As schools work harder than ever this year to be ready for next year’s new Common Core Standards that will replace Arizona Instrument for Measuring Standards (AIMS), there was a lively discussion from Marana School District officials during a recent chamber luncheon.

While much of the discussions centered around the Marana School District’s plans to work harder to prepare students for not only the workplace, but for life, some of the local business representatives raised an excellent point toward the end of the luncheon. One employer asked school officials, “What are schools doing to prepare this entitled generation for the workplace?”

Among the problems being brought up by some of our community’s employers was the fact that many of our young workers believe they should be able to talk on the phone, answer texts and communicate with their friends as needed while on the clock. Our young “entitled” want to earn high paychecks, but they don’t appear to want to do the hard work to earn it.

What I noticed as the issues were being brought up was how often the employers in the room were nodding in agreement. I was no exception.

Going from a reporter to being the one managing a staff has been an interesting learning curve, but also one that has opened my eyes to the reality of the students we are seeing coming out of high school and college. 

One big problem I am seeing is the way our young workers are dressing. In taking over as editor, one of my biggest goals has been to establish a strong program for interns. I am a big proponent of helping these students in a true workplace atmosphere before they earn their degree.

So, in working to get the intern program under way, I have seen a lot of signs of the problems to come. The main problem we are having at The Explorer is with dress code. I just didn’t think it would be a big concern with having juniors and seniors in college come into our office to serve as reporters, photographers and graphic designers.

However, on one occasion one of our young writers came in with short shorts, flip flops and a top that hung partially off the right shoulder. Needless to say, our human resources manager had a few words for me that day, because after all, she was my responsibility.

I would love to say that’s the first and only time such a thing has happened over the last year, but I can’t. I have had to warn incoming interns multiple times about how to dress in a business environment. I asked one of them if a teacher, whether in high school or college, has talked to them about it. She said no.

Needless to say, one of the changes I implemented in the intern guidelines over the last year was how they are supposed to dress.

After the chamber luncheon, the problems with work ethics and respect for employers became even more evident in a Facebook conversation I chose to engage in. One of my young friends, who is now 19, talked about his job interview for a local bank. Given that he has multiple piercings, including a ring in his nose, I pointed out to him that he might want to remove the earrings and nose rings before he went to the interview.

Immediately his friend chimed in, stating we are superficial and not letting them express themselves. After telling him that it’s not about how they want to dress, but instead, how they are required to dress for a job where an employer is paying them money to do a specific job.

I do agree, however, that it’s not only up to the schools to work to instill better work ethics into our younger generation. Parents need to be part of those teachings.

Unfortunately, based on the conversation at the Marana Chamber luncheon, and then the one on Facebook, I am confident in saying this sense of “entitlement” in our young employees doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

(1) comment

John J Flanagan

I can't agree with you more, Thelma. In some respects, the "entitled" workers who have been programmed to dress too casually in the workplace environment do so because they think it has become an accepted norm.
This problem started a long time ago. I was a NYS Inspector for 35 years and in the beginning of my career, all of the inspectors wore white shirts and ties while visiting and inspecting facilities under our jurisdiction.
In the 1970's, casual dress became acceptable and somehow the public sector unions managed to eliminate a dress code, or at least make it optional. While I still wore a dress shirt and tie, many other inspectors began to wear jeans, sneakers, sloppy coats and the appearance of field personnel became very casual.
Bear in mind, a state inspector is visiting corporations, talking to CEO's, as well as shop owners and the general public while performing investigative and regulatory duties. Supervisors could not even require the field staff to wear ties and dress slacks, while we, as supervisors, did maintain a professional appearance.
I've had corporation presidents remark to me that one of the state inspectors visiting his facility was dressed so sloppy, that he could not respect him as an official of the government, and furthermore, that if he were his employee, he would have sent him home.
In my view, a dress code should be enforced. Americans need to relearn the lessons of good appearance makes for better professionalism in the workplace. It can be done, but it requires the courage to make it happen by insisting on it.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.