it gratifies and satisfies virtually every need – except for one: the need for meaning! This spreading meaning vacuum is especially evident in affluent industrial countries. People have the means for living, but not the meanings.” And since many people are not getting a sense of meaning from the companies they work for, they are looking elsewhere.
In North America, in addition to their regular jobs, six out of ten adults work without pay in any given year for causes they truly believe in. Although this work is unlikely to be fulltime, it represents a significant amount of work-hours donated to something whose only reward is personal satisfaction. And Patrick Dixon, chairman of the Global Future Forum, sees the trend increasing. – Just to keep you on track, the GFF consortium is comprised of futurists, academics and corporate leaders around the world who have combined their skills and talents to create a “community of common interest.” One of its main aims is to develop a unique and practical methodology to link short-term strategic business planning to medium and long-term future expectations. – “In the future,” Dixon says, “expect well-run nonprofits, to be led by spiritual refugees from corporate life.”
However, the changing nature of work means more of us seek purpose and meaning in the hours between nine and five in addition to our personal lives. People are no longer content to turn up, put in the hours, get paid, go home and then forget about it. Work occupies too much of our time and energy to be blown-off just like that. If we are fortunate, we work with ideas, or we’re engaged in some way with an end product or result.
The quest for meaningful vocation, like all the best treasure hunts, is often an unpredictable junket. – And now, there’s a catch for all concerned. For the TIREDs to buy in again, corporate leaders must be prepared to go beyond merely reciting the business case for sustainability. They will have to also embrace the “moral case” of corporate responsibility. As for the TIREDs, if their needs, wants and deep desires are fully met, and “meaning” is added to work life, then they will have to stop being tired and get back to work. Dang! There goes that “year off” career break.Text via Internet Debris
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