Real Time Rant | Has the Work Ethic Changed?

Okay, so this post isn’t going to be like my others. I may lean into a rant here but I have a serious question: has the work ethic changed? And has it changed especially in millennials?

I am 25, which actually means I’m supposed to be a GEN Y baby (1980 – 2000). That spans a lot of years, but I’ll take it.

My issue is with the ever-changing work ethic of 15, 16, 17 year old’s etc. that I see in customer service every day and who hardly do a damn thing but want more money.

Let’s filter back a bit; here’s a background on me and my jobs:

My first job was at Tim Hortons which is a national coffee chain in Canada. I was 16. It was horrible. It was the only job I’ve ever despised going into work at. The manager was an ass (he actually still runs the same Tims too), my co-workers were mainly mean (I was very shy back in the day), and to give you some background on how this was run – my trainer left me after two hours on my first day. I lasted 2 months and then I quit on the spot.

My second job was at Country Style about eight months after Tims; another coffee chain. The owners were a married couple who loved me. I worked there for a year and a half before having to leave for college. I got a raise while working there due to my work ethic. Some of my hours ranged from 6am to 2pm, and I was 17.

I worked at Walmart for one summer between college. They treat their employees great with a little over minimum wage and some great breaks. I didn’t love my co-workers but once I got the hang of cashing out, it was a breeze to do and the days went by quick.

I worked in an office for two summers as part of a staff/student program (meaning you had to be related to someone who worked at the company to get a position). It was so friggen boring. But oh, the pay was amazing and that’s probably why they paid us so much because it was boring. You either had the choice of working outside doing grunge work or working in a department in one of the offices. I basically photo-copied all day. But my savings account thanks me every day.

The last job I’ve had, the one I’ve been with for over three years is at Plato’s Closet. It’s a North American “thrift” type store where people sell clothes to you (70% less than retail value) and we pay them a portion of what we sell it for. I started out as a sales associate here and worked my way up to manager within the three years.

I have seen teens come and go from all my jobs; I have seen horrible bosses and I like to think that I’m a pretty darn good manager.

I allow my staff to book time off (sometimes too much in the past), we don’t have to wear uniforms all the time, and most of the shifts are short (4-5 hours).

And yet, this year I have seen such a decrease in work ethic and an increase in excuses with my staff as well as other Plato’s staff (stories we hear from other locations too!).

Thankfully, our scheduling website keeps a record of who has requested days off and their reasons so myself and my managers can keep track of how many days people have booked off and we can see if they are trying to trick us, which believe it or not, has happened.

I had one staff member book off holidays always last minute. We tried speaking with her that she had about half the holidays already booked off for the year and we couldn’t accommodate the one she was attempting to book off at that moment, and she explained “my grandma isn’t well and so our family tries to visit her when we all have days off which is usually holidays.” I gave her that weekend off, I did, but we explained that we would be less forgiving I guess with the amount of time off she would get in the future. Because guess what? Grandparents are old and a lot of them aren’t well (mine included) but I arrange to see them around the work schedule I already have.

Another staff member (this just happened recently) was scheduled to work until about 6 on a Saturday, but she called at 5pm saying that her mother texted her on her break and told her she had a doctor’s appointment at 6 that day. She had cleared it with her supervisors that it was slow enough that she could potentially leave but called me just to make sure. A background on her as well: the previous week she completely forgot she worked and didn’t show up for her shift (she was an extra, and we discussed it with her and kept her on because we are nice and understanding managers!!!!!). She said that her mom makes all her appointments so that she didn’t even know she had one today, but could she go? I said very sternly (because I was like WTF?) that this is the only time I would let her leave early like this and that next time she has to arrange appointments around her schedule (because guess what, she knew she has this shift for over a week and a half!).

Also the amount of staff who can’t come in for shifts due to being sick? And I’m not talking about vomiting/flu illnesses, I’m talking just a simple cough and cold. Take a dayquil and come to work. I had to go to the emergency room the night before last Black Friday because of what I assumed was a very bad case of strep throat (could barely swallow) from midnight until 2am, came home, took my medication, and work up at 7:30am to go to work and work Black Friday from 9-5. So, do not tell me you have a cough and you can’t come in. No one would have been able to take my shift last year, but I had to work it because we needed all the help we could get; it was our first Black Friday event and it was insane. I suffered through it and I was fine. You’ll be fine too.

We had an issue in one of the other locations recently too where normally on a Sunday there are 5 staff working. Three of them called in sick, and none of the other 10 staff were able to cover any of the shifts, so the owner had to come in and work a full day. Our owners do not work in the store anymore, they work on the store (marketing, inventory etc.) so you know it’s bad if one of them has to come in and cover a shift.

I don’t want to rant about all my staff because most of them are great. There’s just been a handful of them recently and recent hires (some have lasted, some haven’t) who exhibit this decrease in work ethic but seem happy that they get paid the good minimum wage we have here in Ontario ($11.25 now I think?). When an employee can’t even change a garbage properly after a couple weeks of hiring them, it makes me wonder if they are seriously cut out for this job. If they are unable to do the basic items, how can I expect them to understand how to buy clothing, how to cash out on our system etc.?

I’m hoping this is just a phase right now, and maybe although it’s a little ways away, that once the New Year comes maybe this little epidemic will end. Overall, I have a select few amazing staff, some good staff and a couple not-so-great-maybe-part-of-the-epidemic staff.

Some people might find that I’m being nitpicky about items, and to each their own, but when you start dealing with fifteen staff members under you and 2/3 of them are high school kids, please tell me how to lead them better. Because I try. I try so dang hard to be a stern voice of reason. I don’t want to be mean like my first boss, but I can’t let them walk all over me. I started out willing to listen to all these issues and excuses, but now I see them for what they really are: EXCUSES.

I love my job and I love all my staff. They are all great people, just some don’t have a great work ethic. And with some of the leniency we have here, I wonder if they would be good staff any where else.

I’m sure whenever I do leave this job, I could write a book about all the different excuses I got from staff who were ever late. Maybe that will be a best seller someday.

 

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