A recent Linked In discussion asked the question “Why do you feel the work ethic isn’t the same today as it used to be?” As a baby boomer, I believe that the work ethic is definitely not what it was even in the mid to latter part of the 20th century. It is easy to dismiss it as a motivation problem or more correctly a lack of motivation, but it’s not that simple.
It is something that has occupied my mind for a while and more so since the “occupy” movement started clogging up cities across North America and the world.
I also read recently that every generation in recorded history has felt that subsequent generations had life easier and did not have the same work ethic as their parents. There is probably a fair bit of truth in that statement. But I still feel that the work ethic in the Western world is not the same as it used to be. The huge advances of China, India and Indonesia in the last few years seem to indicate that a strong work ethic is still alive and well in those countries.
The very fact that thousands of manufacturing jobs have migrated to those and other, countries is proof that we have priced ourselves out of the job market in many categories.
Does it mean that all the members of the younger generations are lazy? Absolutely not, there are many examples of successful, hardworking younger people in different fields who exhibit a strong work ethic and achieve huge goals. Others of all ages who overcome adversity and accomplish great things. Just as there are many older people who do not.
No, I do not think it is a problem of a particular generation. I believe it is a societal problem, the rise of the nanny state and political correctness. The sacrificing of individual rights and an obscene pre occupation with group rights for any group that is slightly outside the mainstream. The attempt to legislate against any real or imagined risk, the reluctance of the authorities to take action against groups breaking the law (Occupy movements, Vancouver and UK rioters) compared to the enthusiasm with which individuals are harassed if they are suspected of standing up for themselves (shopkeepers apprehending shoplifters, home owners resisting burglars).
The rewarding of mediocrity in everything from children’s sports to below par job performance. The stranglehold the unions have on some industrial sectors and many government’s employment policies. The propaganda that to have wealth is evil, that it must have been “unfairly” created or stolen from the workers. The lack of consequences for failing to improve.
Add to that the sense of entitlement that is so common now. Things that for all of mankind’s history have been a privilege to be worked for, guarded, treasured and even sacrificed for, are now demanded as “rights”. Some of the modern demands are:
- A good job
- A “fair” wage irrespective of productivity
- A “nice” house
- Hi speed Internet
- Free Health care
- A smart phone.
So I have to agree that the work ethic in most of the Western countries is not what it was, but I disagree with the assertion that it is the fault of younger generations, it is the inevitable conclusion to the incremental introduction of socialist policies over a number of generations. These policies have been sold to electorates as “the right thing to do” good for “human rights”, “fair”, attempts to equalise income (read steal from the rich) and a whole list of other good sounding but economically unsound fairy tales. Just look what a mess they have got North America and Europe into.
I believe that the pioneering spirit, moulded by the values and the beliefs that once led European nations to spread their influence over huge empires, and the same spirit that created the American Dream is still alive in our countries. But it is not a healthy patient, it is being suffocated by the very same governments that should be resuscitating it.
For those that do have a strong work ethic and want to stream line their social media activities, there is a very useful tool called Xeeme, it’s free and it makes it easy to share your entire social media presence with one link. I wrote about it in more detail on my SocialMediaPete blog . Try it out by clicking on the button below and see my XeeMe profile.