Has the Great Montana Work Ethic Gone Away? Some Say Yes
As we celebrate Labor Day Weekend, that got me thinking about, well...Labor. I had my first Radio Morning Show when I was 19 years old. I made 4.25 an hour. Now, granted that was almost 30 years ago, but when I see all of these job openings around Bozeman and they are starting out at 17, 18, 19, or 20 dollars an hour, plus many are offering tips and sign-on bonuses. I think "Man, times have changed."
The truth is, times have changed.
Several businesses are struggling to find folks to work. It's not only a problem here in Bozeman and Montana, but all over the United States. Why? Why is it so hard to find people to work, especially when employers are offering really good starting wages?
I recently had a conversation with a manager of one of the stores here in Bozeman. She was telling my wife and me that it's a completely different world than it was a few years back.
She told us about how whenever they hire young people, often it doesn't last long. "We hired someone and they went through orientation, once they started it wasn't very long until they filed a complaint to HR." She said. When I asked why they complained, she said "I asked them to do something that was part of their job and they didn't like it, so they reported that I hurt their feelings."
When I was a kid, I couldn't wait to get a job. The reason? Because growing up in the house of John and Diane, it was made very clear that if you wanted money to buy things, you needed to work.
So, I started my working career at 12 with a paper route. I continued to work through high school, while still passing my classes, plus participating in extra circular school activities. Somehow I survived.
However, I don't want to be so quick to judge and put the blame on "young people". After all, are they not a product of their environment? Wouldn't it be their parents that should be held responsible for their poor behavior?
Plus, we've been in a Global Pandemic for the last 18 months or so, where every day the news tells us if we go outside and get within 6 feet of another human, we might die. I'm guessing that's had an effect as well.
So, has the great Montana work ethic gone away?
Some say yes, but I don't think so. I think people are people and they will do whatever is necessary to get what they want. Maybe the key to the current worker shortage is offering the people what they want? A safe space? Free fancy coffee drinks? Free college?
Me? I want money, but I'm old fashioned that way.