Hard Work

Work Ethic is the “secret sauce” of your 20s

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.

5 replies »

  1. This is one I have a very hard time with. Been there, done that, burnt the t-shirt.
    From the corporate view you are talking the “Golden Girl/Boy”. The one who puts in 110% all the time. Always available, always responsible for their actions, accountable for their mistakes, constantly putting the corporate image first and dedicated. I believe at one time it was referred to as the “Protestant work ethic”.
    While in the corp[orate world I fashioned myself after this group of people. They were exceptional leaders, all who rose to the top of their profession and stayed there until retirement. At their retirement dues there were a long list of co-workers spouting a long list of accomplishments in the corporate world with an impressive number of leadership qualities. The only thing missing at these retirement dues were their families. Almost half of these retirees died within six to nine months of retiring.
    Wake up call. That was the direction I was headed in. I’d already lost my wife followed by my kids shortly after. I remember thinking, “Their loss! I’d have even more time to become successful.” Thank God that my success to that point threatened someone above me and they manage to convince those that have the power to fire me without cause.
    When I took stock of myself at that point it was a sad picture. I could have stepped back into corporate life easily. That was not a concern to me. What was the concern was that I had no LIFE outside of the corporate shell. Before the corporate world I had had a LIFE. There was even time to court a beautiful woman and get married. Somehow I ended up not having enough time to keep her interest in me.
    The world has changed for me and I have no sympathy for the corporate model. I don’t necessarily agree with the graduates of today who do less expecting more. Having said that, I understand not wanting to become ensnared in the corporate model. Perhaps, with the financial woes of the world and corporations demanding more for less, the graduates see no chance of ever making the mark as the bar may now be set too high.
    I found the sacrifices I made to be too high of a cost. We may have a generation who are not willing to sacrifice at all. There can be a middle ground where graduates have a chance of attaining the mark and corporations are not try to become the next billion dollar profit company.
    I don’t argue against your stats. They are valid. “Why are they valid?”, is a more important question. Answering that may give insight into the next generation of leaders since they are leaving school today.

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