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Why our parents made better employees - and what you can learn from them

Why our parents made better employees - and what you can learn from them

When I was a child, my father left for work at 5.30am and didn't return until the early evening. He was a builder and, for that profession, long hours were quite normal.

When he arrived home, my father completed his chores. He took out the rubbish, mowed the lawn and fixed anything that needed to be fixed. He then sat down to dinner, where each of us Smith children told him our daily, animated stories followed by an update about what we did at school.

We then watched an hour of television as a family and it was off to bed.

When my father talked about his work, which was physical as much as mental, his only complaint was that an employee turned up five minutes late – it was never that they didn't work hard enough.

When I talk with others of my generation about how their families faired when it came to work, they tell a similar story: their parents went to work early, worked hard for a living and valued the fact that they had a job and received a pay cheque each week.

There is no doubt in my mind that our parents made better employees than today's generations. Here's why:

  • They were grateful to have a job when others didn't.
  • They believed when they were at work, they were there to work.
  • There were no texts, social media accounts to distract them or emails to send to a friend.
  • They had learned to respect their elders and therefore their bosses commanded their respect.
  • They knew they had to roll up their sleeves to get the job done.
  • They didn't take things personally. For instance when someone told them they were doing something incorrectly, they modified what they were doing.
  • They didn't chop and change jobs every few months on whim.
  • They knew that if they didn't work, they couldn't put food on the table.
  • They had no sense of entitlement and didn't compare themselves to their friends – instead, they rode their own race.
  • Sick leave was taken when they were sick: hangovers, headaches and late nights watching the soccer were neither an excuse, nor a practice.
  • If they didn't know how to do something, they learned.
Today, employees are so entitled that leaders feel they have to pander to their whims and provide more relevant workplaces. Today's leaders know that their employees will take off their allocated sick leave, regardless of whether they are sick or not.

Time has evolved, but I still admire our parents and their attitudes to the workplace. My hope is that the generation after the Millennials discover a little bit of 'old fashioned' work ethic and roll up their sleeves to achieve great results – for them and their employers.

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comment ( 1 )
  • Louna
    19 May 2015

    I agree and for me it is a generational problem. I mean the problem comes from the education. Childhood is easier and the "child-as-king" phenomen keeps increasing. This situation affects the working behaviors ...