Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Boss Don't Mind If You Act the Fool

I don't like to talk about work on this blog. I've heard too many stories of people being shitcanned after talking smack about their boss and having those words work their way back to the smackee. It's not professional, I understand. But when I read this article, I have to talk a little about my experience in the workplace as a child of the '80s in a professional setting.

I guess the title "Corporate Curmudgeon" should have warned me I may not like what Dale Dauten had to say about people my age when they show up to work.

The work ethic is dead. Younger generations in the workforce have killed it off. If you're under 30, "work" has a different meaning than it did -- for the younger employee, work is something to do with your hands while chatting on your cellphone . . . unless it's something to do with your mouth while text messaging....
And it's nobody's fault but ours, the boomers. We're the ones who were squealing with delight if the kid drew an egg. We were the ones who said, "Johnny tried, and that's what counts." And that's why these misguided Johnnies show up and give working a try, then wonder where they find the counter where success is handed out. They see "work ethic" as "show up and shut up," and no wonder they want no part of it.

Okay. First of all, Dauten's comment that everyone under the age of thirty doesn't understand what work is is quite the carpet statement. Not everyone under the age of thirty thinks life is a scene out of Risky Business. I know that work isn't a place where I am celebrated for just being me. Nor do I sit on the phone and chat all day. Do I check my personal email? You bet. Do I read and write blogs while I'm on the clock? Yep. That's the modern-day equivalent of standing around the water cooler for ten minutes and talking about what was on TV last night or a game. If I sat at my desk working away for all eight hours, my eyeballs would fall out. Taking a short break from one's work has been proven to increase efficiency in employees. Yet even with these goof-off moments, I get my work done. I get good reviews from my supervisors. My work gets done better when I take five minutes to email someone about Idol or our plans for Friday that if my nose is to the grindstone for seven hours.

My Mom taught me that getting my work done is important. But I was also taught that if you've been a good employee for a company, they should do right by you as well. In recent years, due to the lackluster economy, companies are taking their employees for granted. In the past, people worked for a company for their entire professional careers. This was good for the employee, since they knew the company well and could expect the company to try to help them out. It was good for employers to keep the same people on board so workers could understand the company and they wouldn't have to train someone new every few years. My friends' experience has been that unless they go out and get a new job, they won't get ahead. Companies won't promote them, won't give them raises to pay the bills, chip away at healthcare and other benefits until any raise they get is negated by high co-pays. Of course, companies aren't doing this to screw with their employees-- benefits are expensive-- but the result is low morale. My friends aren't snobs. All they want is a nice apartment of their own, clothes, an occasional vacation or meal out. These things are harder to come by as money gets tighter. After being brought up hearing that if you work hard and act professionally, it's hard to deal with the idea that you're only going to be at a company for a few years until you move on to try and get ahead. It's hard to put forth a ton of effort for your job when you can barely pay your bills, never mind save money. It's exhausting. I don't know if a lack of work ethic is my generation's problem. Perhaps we suffer from unmet expectations.


Ceana said...

Thanks for writing this.

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