The future of the workplace and whether employees will return to offices partially or fully presents an interesting set of questions for employers and employees. As with many complex issues, “it depends” is a common answer because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. A recent article in The Atlantic by Derek Thompson “America’s Fever of Workaholism is Finally Breaking” referenced a recent study that found that for the first time since the early 80s, wealthy Americans are working less than in the past.
In attempting to explain one possible reason why rich Americans have been working more and more over the past several decades, he stated that “In a time of declining religiosity, rich Americans seemed to turn to their careers to fill the spiritual vacuum at the center of their life.” This theory seems like a bit of a stretch to me, but the concept set up what I saw as the most interesting part of the article.
Later in the article, he addressed American values and referenced how columnist and author David Brooks “has distinguished between what he calls ‘resume virtues’ and ‘eulogy virtues.’ Resume virtues are what people bring to the marketplace: Are they clever, devoted, and ambitious employees? Eulogy virtues are what they bring to relationships not governed by the market. Are they kind, honest, and faithful partners and friends?”
One would think that parents would favor eulogy virtues when considering values that their children should have. However, that was not the case according to a Pew Research study. “This year, Pew Research Center asked American Parents: What accomplishments or values are most important for your children as they become adults? Nearly nine in 10 parents named financial security or ‘jobs or careers [our children] enjoy’ as their top value.” For parents in this study, career success outweighed all the eulogy virtues.
We’re all aware of the crisis in teenage mental health. Social media and screen time are likely contributors to this problem but maybe a society that appears to favor professional success over moral and ethical values is partly to blame. I don’t believe all parents think that professional success is more important than being a good person with strong values but maybe we are sending mixed messages. We may want to carefully consider how we promote the proper value system to the next generation and how we model those values in our own lives.
Take care and stay safe.
Slow Horses Season 2 (Apple TV)
Following a dysfunctional team of MI5 agents -- and their obnoxious boss, the notorious Jackson Lamb -- as they navigate the espionage world's smoke and mirrors to defend England from sinister forces.