Professionalism Declining Among Younger Workers

Research is showing that among millennials (i.e., people born after 1985) professionalism is declining.

Millennials are the generation that:
*Got trophies just for showing up.
*Played T-ball where everybody got to bat, nobody kept score, and there were no losers – everyone was a winner.
*Bowled with bumpers in the gutter, which guaranteed no gutter-balls and ensured that the pins got hit every time.
*Worked in small groups in school and always collaborated.

Now, millennials are joining the workforce and culture shock!
*Not everyone gets a trophy.
*There are winners and losers.
*Managers correct them when they make mistakes.
*Collaboration has its place but for the most part, they need to produce results alone.

The Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania completed its 2013 annual survey on the state of professionalism among entry-level employees.  The survey indicated a decline in professionalism that is driven by:
*A too casual attitude toward work (86.6%).
*Not being self-driven (71.5%).
*A lack of ownership of one’s work (69.3%).

The desired qualities that respondents to the survey felt reflected professionalism were:
#1 Working until a task is completed competently.
#2 Interpersonal skills including civility.
#3 Punctuality and regular attendance.
#4 Being focused and attentive.
#5 Appropriate appearance.
#6 Communication skills.
#7 Honesty.

Who is to blame for this lack of professionalism? Is it parents?  Is it the educational system?  Is it society?

HR POINTER: Regardless of who is to blame, it’s up to all of us to fix it.  In particular, managers in companies need to clearly set expectations and hold the workers, young and older, accountable for results.

Instead of griping about the lack of professionalism, we need to introduce workers to the performance and behavioral expectations of our businesses and then hold them accountable.

Yes, it sounds a lot like we are taking over the responsibility of parents and educators.  But we may have no alternative other than to teach workers about the work ethic that our organizations value and reward.

One of the ways we work with clients to manage the work ethic and professionalism within companies is through our Behavior Assessment.  To view the benefits of our Behavior Assessment, click on the link below:

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One Response to Professionalism Declining Among Younger Workers

  1. Phil Baglivo says:

    Rich,you hit the nail on the head!I get made as hell when these young Turks are late for meetings, unprepared, don’t know the facts, don’t return e-mails or phone calls on time etc. and don’t really care! Regards, Phil

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