Does the Older Generation Have a Higher Work Ethic ?

After retiring from Nationwide Insurance in April I took a part-time job at Windward Passage. Windward Passage is my favorite restaurant and I host there three days a week. I have a friendly relationship with the staff manager at Windward and we often have discussions about the work ethic of our generation versus the work ethic of those generations that followed ours. The make up of waiters and waitresses at Windward is pretty much an even split between those under 35 and those over 50, but there is a big difference in how they both go about their work !  

I found this survey on the internet and thought it was quite interesting. The survey found that there are big differences between the generations on work ethic, moral values and respect for others and that today’s young adults believe that these differences have arisen because their generation has not lived up to the standards set by older adults.

According to the survey young respondents agree that older people have better work ethic (74%), respect for others (71%) and moral values (70%). It seems that early middle age adults and those slightly younger offer the harshest assessment of young people.

The older workers at Windward typically want to do as much of their job as possible on their own without much help, they are more prompt and are much more willing to pitch in and help fellow members of the team. Some of the younger workers at Windward tend to get by with a bare minimum amount of work, are typically less prompt and don’t pitch in to help fellow members of the team.

These were the findings in a book I just finished reading called Counter Culture – A History of the American Coffee Shop Waitress. According to the author the younger generation has been raised in a world filled with conveniences and inexpensive time saving gadgets, but somehow the more time we save, the less time they seem to have. Older waitresses remember what it was like to live without computers, calculators, cell phones and microwaves.

The author goes on to say that many older waitresses are frustrated with the casual nature and lackluster attitudes of younger servers, however the current generation is the most affluent generation in American history so they have high expectations for life. According to a recent survey many twenty to twenty nine year olds are in therapy due to job related identity issues. These kids are told that once they graduate from school jobs will be plentiful and when they find out that they aren’t they have to take whatever job they can get.

The younger generation, now dubbed the entitlement generation is frustrated and confused because they are starting to live out their lives with a cynical disbelief in the American Dream. Young girls who were bred to believe they were destined for greatness are now faced with the reality that life is full of detours and broken promises. The thought of being a waitress for an extended period of time worries these youngsters because the job entails physical labor compounded by the psychological strain of feeling like a servant or worse a nobody.  

I thought this Simpson video captured it best when Homer says to Lisa if you don’t like your job you don’t strike, but you do it half-assed, that’s the American Way ! I’m also reminded of the motto in the movie Tommy Boy, if at first you don’t succeed then lower your standards. I was thinking had I been asked to take this survey when I was younger would I have rated older people with higher work ethic, moral values and respect for others than myself ? Hmmm…….

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