In 2000, Ivy Tech of Indianapolis, IN conducted a survey of Indiana employers that revealed that both entry and experienced workers substantially lacked work ethics. This survey is one of many that continue to illustrate today’s workers are not the same as earlier generations and the problem appears to be getting worse, not better.
Within today’s workforce, there exists 4 unique generations – Veterans or Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and the Nexters. These four different generations are more heterogeneous than their counterparts of the mid 1900’s not only by their ethic diversity, but their life experiences especially education.
A quick trip to the past may help illustrate how educational experiences might impact work ethics. In the 1930’s through the 1960’s, the percentages for academic grading scales in public and private schools varied between A’s and C’s, but the failing benchmark was usually at 75%. Since the 1970’s to today over 30 years later, this benchmark has consistently eroded and is for many schools now at 60%. The lowering of this benchmark and other policies such as social promotion have communicated entirely different work beliefs, attitudes and standards to our emerging workforce. HINT: Everyone is not on the same page when it comes to work ethics.
The challenge is how to develop these incoming entry and experienced level workers to provide exceptional customer service while simultaneously improving their work ethic skills. Possibly, the first step is to properly define what work ethics means within your organization. For example by assigning teams in each department to define what work ethics means to them will help decision makers develop uniform standards for the entire organization. After the definition has been constructed, then these should be reviewed and then communicated with all employees as well as potential recruits.
In my 30 plus years of experience, I have yet to find any employee who comes to work knowingly trying to mess things up. In many cases, these employees don't know the expectations because a presumption exists that they should know what good work ethics are. By taking this first step to define work ethics throughout the organization, will help your business to not only deliver exceptional customer service, but will also create a world class organization.
Leanne Hoagland-Smith, President of ADVANCED SYSTEMS, offers an assessment that can quickly better help you identify the gaps in YOUR organization, for YOURSELF as an individual or even for YOUR young person.
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