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What’s Professionalism Got to Do with It?

February 2, 2015 | Staffing Blog

Professionalism At Work

Is the younger generation of workers lacking in professionalism and work ethic? According to a new study from York College of Pennsylvania’s Center for Professional Excellence employers seem to think so.

The 2013 nationwide study on the state of professionalism in the workplace surveys those responsible for hiring recent college graduates. This was the fourth year of the study so researchers are beginning to look for trends. The bad news is they aren’t finding any improvements among professionalism in young workers.

What’s the problem?

  • More than 25% of the respondents said professionalism has decreased because of a sense of entitlement. More than half say they see an increase in the percentage of new employees who exhibit a sense of entitlement.
  • IT abuses are another common complaint with half of the survey respondents reporting an increase in such abuses over the last five years. The most common are sending text messages at inappropriate times, inappropriate use of the Internet, excessive use of Twitter/Facebook or using cell phones too much for personal calls.
  • More than 40% of respondents say work ethic has worsened. They cite such common issues as too casual of an attitude toward work, not being self-driven, not understanding what hard work is or a willingness to do work that is less than professional quality.

According to the study, employers characterize professional workers as having an appropriate appearance, good interpersonal skills and being punctual, honest and focused. On the flip side, unprofessional employees are seen as dressing inappropriately and being unfocused, apathetic, disrespectful, rude and lacking in time management.

So what’s the solution?

HR professionals and hiring managers need to come to terms with this new generation of workers and adapt their strategies to better communicate their expectations. They may also need to provide additional on-the-job training in interpersonal skills.

As our society changes, employers also may need to reassess what they define as professional. A more casual dress code and using technology at work are part of the way we live. It’s part of the challenge of managing multiple generations in one workplace.

Lastly this points to the importance of a solid hiring process in which employers take the time to get to know potential hires and truly assess whether they are a good fit for the organization.