What will your future employees be like? And how will you prepare?

By Karen A. Walker

As I skim a few headlined stories below, it strikes me that in seven years or less a new generation of career-launching young adults will enter our businesses and companies with an entirely different mental outlook from even those of the last 10 years. 

Either these new young professionals will enter the workforce with remarkable grit and grace, formed by having to daily reinforce their inner conviction to embrace and live by Christian ethical principles throughout their high school years (not to mention college). 

OR, these young professionals will have had their Christian principles ground out of them, at least ground down to faint stubble. These will enter the workforce with a faulty compass, an unrecognized ignorance, stunted curiosity and sense of wonder, focused but mundane practicality, a dullness of inner spirit, dimmed eternal spark and yet a profound unvoiced hunger for what really matters, for Truth beyond this world.

Not that the embers of true wisdom and hope aren’t still possible, but when a kid grows up in an environment where what’s good and normal is considered wrong and what’s unnatural and off is considered good and healthy… and when TV, nightly news, even what they learn in school from teachers and textbooks echo the same doctrine, it’s tough to make proper distinctions about reality.

Just one example, one disturbing hint

I’ve experienced just a little taste of the results firsthand in a local library book club two years ago.

We were discussing a Flannery O’Connor story. Various thoughts and insights shared. At one point a lovely, bright, new college grad spoke up. She worked at the library, her first job, and she seemed to enjoy working with and learning from my friend there. 

This young woman, as I said, was bright. She was very kind and amiable. An immigrant from the Middle East or India, it was clear her family was very proud of her college achievements. And rightly so. She was a good person…  innocent…

Yet in the book club, as she spoke more earnestly about the story, I noticed her deep black eyes transitioned from bright and sparkling to dulled over. 

Her comments grew passionate but they completely ignored the author’s detailed description, the actual story and characters, and instead expressed how this moment in the story was a symbolism that echoed some proletariat, socialist struggle against the rich.  Huh? 

It was a very disturbing moment. I felt my mouth open in utter wonder — where could she have possibly come up with this from the story or the description? — I felt my mind mesmerized in disbelief …  it was as if — it was in fact — that she truly did not even “see” what she read.  She did not “see” the words, did not “hear” them, did not take them in. 

It was like observing a brain-washed person. 

I did manage to shake myself out of the mesmerized mode, and when she stopped, tried to engage her to consider the words (which were descriptive about the location), the story, the scenario, etc.   Others went in other directions.  But I found that one moment of watching this young, bright woman unconsciously switch into a type of automatic evaluation of a story and a scenario based on what she imposed on the story, not on the reality of the story, very disturbing. 

How many others were like this without realizing it?  This young woman  happened to be a UC Berkley grad in a humanities field, but it’s not a unique phenom.

Her parents are proud and supportive of her. Maybe she’s the first college grad of her family, I don’t know.  She has some belief system. But the ability to genuinely hear or read or listen to what is actually said or true… whether in a book, in a conversation, on the radio or television… that ability has clearly been dulled.

And what about her peers, and those who are younger and still in high school?  How are they being formed?

Today’s teens, tomorrow’s young professionals

Imagine being a teen today — age 13 to 18—and facing such outrageously inside-out, upside-down, “normal is not normal” daily challenges as these:

The list goes on, but you know it well.

It’s impossible to isolate teens from today’s cultural reality.  Whether a young person grows in grit and grace (quietly or boldly according to their temperament and family influence), or whether they just go with the philosophical flow and unwittingly abandon Christ as their anchor, or—perhaps worse—whether they keep Christ but embrace a false understanding of Who He Is… 

How will you prepare?  What will be your approach to building a strong, ethical company culture as you welcome and train these future employees?

We would love to hear your comments and ideas on this — It seems to me that aligning ethical principles in corporations will require mentoring at its finest… what do YOU think?



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