Not too long ago, I read a piece in the newspaper that referred to a recent study about ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Researchers interviewed over 7,000 workers ranging in age from 18 to 44 in 10 countries. They concluded that an average of 3.5 percent had ADHD. This article caught my eye because, while I’m not disputing that this is a serious health issue with some people, I’m wondering if it’s being used as an excuse.

In the article, employers were talking about the increased cost of healthcare, increased absenteeism, and loss of productivity. ADHD was being cited as the reason for lack of concentration, for the work not getting done. My first reaction was "just another excuse to sell us more little magic (but expensive) pills."

Then it hit me – is it ADHD or are you just bored? Eight hours a day in a cubicle doesn’t generate much excitement in me. How about you? If your job isn’t exciting, challenging, or even very interesting, shouldn't you be looking for something to keep you occupied, to keep you interested in just being there? That may mean playing Solitaire, surfing the web, taking long coffee breaks, or just not showing up. But to say that "everyone" who has a problem with concentration and productivity on the job has ADHD is going a bit too far. And, now there's money being put into studies about why and what can be done about it (i.e. push another pill at us to turn us into easy-to-manage robots).

The job – love it or hate it

The more I study the generational differences in the workplace, the more I believe if we didn't absolutely have to have that job to pay the rent, put food on the table, and buy that new car, we wouldn't be there. Very few of us really love what we're doing – we're doing it because we have to. Those of us who absolutely love what we do have no problem with putting our attention and our energy to the job at hand.

How about suggesting a slightly different approach? The young people entering the workforce today are not accepting a lot of the traditional "We've always done it that way" methodology. They are turning the office upside down. What? Skating in the halls? You want a sofa and a laptop as your workspace? Work from Starbucks? My gosh – if I can't see you working, how do I know you are?

Today, information is being thrown at us 24/7 from every direction. Everything is immediate, gotta' have it now. The younger workers have grown up in this environment. But now that they are going to work, we want to shove them in a cube and expect them to be happy. Well, guess what! It isn't going to work!

Just start talking

Mr. or Ms. Employer – if you are over the age of 44, do you believe that ADHD is the cause of your employees' restlessness? If so, I ask you to consider this. I ask that you step outside the box and ask your employees why they are restless, non-productive, and frequently absent. Stepping outside of the box is not a new concept, but it may cause you to squirm just a bit.

Mr. or Ms. Employee – if you are one of those who are struggling to stay in that cube for 8 hours a day (much less trying to look like you are enjoying it), why not step up and make some suggestions. What's the worst that can happen? After all, if you aren't happy, why not find something that will offer what you want – no, I don't mean buy more lottery tickets that would bring about instant retirement.

In my presentations about generations in the workforce, I talk a lot about the need for meaningful dialogue. Not just the niceties, but real conversation about what we need from each other to bring about a cohesive, productive work group. Perhaps it's time that dialogue starts. After all, isn't talking about a challenge and reaching a mutually agreeable solution better than popping another pill?

Author's Bio: 

Linda Thompson is a professional speaker, corporate trainer and the author of Every Generation Needs a New Revolution, how six generations across nine decades can find harmony and peaceful coexistence, Planning for Tomorrow, Your Passport to a Confident Future, a common sense approach to life planning; and A Caregiver’s Journey, You Are Not Alone, a survival guide for working caregivers. To find out more about Linda’s presentations, workshops and publications, visit: