General Question

deaddolly's avatar

Is there a 'work ethic' anymore? Do you have one? Are American work ethics stronger than elsewhere?

Asked by deaddolly (3411points) September 19th, 2008

I was brought up in a family that worked…my dad often had 2 jobs and my mom worked part time. I work as a manager now and…i kid you not…these are just some of the excuses ppl give me not to work:
1. My cousin just was arressted for murder and I have to see what’s going on.
2. It’s lighting and thundering out and I have to wait for the bus: isn’t work cancelled?
3. I went to bail my son out of jail and they arrested me.
4. I have no gas and no money to get any.
5. It’s raining and I have no umbrella, I don’t want my new client to see me wet.
6. They’ll cut down my food stamps if I work too much.

What the hell is wrong with people? (She silently screams!)

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

32 Answers

tinyfaery's avatar

Not everyone has the good fortune and skills to love their job. Though I don’t condone it, I understand it. The people at my work don’t give a shit about their jobs; the company sucks, it’s corrupt, and it does nothing to really help it’s clients. Why should they care? I go into work with the purpose of doing my job efficiently, but since very few around me do the same, my job is 10x harder, which makes me not want to come in or care about my job. Vicious cycle.

scamp's avatar

Acck! I know exactly what you are talking about. Where I work, it’s like pulling teeth to get someone to finish their workday. There is always some excuse like, I have to go now, I have my aunt’s car. (said Aunt works here as well and knows what time the end of the day is.)

deaddolly's avatar

@tinyfaery The jobs my employees have they specifically trained for…

poofandmook's avatar

No, really, when you have five family members that work in the same department (3 in the same specific area), when one of them is out, all of them are out. One has a baby? they’re all out for 2 days. One doesn’t have a car, so she has to leave with one of the others, who all leave 3 hours before her. Then while we’re at work, all the other family members come to visit so none of them work, while it piles up and the rest of us have to clear it out! Work ethic? psh, not here.

tinyfaery's avatar

I didn’t realize the question was specific to your work; I thought you meant America in general.

If workers walk all over their bosses, the person to blame is the boss. The boss should dictate what is and is not acceptable, with consequences for not following the agreed upon rules.

marinelife's avatar

Has anyone noticed the difference in work ethic by age? Now, I know there are exceptions to this. I have a friend in her 20s who has a fulltime job, runs two self-employed businesses and volunteers for all kinds of causes, but I see her as an exception.

If you agree that there is a difference in work ethic do you think it is the fault of parents who have given the younger generation a sense of entitlement?

deaddolly's avatar

I did mean America in general, but a lot of ppl train specifically for the jobs they have. Yet,
there seems to be drive anymore, they just do only what’s expected and then not even that.

windex's avatar


You guys have to spend 1 day with a Japanese worker in Japan at his/her office.

They work at the same company all their lives (they don’t job-hop)
R loyal to their boss/company
R spending so much time working that it’s not funny (and when i say WORK, i mean WORK, not screw around)

Obviously there R lazy people, hard working people, smart people, dumb people etc. in every part of the world. But i’m just saying.

tinyfaery's avatar

No. I work with a wide age range of people, from 50s to 20s. No difference.

Is it possible that in Japan corporations and businesses actually support their employees, offer decent wages, health care, etc.?

poofandmook's avatar

my dad was a single parent and had to work full time while going back to school, so my work ethic is pretty strong. Too strong, maybe, since I feel personally responsible for picking up any and all slack from any and all co-workers. I’ve been working since I was 14… which is only 11 years ago, but still. When I was a senior in high school, I worked a full time job after school, from 3pm until 11pm.

scamp's avatar

@ tinyfaery Same here. 20’s to 50’s, and all equally slackers. Age makes no difference.

deaddolly's avatar

@ Marina…yes! Age plays a role. Older employees seem to be more respectful to employers and often want to work, unlike young co-workers. I’ve had young ppl come into the office asking for an application and never once stop talking to their friends on their cell phones. I’d never hire anyone like that.

SuperMouse's avatar

@deaddolly, I’‘m curious to know what kind of business you are in. These people are trained for this job, does that mean that they go to school and earn a degree or certificate in order to work in your profession?

@Marina, I have wondered the same thing as you, but when it comes right down to it I have worked with slackers of all generations.

deaddolly's avatar

Yes, I work in the home health care field, with State certified/trained nurse aides and nurses. We take care of ppl in their homes for shifts of 2 to 6 hours a day.

tinyfaery's avatar

Taking care of people can really weigh on a person; I know. However, I feel a responsibility to my clients; in a sense, they put their lives in my hands. But they are also little fuck-heads sometimes, and I want to strangle them. Plus, so much of my hard work goes unappreciated, by the company I work for, as well as my clients. Damn. How do I make it to work everyday? Sorry. Venting.

deaddolly's avatar

Oh, I know. Health care is a thankless profession, clients are either nuts or think everyone is there to serve them. But, having decided on that path as a career choice, isn’t it better to work than to think up excuses NOT to? I seriously don’t think any of our aides really WANT to work anywhere.
Me? I can’t imagine NOT working and depending on others – be it a spouse or the government – for money.

tinyfaery's avatar

If I didn’t have to work, I wouldn’t. I’m petitioning the lotto gods here!

cookieman's avatar

My grandfather once said: “Give me a job shoveling shit, and I’ll be the best damn shit-shoveler you ever seen.”

