I know this advice will sound like classic baby-boomer nonsensical thinking to many, but I just cannot help myself. Here it is: If you are willing to go above and beyond in today’s business climate, the financial rewards are unlimited. In fact, this advice applies to operators, sales reps – anyone who is working.
A shift in priorities
In the past, so many obstacles have blocked opportunity for dedicated people to succeed, from nepotism, to racism, to ageism, to gender discrimination, to favoritism. The pandemic has caused the door to swing open like never before for overachievers, simply because the workforce has reset their priorities.
Studies show there has been a seismic attitudinal shift among today’s employees. This shift is not limited to Gen Z, who are often blamed for just about everything that is being done differently today. Based on the statistics, Gen Z is leading the pack when it comes to having a bit less ambition on the job.
The Wall Street Journal reports: “In a November survey of more than 3,000 workers and managers by software firm Qualtrics, 36% said their overall career ambitions had waned over the past three years, compared with 22% who said their ambition had increased. Nearly 40% said work had become less important to them in the past three years, while 25% said it had grown more important.”
“Acting your wage”
Thanks to TikTok, “acting your wage” is a concept that has gone viral. It means doing the bare minimum if you are not satisfied with your compensation level.
Jack Kelly, a career and salary advisor, expanded on the concept in a 2022 Forbes Magazine article: “It’s about setting boundaries. The ethos is that if the company and managers fail to offer empathy, encouragement, the compensation you deserve and psychological safety to do your job without the fear of being yelled at or abused, there is no reason to overextend yourself working and let it affect your quality of life.”
Disenchanted with 9-to-5
Overall, 37% of all workers and 48% of Gen Z agreed that their attitude toward work is focused primarily on getting the job done.
- 57% of all workers, but only 43% of Gen Z, agree that they go above and beyond on the job.
- 52% of all Gen Z and millennials agree that they are growing disenchanted with the 9-to-5 lifestyle.
This lack of ambition is impacting the level of customer service. The Wall Street Journal report points to a survey conducted by television providers NBC and Telemundo, in which 75% of respondents said that customer service had gotten worse during the pandemic. 78% needed to contact a company multiple times to deal with a single concern. 55% never did get their problems resolved.
What this means for employees – including sales reps
Kelly notes that, “It’s understandable, especially for young people, to be disenchanted and disengaged with work. Gen Z grew up in the shadow of Sept. 11. They lived through the great financial crisis, the pandemic, wars, losing their senior year of high school and a chunk of their college experience when schools sent them home, political and social upheaval, runaway inflation and high-interest rates, making it nearly impossible to save money, purchase a home or lead a life anywhere near their parents’ lifestyle.”
The best revenge is success
Clearly, they were dealt a bad hand, but what does Kelly suggest that they do about it? “Rather than coasting, show management how awesome you are by being productive. While everyone else is on cruise control, you must rev up the engine and blow past all your co-workers. It won’t be too difficult, as they don’t care,” Kelly wrote.
“People will start noticing you. Managers will want you on their team and projects. Promotions will come your way. Recruiters will hear about you and headhunt you for better-paying roles at other firms. Your confidence will grow, along with the skills that you're honing. The best revenge on your boss and company is to succeed and make more money than they earn,” he added.
Certainly, if your employer does not reward your exceptional performance in this particular business climate, it is time to move on.
What this means for operators
With customer service at an all time low, an excellent customer experience is now being defined by:
- Not being left on hold.
- A quick response to a problem.
- A self-serve solution that is immediately accessible, such as live chat.
- Actual human contact with a live operator.
- Rapid follow-up to a sales inquiry or a service issue.
- Not sending a survey to document every customer service experience.
- Human interaction beyond the basics, such as entertaining a client.
As a company, avoid being sucked into the mediocrity vacuum, just because client expectations have been lowered by all the excuses that have been available since March 2020. Make a new, companywide commitment to not only covering the aforementioned fundamentals but also to go above and beyond when serving your clients.
If you happen to find some young and energetic employees who reject the idea of “acting their wage,” do not make the mistake of taking them for granted. These people are your future leaders, the ones who will drive your company to success. Reward them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Tullio is a content specialist, speaker, sales trainer and contributing editor of Automatic Merchandiser/VendingMarketWatch.com. He advises entrepreneurs on how to build a successful business from the ground up and specializes in helping suppliers connect with operators in the convenience services industry – coffee service, vending, micro markets and pantry service specifically. Tullio’s b2b Perspective Channel has developed a loyal YouTube following.
Tullio delivers this promise to any company that hires him for a 30-minute or 1-hour Zoom call: "One short session with me will elevate the performance of your sales team.”