Rotting from the head down

Jul 22 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

A number of stories have appeared recently that collectively suggest that change is afoot in the American workplace.

First came the New Employee Employer Equation survey from Age Wave and The Concours Group which found that many younger workers are deeply uncommitted to their jobs and often constituting a negative influence in the workforce.

Next up, Kelly Services found that a growing number of people are rejecting the traditional corporate life in favour freelancing, working on a contract or temporary basis, acting as independent consultants, or setting up their own businesses. These free agents now make up nearly a quarter of the total U.S. workforce, and the proportion is growing.

Then last week, a survey by America Online and found that those Americans who are at work admit to frittering away more than two hours every day surfing the web or chatting round the water cooler. So what's going on? Is America losing work ethic, or – as Dan Haar, writing in the Hardford Courant suggests – is the real issue that Americans "covet the economic power of the level above them."

There's a common bond - and a link - between these developments, based on a culture of entitlement. If it's a national trend, it's a reason to worry that the United States is losing its edge.

….From the top level to the bottom, there is a domino effect, which creates the link between Ebbers' and Rigas' shenanigans and you and me, squandering time we've pledged to our employers. Corruption at the top corrupts the whole ranks.

….In this culture, is it any wonder the clerks and bureaucrats, the clock-punchers and receivers of bosses' orders, react by goofing off for an average of two hours a day?

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