Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Strawberry Generation

A couple weeks ago, Iris Tan and I were engaged in an informal after-hour chat with my immediate supervisor in his office. At one point, he mentioned that he is now is having a hard time managing a bunch of staff coming from strawberry generation. People who cannot take pressure. People with strawberry's qualities. They look admirable from outside but they are true enough to be fragile. Strawberry looks nice and sweet but it easily bursts when you squeeze.

After this discussion, my producer fellows and I often crack jokes on this 'strawberry generation' label on our foreheads and question why senior folks in our organization have labeled us this way. Don't they realize that employees, notably known as the strawberry generation, need personal life to live other than being stuck in the office, working straight for 10-12 hours a day? Don't they realize that we, the strawberry generation, have put our maximum efforts to accommodate the sky-high workload put on single body's shoulders and meet the absurd deadlines set? Don't they realize that their working systems and expectations have constantly haunted and alerted our mind (even when we sleep at night) almost 24/7, 365 days a year (since applying annual leave is proven to be very stressful)?


Apparently this 'Strawberry Generation' term is originally from Taiwan. It is used to describe Taiwanese born in 1980s (between 1981 and 1991) raised in a generally wealthy family, hence, are unable to bear pressure, less able to withstand pressure or do hard work. According to Wikipedia, this happens as this generation is grown up from a protected environment like strawberries which are grown in greenhouses. This generation is known unable to bear the harsh realities of the real 'working' world and quite often to be immature. In short, they can't work.

Do we, Generation Y, really burst that fast and easily?

To me, all of these statement and categorization are really subjective. People's ability to take pressures are personal. It all depends on the current working situation and working pressures that someone faces. People's characters vary beyond AA to ZZ. Moreover, people have limit and to some extent, getting frustrated and stress once in a while is still considered normal.

Older generation cannot simply label Generation Y with 'Strawberry' chop on their foreheads. There are high-performing and hardworking youths, though maybe in shorter supply these days. However, I think not all Baby Boomers or Generation X are successful or hardworking either. I still notice people coming from older generation slack at work. They also get frustrated over work sometimes. They quit their jobs too when they cannot take the pressure any longer.

There's no perfect person nor employee in this world. Work-life balance is indeed one of the basic human needs that people must not ignore. At the end of the day, money can't really buy you a proper life when you've gone mad.

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