SHOP FORUM: Where have all the (good) employees gone?
Tom Ham writes:
"Where have all the employees gone? More accurately, the good employees?
"Many don't want to work, and with all the 'benefits' today they don't have to. Then there are those who want to work but can't. Basic life skills are missing. Following simple instructions, showing up on time, accuracy, organization, reading, writing, adding, subtracting, grooming, cleanliness, talking, listening, honesty, responsibility, etc. When they are brought up to believe that none of those things are important, that's the result we should expect. 'But all the tattoos and body piercings sure look great!' said no customer, ever.
"That leaves an ever decreasing pool of reasonably decent (not perfect) employable people. How do we fix it? Since it took a generation or two for the government and the educational system to ruin our culture, it will take a lot of time and a lot of effort to improve things in a significant way. We have changed from 'Why would anyone home school?' to 'Why would anyone not home school?'
"At least, those are my thoughts. What are yours?"
A shop owner in Fuquay Varina, N.C., responds:
"I think we would be foolish if we thought we were the first generation to feel this way. Imagine how hard it was to find good employees after World War II—a butt load of the generation was dead or had spent the prior few years killing people for a living.
"It's up to us as entrepreneurs to find the potential and help mold it into what we want. The thankless part is when we're done, they will take what we taught them, dump us and go find greener pastures. It's the way of the world.
"As to the net effects of the incentives not to work, well, all I know to say to that is that it is our responsibility as Americans to vote the way we feel and to campaign for the things we believe in. I was never handed anything, but I have had to hand out a lot."
A shop owner in Hamburg, Mich., replies:
"As a dad of teenagers, I have seen first hand how kids today lack the general good character that used to be taken for granted as common knowledge. Why is this? Because that is what is modeled for them by their parents. We can't blame it totally on the government, although the government has done nothing to stop the decline of the family.
"It basically started 30-plus years ago, when young people were convinced that they couldn't trust adults and God began to be removed from schools and everywhere but church. And the breakdown has continued. Basically, people today live their lives and are never taught that there is a God that we will stand before when we die. If we are never held accountable for our actions, then it is no big deal if we steal, or lie or don't show up for work. And you also have parents that are too busy to spend time with their children and teach them basic manners and respect for themselves and others.
"There has been an assault on the family from many angles, and until the family unit is restored our culture will continue to degrade, and more and more people will look to the government to 'fix' our society. But truly what needs to happen is that everyone needs to take responsibility for themselves, their own family and their children. We as a country will need to do the hard things to restore our country to the greatness it was founded on. That starts with praying to God for mercy, returning to biblical principles and rebuilding the family.
"Home schooling can be part of the solution, but what it really comes down to is this: husband and wife taking responsibility for their children and taking an active role in teaching their children to be respectful, to work hard and to be grateful for everything they have been blessed with. They must model it for their children in the choices they make for themselves…. I do home school my children, but they learn more form what I say, what I do, how I treat my wife, how I treat them and how I run my business than they do from their school books. It is my responsibility to 'walk the walk' for them and others to see….
Another shop owner writes:
My 23-year-old son remarked the other day that the people who work for a living are being overwhelmed by the people who are voting themselves goodies. I pay my people extraordinarily well—and I've got a core group that has been with me for well over a decade—but the guys on the periphery seem to come and go, constantly searching for something easier. Notice that I said easier, not better.
"These are the ones who are afflicted by what I call 'beer and bait syndrome'—if they've got enough money for beer and bait, they just can't seem to make it to work. Unfortunately for our nation, we have political leaders on both sides of the isle who lack the courage to tell the American people the truth, and that is that there is no free lunch and you're going to have to work hard and live frugally in order to get ahead.
"True patriots, the people who get up and do their best every day for their family and their community, are hungry for leadership and are anxious for someone to step up to the mike and tell the 50-60 percent of us that don't want to hear that we've got to take some bitter medicine now for the sake of our children and our children's children. If that person doesn't materialize soon and put an end to the river of corrupt money that is eroding the integrity of our existing leadership, we're in for a rough ride. An observant, even-handed, aggressive press corps would sure be a plus, but that went away in 2008. I miss Tim Russert."
The questions and responses are posted on the Automotive Management Network website, which is operated by Deb and Tom Ham, owners of Auto Centric (formerly Ham's Automotive) in Grand Rapids, Mich. The comments have been edited for clarity and brevity.
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