Being in your 20s sucks. For those of you currently in your 20s, it’s going to suck more. We’ve raised a generation of students who expect to receive a lot in exchange for doing very little. The result? Employers are reporting lower productivity, work ethic and focus among recent graduates in a study from York College of Pennsylvania. Click here to get access to detailed reports.
How has the work ethic of new employees changed over the past five years? 44.6% of the respondents indicate the work ethic has gotten worse.
Reasons commonly cited for the decline in work ethic include:
- Too casual of an attitude towards work (86.6%)
- Not being self-driven (71.5%)
- Lack of ownership of one’s work (69.3%)
- Not understanding what hard work is (65.9%)
- Willingness to do work that is less than professional quality (59.8%).
According to Professor Meg Jay, our twenties are a defining decade. They account for 70% of our wage growth, they are when you learn how to be effective in the workplace and when you develop expertise.
People in their 20s are facing a dismal future. Increasing competition from abroad, combined with increasing numbers of university graduates means it is harder to get that first professional job.
According to Graham Robertson, of Beloved Brands, your 20s are a period of investment – the time you invest time, money, focus and energy to build your expertise. In your 30s you begin to reap the rewards of that investment. In your 40s and 50s you harvest your investment. The bottom line is that attaining leadership roles demands hard work and sacrifice. Skipping this hard work in your 20s to have fun will leave you permanently behind your harder working friends. You’ll never get caught up.
Work ethic is critical to success. According to the York Study:
According to the most respondents (57.9%), the best way to get dismissed from a job is to have poor attendance and a lack of punctuality. The second most frequently mentioned way to lose a job is poor quality work (45.5%). A significant increase occurred in the percentage of respondents citing poor quality work, going from 25.7% in 2012 to 45.5% this year.
But there is some good news. Great leaders, no matter their age demonstrate a work ethic. Show up on time, be there all of the time, be committed to your job. Get used to those 55 hour work weeks. Speak up. Learn some humility. Respect those with whom you work. And for heaven’s sake, “good enough” isn’t good enough. In a highly competitive workplace, everything you do must be great. If you do these things, you will stand out from everyone else, propelling yourself to leadership roles.