Is the Quality of American Workers Going Downhill?


I know that there are millions of quality workers in America, but there is no denying that the overall trend in quality is not what it used to be.

When I entered the workforce, most young people were taught to be punctual, polite, responsible and hard working. Few employers tolerated tardiness or laziness from their workers.

By my mid-twenties I had already worked my way into management where I had up to 80 people working for me. I managed with two rules that my dad taught me: 1) always treat your people the way you want to be treated and 2) never ask anyone to do anything that you are not willing to do yourself. Consequently, I had a number of employees that were exceptional and responsible because I managed by those two rules. However on the flip side, if an employee did not work up to standards, was habitually tardy, rude to customers or stole, I had no problem firing them.

Forty years later, things have changed in conjunction with the moral and cultural decay of America. Many younger employees don’t have the same work ethics that once prevailed among the American workforce.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York conducted the Empire State Manufacturing Survey/Business Leaders Survey and found a startling trend that does not bode well for many American businesses. According to their report:

“In this month’s survey, respondents were asked about filling job openings, finding workers proficient in select skill categories, and raising wages and salaries over the next twelve months. Some of these questions had been asked in surveys conducted in April 2014 and earlier.”

While many of the responses from leaders in the manufacturing and business sectors seems to indicate that job market is looking up, there were a couple of figures that reflected directly on the quality or should I say lack of quality among workers and new hires.

One of the categories was ‘interpersonal skills’ which is the ability to work with others and carry on intelligent conversations with co-workers and customers. Leaders had a scale in which to grade their employees from no difficulty to great difficulty. In the manufacturing area, the overall difficulty in interpersonal skills was 60.2%. In the business sector, it was only 48.5%, but that’s still nearly half of all workers having difficulty working with and communicating with others.

The second category that painted a bleak picture dealt with punctuality and reliability. Faced with the same grading scale, 65.4% of manufacturing leaders said this was a difficult area for their employees. In the business sector the difficulty factor for punctuality and reliability was 42.1%, which I would still consider quite high.

Before I left the public and private workforce (I now work from home) I noticed that a growing number of employees really don’t care about being to work on time nor do they seem concerned about their lack of communication skills. This poor attitude also shows up in their other work ethics. They tend to be more wasteful of time and materials with little concern of how much it costs the company they work for.

But what can you expect from a society that has lost much of its values and ethics over the past 40-50 years. Once they lose respect for God and Christianity, they lose respect for others and themselves. That disrespect creates a lack of concern about jobs and personal responsibilities and today’s job market, divorce rates, out of wedlock children and failed public school systems are prime examples.

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