Chris De Santis’ new book is titled Why I Find You Irritating: Navigating Generational Friction at Work. As the title would suggest, it’s an exploration of the social and behavioral issues that can often make an acrimonious rapport between an older generation’s employee base versus the influx of young professionals redefining ‘professionalism’.


Interestingly De Santis adopts an almost defensive approach toward the young. I was expecting him to speak more from the lens of the veteran boss, but it’s exactly the opposite. He calls the old to task with respect to the needs and priorities situationally of the young, and while the latter aspects are something I agree with I can’t help but be struck by the lack of reverence. Specifically lack of reverence, and lack of decorum in a traditionalist’s sense, to the old. But De Santis doesn’t skewer the ‘old dinosaur learning new ways’, rather he simply adopts a paternalistic but never outright condescending tonality that works pretty well.

It’s empathetic, but assertive. “Americans pride themselves on their work ethic while secretly longing for meaning in life that the work doesn’t seem to provide. We work feverishly to build a nest egg for retirement. Retiring at sixty-five to enjoy your golden years is becoming more and more elusive. The new American dream, for some, is to retire early, in your thirties or forties if possible,” De Santis writes. “While the numbers show that few can actually retire early, the inordinate amount of ink spilled on the subject indicates that many hope to do so. In the meantime, many of us want more time to escape from the pressure of work and in so doing spend more time with family, pursue leisure, or explore the best Netflix has to offer.”

He is quick to remind readers that a certain amount of awareness about the differences each generation faces respectively is paramount, and in many ways it’s on the established generations preceding to foster this awareness. Simply put, for the sake of the greater good. “The truth is that in the context of business, work-life balance is a relatively recent notion, unique to rich, highly developed societies with the privilege of being able to treat modern comforts as needs,” De Santis writes. “On a societal level, working mothers have been dealing with this since they first entered the workforce, balancing the needs of their families with the needs of their employers.


According to Nancy R. Lockwood, a Human Resources content expert, she stated in her research paper, Work/Life Balance Challenges and Solutions, the term work-life balance came into popular use in 1986. I am being speculative, but I believe it was second-wave boomers and first-wave Gen X women who likely voiced it. They were present in the workplace in sufficient numbers to be heard and, if they were part of a household, were more likely to have more responsibilities in maintaining it while working full time outside the home. Improving work-life balance was sought to remedy this imbalance.”

Cyrus Rhodes