My neighbor told me the other day that her grandson had quit his job because the place where he worked had too many rules. I've heard a lot of people express that opinion about their workplace. Since every place I ever worked had rules, I decided to find out more about this phenomenon.
The first young woman I questioned worked in a hospital. She said her employers were very strict about tardiness. If one was over a half-hour late, one's paycheck would be docked an hour's pay. If one was late five times in one month, the employee could be fired. She was adamant about the unfairness of those rules.
A young man who worked in a major hotel attending the needs of guests said his bosses were constantly addressing he and his co-workers about their personal appearances. According to his viewpoint the bosses were obsessed with their demands that the workers appear clean, and neat with their uniforms freshly laundered at all times. Even if the guests were rude, the employees were required to remain polite and courteous when dealing with them. He was so fed up with those rules that he had made up his mind to look for another job.
I remember several years ago when a young friend opened a woman's shelter and I asked her what the rules were, she insisted that there weren't any. After all, she declared, the women had suffered enough and she wanted them to feel free from rules. That attitude lasted about a month. When I revisited the shelter six months later, a list of rules was posted in the entryway.
Most people over the age of 50 can write a thesis on the subject of our declining work ethic. Many children who have grown up in the households of permissive parents have an extremely difficult time adjusting to a cold world that has expectations of them and is constantly making demands on them and their time. Every now and then I run into a smart kid who soon realizes that he is always going to be at odds with a work-a-day world unless he or she learns self-discipline. These kids usually wind up going back to school or enlisting in one of the military services.
I grew up on rules and I have always been happier in places where people have rules and enforce them. And, of course, like most workers I have encountered employers who arbitrarily establish rules for the sole purpose of controlling other people's lives. Fortunately, these individuals find it difficult to operate successful businesses, so for the most part that makes them few and far between. But, of course, when you operate in the realm of mega-corporations where greed is systemic and out-of control personalities reign, the rules change. In the everyday world, I have usually found that most employers devise rules necessary to operate a successful enterprise.
Unfortunately, I don't foresee any change ahead that will lead to the improvement of the work ethic. It seems to me the more technological advances that are made the less incentive many people have for applying themselves to the business of upgrading their work habits.
Maybe, if those in charge of training workers would concentrate on developing the proper attitude toward work and adjusting the personal habits of the worker to help them get to work on time and adapt to the environment of the workplace, instead of teaching them how to do the job, they might enjoy a more successful undertaking Frankly, I think that individuals who pride themselves on being able to operate a motor vehicle in traffic and text on their cell phone at the same time won't have a problem learning how to fry a hamburger. The difficulty seems to be in disciplining one's mind to prioritize one's time to be able to fit work in and tailoring one's thinking to honor the contract between one's self and one's employer.
And, believe it or not, the American worker has been doing that for centuries.
You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.