Work Ethic

The generation entering the workforce has the wrong ideas. I am going to make the cut off pretty simple. If you played sports as a little kid and they did not keep score you are in the demographic I am talking about. Lets refer to them as the generation of non-losers.

When I went to high school I could point out every single burn out. I knew that most of them were going to skip college and just spend the next 5 years hanging out at the bowling alley. They will years later wake up from the stupor and do something with their lives. Some of them never did, some of them did some college but could not kick the slacker habits. Those kids to me were trying to get their parents to pay attention to them… now fast forward a little bit to the kids that their parents spoiled because they paid too much attention to them.

I know it sounds a little crazy, but I do think that the overprotective parents that never let their kids lose might have ruined them for the workforce.

I have seen this trend more and more in recent years. Kids come out of college expecting to make more money than those people that have the experience just because their degree is on the latest technology. They feel a level of entitlement that is at times a little scary. This gap is even bigger when they work for a baby boomer who is used to a totally different type of work ethic.

Most kids in these generation want an almost equal amount of play for the time the put into work. Places like google and flickr show a “fun” work environment where the dorm room mentality extends to the workplace. So what happens to everyone else that is not lucky enough to work for one of those avant-garde companies?

First they are totally unhappy because their expectations are not met. Then they become very bitter towards a place that has a ladder they need to climb. They have been told over and over how smart they are and do not seem to grasp the concept of experience and hard work seems to baffle them.

In the era of shortcuts and user friendly someone forgot to write the manual to corporate America in a language the new generation can understand. It is almost like a company has to have a facebook profile reminding the kids that you have to get to work on time, and that they might even have to work weekends.

Mediocrity and failure were never rewarded when I was growing up. Being average was almost as bad as being a failure at times, but to some of the generations now that is actually a pretty good goal. Getting a C is not just a passing grade, it is something you are content with. Those principles do not work on the real world. An accounting mistake costing your company a couple of hundred thousand dollars is not an ups, but a pink slip. Some of the kids today actually think that would be harsh, everyone should be allowed at least one mistake… right?

How can we help this new generation? Do we create a myspace profile on how to not get fired? Do we make the next WOW or Halo 4 not playable between the hours of 9-5? How can they learn about work ethic? How can we bridge this gap?

Most of these kids grew up thinking that their parents worked way too hard and they should not have to do the same. So how do you sell them the idea that hard work is actually rewarding beyond having just a paycheck?

A new niche of motivational speakers is growing, and the surprising thing is that is not just targeted at the kids but at the employers to make their work environments not fall pray to the new job hopping workforce. I am not sure on what side I really stand just yet, but I do know that experience was something I did not understand very well until I worked for 10 years on the same field.

9 Responses to Work Ethic

  1. I think that I might “kinda sorta” fall into this category in some areas, my mom spoiled me quite a bit and I never learned a good work ethic. Still struggling to get a grasp on that today.

  2. I have always expected to have to earn my promotions or what not. But I do make it clear after having put in a respectable amount of time in a said position, that I need to know how to move up.

    As far as job hopping goes, if a said employer is not willing to at least offer a means of upward mobility, then I am off to find out who will. Experience is key, and I understand that, but dead end jobs suck too.

    Fortunately after having put my time in, I have finally made it to a nice place, where I enjoy my work. And no, I am not from the time when no one was a loser. Losing stinks, but sometimes that is the best teacher.

  3. Im reading this while at work. So am I a slacker?

  4. Wow, very nice post man. True and relevant. This also relates to how so many people have INSANE amounts of debt at young ages! They don’t have any concept of working toward something. We or our parents had to work 20 years before they were able to afford the nice house/car/tv/thingie. Now their kids are getting out of college and expecting the nice job with benefits handed to them and to buy the new house/car/etc right out of college. Who instilled those kind of expectations in them? Their parents? Society having “stuffitis”? The ease of acquiring consumer debt? Do you know that our great-grandparents considered ANY debt an evil thing?? Then our grandparents started getting mortgages on homes. Then our parents started getting car loans and credit cards. Now we have no payments for two years on a toaster!

    Got on a debt rant there. Sorry. We are going through a program at our church right now called “Financial Peace”. It is all about getting a hold of our finances so we don’t have that cloud over our heads ruining our peace all the time. It is put together buy a guy named Dave Ramsey who has a call in radio show. Anyway

  5. I read an article about “The Spoiled generation”, young adults that think that life and people around are for their benefit.

  6. Can’t agree with you more, and that’s saying a lot since (I think) I’m from that generation. Being in my mid-twenties, I know all about people wanting and wanting and just expecting to get shit for nothing. Hell, a few years ago I was one of those people.

    Fortunately I got over my sense of entitlement, got my shit together, and busted my chops to get where I am today. To be honest, I’m almost as far from wealthy as it gets, but at least I know that pretty much everything I have now I earned, and the things I don’t have I don’t want or need.

    Still working on getting out of the debt from my youthful mistakes, but I’ll manage. For now, I’m just working on improving myself and getting out of my dead-end field (I work in IT but I’ve been stuck in helpdesks for 2 years now, working on programming certs to get into a new, hopefully a bit more lucrative niche).

  7. –> JeffG

    You’ve been working the Helldesk for 2 years now? Keep working on those certs. If the helldesk isn’t enough of a motivation, I’m not sure what would be!!

  8. Most kids in these generation want an almost equal amount of play for the time the put into work. Places like google and flickr show a “fun” work environment where the dorm room mentality extends to the workplace. So what happens to everyone else that is not lucky enough to work for one of those avant-garde companies?

    It’s worth pointing out that Google employees are also expected to put in a lot of hours. If you’re in the office 80 hours a week, it’s their job to make it as bearable as possible. Expecting the same kinds of attitudes in a 9-5 job is unreasonable.

    That being said, many employers seem to go out of their way to make the office unpleasant. I knew some folks that worked at a phone-bank out west. After-hours, off the clock, they would set up a video game system in the conference room and play off against one another. This actually benefited the company because it made employees less likely to leave an unpleasant job and they always had extra people around if they had a sudden influx of calls. They’d just go to the conference room and pluck a couple people out.

    So of course they did away with it. Half of the employees on my team at my employer were people that left the other company. The video game room was the main reason that they hadn’t left earlier. So it works both ways.

  9. We or our parents had to work 20 years before they were able to afford the nice house/car/tv/thingie. Now their kids are getting out of college and expecting the nice job with benefits handed to them and to buy the new house/car/etc right out of college.

    You’re right on point here, Mark. Young people (including my 30ish peers) expect the same standard of living their parents worked decades to obtain. Actually, they often figure that they’re due more.

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