August 28, 2014
Horrible Bosses was a smash hit in 2011. Its sequel will be
released in November.
Horrible Employees? Look for it in theaters next … never.
sacrilege, with Labor Day so close, but millions of Americans are dogging it on
the job. Employers and HR departments are rarely bold enough to aggressively
address the issue, but goldbricking is commonplace.
As a 2011 article in the
federal government’s Monthly Labor Review
noted, self-made estimates of hours devoted to employment err on the high side.
Even worse, they fail to account for “time spent using the Internet or
telephone for personal matters, having water-cooler discussions, daydreaming,
and doing dozens of other nonwork activities.” Eleven percent of the employees surveyed by
Salary.com in 2013 admitted to wasting “several hours per day … on non
Last month, an
online poll discovered that talkative coworkers were “the biggest annoyance
in the workplace.” Lee Hecht Harrison, “a global talent mobility company
focused on human resource services,” documented that at 45 percent, Chatty Cathies crushed the
complaints ranked in second (emails, 18 percent) and third (odors, 9 percent) places.
Leave time is another area of abuse. A 2007 analysis by the firm CCH calculated
that “two-thirds of U.S.
workers who call in sick at the last minute do so for reasons other than
is a 21st century productivity-killer. Facebooking, game-playing, shopping --
we’ve all done -- er, seen -- it. Last
from Kansas State University and Southern Illinois University revealed that
between “60 and 80 percent of people’s time on the Internet at work has nothing
to do with work.” Their study found that “young people” struggle to understand
why “social networking [is] unacceptable behavior.”
Millennials. Helicopter parenting, it’s being widely reported, is infesting the
workplace. Mommy and daddy are accompanying more applicants to job interviews. The
HR manager for a Denver
theme park told The Wall Street Journal
about receiving a call from the mother of a paid IT intern, who gushed about “how
talented her son was, and how he deserved much more [compensation], and that he
could make much more money outside of this position.”
pervasiveness of lazy, distracted, immature, and hooky-playing personnel
doesn’t conform to liberals’ narrative about “exploited” and “overworked” underlings
struggling to cope with the “time crunch” imposed by nefarious taskmasters.
Neither do the data on average hours logged per employee, which show a small but consistent
downward trend in the postwar
And let’s not
forget the growing aversion to working under any schedule. The share of the adult population
that is either employed or looking for a job peaked at 67.3 percent in
April 2000. It’s now down to 62.9 percent. The inevitable result of an aging society? Perhaps -- but that doesn’t explain why labor-force
participation for 25-to-54-year-olds began a decline in January 1999 from
which it has yet to recover.
recently, lengthier lives, better healthcare, and greater knowledge about
exercise and nutrition weren’t keeping Americans in the workplace longer. It
took the Bush-Obama
economic apocalypse to reverse the trend toward earlier retirements. A Gallup survey showed that
the average employee called it quits for good at a youthful 59 in 2002. It’s
climbed up to 62 -- and for the health of the economy and condition of Washington’s finances, it
should keep rising.
retains a cadre of midnight-oil-burning hustlers. Many still aspire to reach
the executive suite. Even more brutally brow-sweat to earn enough to launch their
own enterprises. Most immigrants come to The Land of the Free because they
recognize the opportunities available to those willing to give it their all.
employers are carrying a heavy burden of entitlement-minded duds. The slackers
who take advantage of inattentive managers and ridiculously inflexible union
contracts ought to heed Thaddeus Russell’s Labor Day scholarship. In a 2009
essay for The Boston Globe, the
historian expounded that when President Grover Cleveland signed the holiday
into law, “he and its sponsors intended it not as a celebration of leisure but
as a promotion of the great American work ethic. Work, they believed, was the
highest calling in life, and Labor Day was a reminder to get back to it. It was
placed at the end of summer to declare an end to the season of indolence, and
also to distance it from May Day, the spring event that had become a symbol of
the radical labor movement.”
The proper way
to celebrate Labor Day is to go to work on Monday.
D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.
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