What Happened to Work Ethic?

Blame it on the pandemic for changing the behavior and attitudes of millions of Americans — especially the American worker. When workers were forced to work from home, we were given (though not by design) the opportunity to reevaluate our priorities. 

office staff meeting around conference table

To summarize several studies, what America workers now say is more important:

  • Be and stay healthy.
  • Eat right; exercise often.
  • Pay equal attention to physical vs mental health.
  • Appreciate life over a job.
  • Put personal freedom above financial goals.
  • Rely less on large gatherings for entertainment.
  • Put relationships above a standard of living.
  • Put our own views ahead of public health officials and politicians.

Basically, American workers, post-pandemic, look at life as is more important that a job, and if that job can be performed over a computer from home, that’s even better.

It’s a far cry from the pre-pandemic times with life centered around the workplace and companies dreamed of expansion to multiple locations. How an office looked, worked, and functioned were considerations when deciding where to work. Now, it’s not about space, it’s about people…and the shift requires big changes in how companies shape, manage, tend, and lead their people.

The American work ethic in terms of productivity, creativity, and resourcefulness has not changed … after all, we are still proud, free, and strive for success. So employers are understanding the importance of offering, where possible, flexibility to work remotely. The challenge to reengage people back into the office, at least for the foreseeable future, is dim.

On reflection, is it so bad to want to be near our children and loved ones, putting fewer miles on our car, eating lunch from the refrigerator rather than a restaurant, and still be a contributing factor to the American workforce? History will know soon enough.