Workaday drudgery has had a healthy run, hasn’t it? The Industrial Revolution, which began in the mid–18th century, gave us factories, and those factories—catalyzed by teeming workforces—were managed by managers managed by managers managed by still more managers. Et voilà! The corporate life as we know it.
And we leaned into it. We took big jobs, climbed ladders, wrecked glass ceilings—and were grateful to be able to. As we returned from the World Wars and grabbed at the American Dream, we delighted in job stability and safety—something our immigrant parents had never conceived would be so prevalent. We had children and contributed to 401(k)s, bought patches of American soil and built homes on them. The formula for such sweet and enduring success was straightforward: Attend college, graduate to a job in one of the country’s many bustling industries, show up on time, be productive and loyal, and retire with a gold watch after 40 years.
Although there were recessional dips along the way and gradual changes in wealth distribution had, for decades, been squeezing the average working American, nothing hammered us quite like the market collapse of 2008. Up and down Main Street, once-steady businesses were shuttered. Newspapers and magazines folded. Discouraging phrases like “income inequality,” “jobless recovery,” “catastrophic health insurance,” and “the 47 percent” became everyday language. Even the most industrious among us were sent home with two weeks’ severance and a boxful of our belongings.
“The way we think about work is changing,” says Linda Barrington, executive director of the Institute for Compensation Studies at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. “Coming in at the bottom and working your way up the ladder isn’t [a reliable option] anymore.”
And in our changing attitude to jobs and new job titles and descriptions this LinkedIn survey of parents makes so much sense
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