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Younger generation lacks work ethic
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Forsyth County News

I was recently in a local shoe store trying on sandals for the summer when I heard a rather loud voice. It was female and she was riled up about something.

I made my way to the front of the store and observed a 23-year-old woman (who announced her age in an ongoing rant) complaining to the store cashier about how much she hated her job.

It was quite a scene. In the loudest voice possible, the woman said how she hated the store she worked in and all of the managers. They were “slave drivers,” she said. They treated the employees like dirt and had unrealistic expectations of workers.

At that point, I thought the store clerk (probably in her mid-30s) would offer some sort of guidance to the young woman. Instead, she joined right in, complaining about her job.

I pretended to look at shoes while I contemplated my next move. Should I insert myself into the conversation? An inner voice said, “Adlen, mind your own business.”

The two women went on and on about how terrible their bosses and managers were and how they didn’t make enough money. The mother in me took over.

First I politely asked where the 23-year-old worked, really just to insert myself into the mix. Then, I asked how many hours she worked. I began talking about how I know so many people who are underemployed or unemployed, and that in so many ways she should be thankful she has a job.

Then she told me she is also a student and her job had caused her to fail two classes. Ugh. More blame.

I tried again, but it was to no avail. If she were my daughter, of course, things would have gone differently, but I realized she wasn’t interested in my opinion or thoughts. I had to let it go.

Do you think young people nowadays have the same work ethic we did when we were young? There are always exceptions, but as a whole, I don’t think they do.

I talk to many people on a daily basis, and so many managers and business owners tell me finding people who are willing to be at work on time and always do their best is difficult. Especially when it comes to entry-level jobs.

One manager of a large store told me he knows for a fact that many young people would rather be on government assistance than work a “lowly” job.

How can you explain to young people that nobody, no matter how successful they are, started at the top of their field? This notion of entitlement seems to be widespread and worrisome for the younger generation.

Perhaps every age group feels this way about those younger than themselves. I well remember my parents reminding us as kids that “money doesn’t grow on trees.”

I remember our children asking for things, and when we said it cost such and such, they urged us to just go to the ATM. I know our children got so tired of me telling them that living where we do is more like Disneyland than the real world.

I used to lament to them that it’s not normal to go to a school where the student parking lot is filled with cars much newer than those teachers drive.

I have long said that raising grounded children in an affluent area with all of the influences of TV and computers is one of the most challenging things for parents.

That being said, we can never give up trying. I am heartened to know so many young people who are hard workers and do seem to have a good work ethic.

Perhaps those young people are the ones who will have more influence on people like that 23-year-old.

In the meantime, if you have enjoyed success in life and know some young people, please remind them how you began and how hard you worked to achieve success.

Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at