What happened to work ethics?
Now versus Then
Growing up in a suburban neighborhood going to a good public school with working parents, there was always that underlying truth that to get where you want, you must work hard. My father worked full time, my mother often had two jobs at once, sometimes three. Never once did I ever question if they spent so much time away from home because they did not love me. It was understood that they did what they did for me. This was the foundation for my work ethic and it is one that the military enhanced. I know my place in the chain of command and I am okay with that.
The working generation of today, however, seems to have skipped that lesson in life and is aiming straight for the good things. Youth, as a whole, tend to be irresponsible and flighty. It is expected that someone fresh to the working masses will take at least a little bit of time to mature and accept his responsibilities. With that in mind, I challenge any person to spend a day shopping and not find less than fifty percent of their help to be both ineffective and offensive. It is not often that I come across and individual, young or not, grateful to have their job. Gone are the days of treating the customer with respect and dignity.
A good friend of mine related to me how a woman maybe two or three years her junior literally rolled her eyes at my friend when she requested assistance at the shoe department. A coworker at an auto parts store would make a game out of finding new and creative ways of getting out of doing as little as humanly possible at work. This during a time of economic crisis! There was no sense of fear of losing her job, no sense of honor or pride for doing her job to her best. This I witnessed day in and day out for months before confronting her and management about the problem as I saw it. My concerns were taken with a grain of salt and pitifully pacified.
Now that my husband and I have opened a business, we are contemplating hiring a part timer but we have come to a fork in the road. Do we hire someone young, someone who can learn from us and work hard at doing that or do we hire someone older who has proven their dedication to strong work ethics? If we choose the youth, what guarantee will we have that he or she will appreciate the opportunity they have? It scares me that we could wind up going through dozens of applications and not find one person who meets our criteria or worse, one that does meet our criteria but fails to measure up to our standards. What happened to the days of understanding that everyone starts at the bottom? I have overheard a young boy boast that he will never push a broom, that nobody is going to make him do that.
The demand for high priced name brand 'things' has risen. Somewhere along the time line of our country, entertainment and personal pleasure rose to be more important signs of success than dedicated hard work. Two years ago, a local college took the handful of engineering students that they had and drove them to a facility with a very low turnover rate. This company stated that no person started for less than $25 an hour, boasted their impressive benefits plan, and explained that this could be theirs if they studied hard and worked harder. One young man among the group scoffed and said he could make more money somewhere else. Companies like that one have a low turnover rate because people of my generation and older understood the value of hard work and the reward of a great job. The only reason they were advertising for employment was because many of their engineers were getting ready to retire and there is a documented need for engineers in this country.
When the entertainment industry makes it look so easy to play around and make more money then the president of the United States of America, it is no wonder that young kids today talk about wanting to be a singer or a football player when they grow up rather than a rocket scientist or chemical engineer. My nine year old son, upon asking what he wanted to be when he grew up, changes his mind often but never fails to ask the same question; 'how much money does (fill in the blank) make?' We are a large family and I suppose that his obsession over money comes from both the media push and our minimalist lifestyle. He believes that we would be happier if we had more money. Not matter how many times I have expressed that happiness comes from within, he sees only what he wants to see.
His school system does not push for personal responsibility either. I have been chastised for one of my children failing a test or not returning a homework assignment. They have told me that I need to make sure my child does his homework correctly, I need to make sure he has all his papers, I need to make him study, and I need to lay out his clothes for him. They wear uniforms. He can pick and choose his pants and shirt combinations. When I went through school, I received an appropriate consequence. If the problem persisted, then my parents were notified. Same thing with work. If I did something that was unacceptable, I suffered the consequences. It used to be that violation of company policy meant an automatic dismissal. I have watched as employees at various levels bent rules to suit their needs and not be reprimanded more than a mandatory 'do not do that again', if that.
Today's economy makes finding and keeping a job harder than ever. Watching a person do what it takes to get the job then fail to do the most basic requirements of their position is intensely aggravating. While I am not sure I will ever find out exactly where this country went wrong in training this new work force but I do know that my reputation as a boss will most likely be unfair to my general personality. I intend to be realistic and reasonable but very demanding with my rules. Laziness used to be considered one of the worst things to be, in my house it still is and will continue to be. It is my hope that more members of upper management will remember their position and take responsibility for their subordinates behavior and that subordinates remember their position as well and take responsibility for their actions.