As those of us in the world of business begin to add years (or decades) to our tenure, it becomes easier than ever to look at the younger crop of workers coming onstream and see traits that don’t align with our worldview about what is acceptable, “SFW” behavior.
Perhaps we’re too set in our ways. Maybe we’re not being flexible enough or making a sufficient effort to keep an open mind about proper office professionalism and etiquette.
But maybe we’re not offbase after all: A new survey of HR professionals suggests that others have also noticed — and they’re not very forgiving, either.
In fact, this survey of ~400 human resources managers, which was conducted by the Center for Professional Excellence at York College, found that opinions of recent college graduates in the workforce have grown more negative over the past five years. (The survey is conducted annually.)
When asked about their experiences in recruiting and hiring recent college graduates, these HR managers were pretty unsparing in their criticism. Here are some of the opinions the survey uncovered:
- More than one-third of HR respondents felt that the level of professionalism among new college-educated employees has worsened over the past five years.
- Nearly half believe that the work ethic of new employees is worse today than before.
- More than half of the respondents feel that new workers come into the workforce with an unrealistic air of entitlement.
What are some of the specific areas where HR managers see new hires failing to measure up? These were the most prevalent mentions in the York survey:
- Appropriate appearance and dress
- Punctuality and workplace attendance
- Staying on-task through to completion of assignments
And that’s not all.
The human resources professionals in this survey reported that younger employees “appear arrogant” during the hiring process and once they come on the job.
Moreover, these HR professionals contend that new employees aren’t taking proper cues from older, more established workers in the office, but instead from their peers and friends.
A manifestation of this is the predilection to text co-workers rather than to communicate via e-mail messages, or through personal conversations and interfaces.
The basic problem with the attitudes of new company hires was pointed out by Deborah Ricker, director of the Center for Professional Excellence: “Acceptable behavior among peers is not necessarily acceptable among coworkers and superiors.”
Amen to that.
Most of us can probably think of one or two examples of employees who personify many of the issues brought up by the HR managers in the York survey.
One example that comes to my mind from our own office’s experience was a young worker who decided she needed to take short naps during her lunch periods.
Nothing really wrong with that, except … she did so by lying down on the floor next to her desk — which was directly behind another worker’s cubicle. Imagine trying to do your work while having someone snoozing (snoring) at your feet!
If you have similar anecdotes about some of the younger hires in your office, feel free to leave a comment. It’ll be good for a chuckle or two – even if there’s an underlying context that’s way sober.