That, to me, is a true “work ethic”. It’s not about “doing what you love” – It’s about learning to love what you do by taking pride in the accomplishment of a job well done.

That being said, if you can ALSO do what you love – well that’s the icing on the cake.

The problem, as I see it is two-fold. 1) Most employers don’t recognize the job well done or take it for granted. And, of course, they always want more of you – “What have you done for me lately?” 2) Many people do not subscribe to or teach this work ethic anymore – perhaps after years of feeling unappreciated by their employers (chicken or the egg??).

Granted, I’ve oversimplified it, but that’s my basic theory.

marinelife's avatar

@cprevite You raise some good points, but for myself, and I am betting most others who pride themselves on their work ethic, doing the job well is for me.

deaddolly's avatar

@tinyfaery I agree, but would you just sit around? You’d get bored. It’s fun for awhile, but then you’d wanna do something.

bluemukaki's avatar

Fact: In Australia a lot of the small, local supermarkets are run by immigrants because the ‘Australian’ people don’t give ‘a root’ about work, it takes another culture’s work ethic to get the truly hard work done. And god do those people work hard.

tinyfaery's avatar

I’d be a perpetual student; I’d get tons of degrees. I LOVE school.

Poser's avatar

When I was growing up, my parents—quite unbeknownst to me—instilled a pretty strong work ethic in me. At least, I have to assume that it was my parents, as nobody else did. I just don’t remember any explicit lessons. Although, come to think of it, my mother did put in lots and lots of long hours.

I didn’t realize that my work ethic was outside the norm, of course, until I joined the workforce. In my experience, the lousier the job, the lousier my co-workers’ work ethics. This could be a function of the job itself, the caliber of people that are usually hired low-wage, unskilled, menial labor jobs, or a combination of both. Several food-service and retail jobs have shown that my work ethic is considerably higher than my typical co-worker.

I attribute it to a number of things. 1.) Parenting 2.) Work that is, in itself, un-stimulating, un-rewarding, and often tiring, difficult, and soul-crushing (for any number of reasons, not the least of which is dealing with customers who have the misguided notion that employee = personal slave). 3.) Poor management. Let me first say that this isn’t intended to be a criticism of you or your management style, Dolly, especially considering that I know nil about either. But In my experience, managers who have little or no leadership training or abilities are as de-motivating as anything else.

Luckily, in my career—as a pirate, apparently, since Fluther seems to be rewording everything I’m writing. Seriously, this is awesome. I am not even writing like this. The Fluther gods must be trying to tell me something. I love it!—In my current career, the life of each member of the team literally depends on everyone performing their job well. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Seriously, this is one of the most awesome new features of Fluther. I can’t stop writing just to see what I’m going to say next.

Poser's avatar

Alright, what happened to my automatic pirate-speak? It was there in the preview! ‘Tis a cruel wind which blows from th’ Fluther gods.

fireside's avatar

A lot of companies are content to keep their policies on absence and lack of productivity at a minimum because they perceive the cost of retraining and turnover to be greater than the loss.

A lot of companies simply expect that employees who excel will just move on, or occasionally move up, while the remainder continue to float by and watch as the motivated ones seem to drive themselves crazy attempting to get all the work done and clean up the problems caused by inattentiveness.

That said, a job that allows you to keep working after providing excuses like “i went to bail my son out of jail and they arrested me” probably seems like success to those people. They’re probably making more than they would flipping burgers or answering phones so why wouldn’t they choose that career field given the options?

As to the age issue, at my first job out of college it was the older people who just sat there and clogged the hallways while they talked and all the new kids that were working hard. Once they saw that the management was not going to punish the older ones for doing nothing and was not going to promote them for doing more, they either left or decided to kick back.

PupnTaco's avatar

Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” on Discovery has some interesting thoughts on this subject at his new site. in the interest of full disclosure, I was fortunate enough to design & build this site for Mike.

augustlan's avatar

@Dave: I love him! Lucky you.

I do have a strong work ethic. I think it stems from always trying to do the honorable thing. It fits in with my overall moral code, I guess.

fireside's avatar

@ Dave – nice looking site and some really great thoughts from Mike Rowe there.

Do you know, did he put that spot on his shirt purposely before the camera was turned on? I bet he did : )

deaddolly's avatar

@ Poser….priate speech? My preview is ghetto slang. I thought I was loosing my mind.

Yes, motivation works wonders. Trouble is the owner pays minimum wage and won’t raise it no matter how much I beg. I’m lucky to get 15 cent raises for ppl. I did start an employee of the month program tho. Jury is still out on that one…

WTF? Now my preview is pirate. I need sleep…deep sleep.

scamp's avatar

@cprevite excellent post!

Poser's avatar

@dolly—Apparently we both should have read this. We would have been much more informed about the pirate-speak.

I understand that middle managers are in a really tough position. Often not able to give any real (monetary) rewards or incentives, and often the only ones that are available are things that are, quite possibly, motivating only to those who have a decent work ethic to begin with. That’s why I think leadership training is so important.

The following quote from John Paul Jones regarding Naval officers, I think can be applied to any leader. “No meritorious act of a subordinate should escape his attention, even if the reward be only one word of approval. Conversely, he should not be blind to a single fault in any subordinate.”

deaddolly's avatar

@ poser pirate day…again, I say…wtf? It was more fun being surprised.

Very true, the only ppl that were excited about my emp of the month thing were the ones who actually worked. I think it’s a generational thing. My parents worked hard, therefore,
I work hard.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther