June 6, 2014 | In: Opinion

Why Work Ethics Are at an All Time Low

Everywhere I go and everywhere I look, I see low work ethics or no work ethics. I’ll list some examples that I’ve seen in real life:

  • A customer care representative yelling at a client, in front of other clients, in a mobile shop.
  • A programmer minimizing the blue Facebook window when a manager passes by.

  • A programmer who doesn’t even test his own code, claiming that his job doesn’t include any testing.

  • A designer working freelance for a client while on full-time payroll for another company.

  • A bus driver who stops working before his shift is over.

  • An employee publicly bashing his company on social media, and then getting support and attention from his ilk when he eventually gets fired.

  • A construction worker trying to work as slowly as possible so as to get paid much more while working much less.

  • A janitor who’s not at his desk most of the time.

  • An employee calling in sick for 3 days in a row while vacationing somewhere sunny.

  • A doctor asserting that the aforementioned employee was indeed sick.

  • A doctor prescribing specific drugs, not because they’re effective, but because he was paid by a pharmaceutical company to do so.

  • An employee applying for other jobs during working hours.

  • An employee taking a very long lunch break so that he can go to job interviews.

  • A project manager deliberately hiding the real status of the project from his stakeholders because, by the time all the mess is revealed, he’s sure he’ll be working for another company.

  • An employee who literally does nothing the whole day (there are many people like this and they are very abundant in large companies).

  • A plumber who doesn’t fix the problem but claims he did.

  • A postman who claims that he tried to deliver a parcel but didn’t find anyone in the house, when he didn’t even go to the house in the first place.

  • A woman hiding the fact that she’s 3 month pregnant before applying for a job, and then, 6 months in, taking a 1 year paid vacation to raise her child, then returning to work, and repeating the whole process again within 6 months.

  • A lawyer working against the best interest of his client.

  • A salesperson (who doesn’t get any commission) whatsapping while you’re wondering around the store seeking help.

  • A salesperson (who gets commission) completely ignoring clients whose sales might not generate a commission worth his time.

I can think of many other examples that I’ve seen, in real life, and I’m sure that many of you have seen as well. My question is, what happened? Why is it, that all of a sudden, nobody cares about work ethics? Why is that nobody believes that pretending to work is equivalent to stealing?

When I was at school, the teachers used to tell us, those of you who don’t study are thieves; they steal their parents’ money. I believed that then and I believe it now. In this day and age, I don’t believe that many people think the same way anymore.

What happened for the whole world to reach new lows every day when it comes to work ethics?

I think there are several reasons for this phenomenon:

  • People think that they are entitled for better jobs. I have no idea what’s the cause of this symptom.
  • People think that the world owes them something (while, in reality, it’s the other way around for most people).

  • Many families right now are broken. Families are the essence of everything good in one’s heart and mind, once broken, all that good is no more. A broken family means broken ethics.

  • Governments, especially in the Western hemisphere, provide too much benefits for those who do not work.

  • Management is becoming more and more meaner.

  • Corporate culture has changed from retaining the best employees to making the most profit. There are still some companies that are not like that, but they’re not a lot and they’re quickly getting eradicated.

  • There’s just too many distractions nowadays. A few decades ago, the only distraction was the TV, and there were no TVs at work. Nowadays, we have phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops, video games. There are just too many ways to waste one’s life on unproductive (yet fun things), instead of focusing on what’s important.

  • There is zero corporate ethic. We currently live in an age where a company sees no problem of stealing a resource working for another company, which results in resources having zero loyalty to their previous and their current company.

  • Most people are working in jobs they don’t like. I guess that relates to the whole education system, where one is suddenly cornered to make a career choice prior to going to the university, and eventually making the wrong decision.

  • The education system has changed from non-profit to for-profit some time ago. Of course, in the eyes of every single government in the world, it is still non-profit. This has resulted in a workforce with a much lower dexterity.

  • Schools no longer promote good ethics and obscene behavior is becoming more prominent/acceptable at schools. Teachers used to hit us on the slightest mistake, now, if a child is morally injured, it is a big scandal and the teacher will get fired.

  • Most companies nowadays take Mickey Mouse certifications into consideration when hiring a candidate. I a firm believer that certifications amount to nothing without being supported by a solid work experience. In fact, the work experience is what really matters.

  • Too much pampering in the present, and not a single guarantee for the future. Many companies nowadays pamper their employees too much and give them too much leeway (e.g. allowing them to work from home, having a daycare/playroom/free cafeteria in-house, giving long vacations, etc…), but these same companies do not guarantee the future of their employees. Most employees wonder: “What happens when I’m 50, will they replace me with someone younger? Or will they let me do my job until I can’t do it anymore?” Companies never address these concerns because they’re sure that they are going to replace those employees (with the exception of the elite few).

  • The abuse of anti-discrimination laws. Nowadays, if an employee is slightly reprimanded, then he’ll make up stories that s/he was singled out because s/he was of a certain gender, or a certain ethnicity, or a certain religion. This has resulted in a toxic environment, where everyone has to be politically correct, at the risk of getting sued. This has also resulted in a state where these bad employees control the show (or at least have a say over management).

  • The concept of startups. I received an email a couple of days ago from a “friend” that stated that she, and her husband, were planning a startup and that they’re amassing money. She wasn’t the least subtle about the fact that the ultimate goal of this startup is to sell it to a Google or a Microsoft, amass the money, and laugh all the way to the bank. She wanted $250,000 to fund her stupid startup, and that $250,000 constituted about 5% of the total shares in her (again, stupid) company. Pardon me, but I believe this is a scam, and when you’re working for a scammy company, you really are not required to have any work ethics (unless, of course, you don’t know who you’re working for, which makes you a big sucker).

  • The concept of outsourcing. Outsourcing is, by far, the worst concept devised in the business world. It does create the illusion of increased profitability, but what it really does is disengaging employees and reducing their loyalty. Why should an employee be loyal to a company that is willing to replace him with another, cheaper resource located thousands of miles away if it had the chance?

I can think of many other reasons of why work ethics are at an all time low, but I think I’ve made my point. The problem is that this phenomenon is affecting the quality of every single product/service we buy, so it should not and cannot continue. The question is, is there anything that can be done to right all this wrong? I have no idea.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

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