Monday, October 25, 2010

A Rant on Work Ethics

I guess you could call this blog a short rant against what I see as a growing problem -- the slow demise of the work ethic in our society. In talking with a manager at a slow fast-food restaurant the other day on my way back from Connecticut, I was surprised to learn that turnover is high, higher than ever before. He told me kids these days up and quit for anything: asking them to remove facial piercings, not allowing them the exact days off that they want, or if they're even spoken to about poor work habits. Sad, very sad.

The other day, a friend relayed something that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. She routinely works with several mentally-challenged adults at a group home nearby, licensed by the state of Pennsylvania. The work is challenging, difficult at times, and always involves huge responsibility, including giving out the proper dosage of medications, dealing with copious and varied behaviors, and continually monitoring client safety throughout the entire multi-day shift.

When it was time for her shift to end the other night, and the next shift to come on the clock, she said she could smell alcohol on the breath of one of the young males assigned to take over for her. My friend was faced with an uncomfortable decision -- whether or not to report the young man to management.

Then, last night, I had an opportunity to be introduced to a young lady in the parking lot outside a grocery store I was heading into. She had been Robert's co-worker, until being let go for making some bad decisions, drugs and alcohol being only one part of them. She was obviously strung out on something last night, even as he was making the introduction.

What's happened to the work ethic in our society? All of this made me think back to when I was a kid. I remember my brothers all had paper routes and they mowed lawns in the summer, or raked leaves in the fall, shoveled snow in the winter, all over the neighborhood. My sisters and I babysat or went door-to-door selling colorful potholders we had created with little looms we bought in the dime store down on Main Street. In my family, we learned at an early age that the best way to have money to spend was to work for it. There was such a great feeling of satisfaction, knowing it was all ours, earned by work we had done -- and it wasn't any different with the friends I knew from school -- almost to a family, the "work ethic" was alive and well in my little hometown.

Sadly, it seems there's a growing number of young people who can't be bothered to follow the rules in a job, or they bend them, or don't work at all, relying instead on an allowance from mom and dad, or handouts from gram and grampa.

Is it laziness, or a Catch-22 -- a sad by-product of over-worked parents who haven't the time or energy to instill the very principles in their youngsters that the parents, who are doing it all for their children, are too busy and too tired to teach them? Like with so many other things, it's the children who lose out ...

Bookmark and Share


Bunkerman said...

Good article - wish I knew an answer that worked for all, but it does seem logical (cf. your example) that having some kind of work to earn money beginning young should help - even household jobs. Also, what I can't figure out is why people change practices when the old ways worked fine.

Anonymous said...

I've worked since I was in 7th grade. Started with a paper route. In High School, I worked as a camp counselor my freshman and sophmore year in Boston. The first year there was for 5 dollars a The second was for 20 dollars a week, but I enjoyed and got to spend the summers with my foster brother and his family. Junior and Senior I worked as a stockboy for a paint store in Coshocton. Then it was on to Shaw-Barton and GE before I tried college and Uncle Sam got my butt for Vietnam.

My idea would be to have every student, after graduating High School, do some sort of service.
It doesn't have to be Military. It could be Peace Corp or Job Corp. Just something for 2 years to get them away from home and their parents apron strings. Let them see the real world. Maybe they would get some decipline, learn some manners and get some work ethics. Then let them go to college and maybe have the government kick in towards their tuition like they do in the GI Bill.
Just my 2 cents worth.

Cathy, you're the best