Economic Systems: Attitude to Work in Capitalism

Work attitudes

Sheehy recounts his encounter with workers with a “don’t-care attitude” during his undercover activities. These workers only completed the assigned task because they needed to get paid, and as such, they were less concerned about how they performed tasks. They did not feel the need to be responsible for their duties and always went about their duties with less effort (Shaw, 2011). The workers had the attitude of, “let me do just enough work to get paid, the rest should be the duty of the managers or owners.”

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The report by Sheehy reminds me of the attitude of my former colleagues at a fast-food restaurant in New York, where I worked as a cashier. Although a few workers cared and were committed to their duties, however, most of them were not committed at all. To them, there was nothing to gain by going the extra mile to become more responsible and concerned with the activities of the business. These employees would sometimes even ignore customers when asked questions about the products on display, saying they had no knowledge about them. To the workers, work meant doing just enough to get paid. Such an attitude is similar to what Sheehy notes in his report about his supposed colleagues. The most responsible thing for the workers would have been for them to report the death of the customer immediately they noticed it.

Implications for the work ethics described in the report

Sheehy explains that most of the workers at the restaurant were teenagers, and college students were yet to complete their education. Sheehy notes that the ethics established by this young generation could have serious negative implications on future business operations in the United States. They did not care about the quality of their products or services. They also had little respect for their supervisors. They were very dishonest and had a ‘get what-you-want approach. In their work. Besides, they held unrealistic expectations about their future work experience.

This generation is likely to bring this relaxed attitude into the corporate world. There is the likelihood that in the near future, companies in the United States will employ workers who lack real vision in their work and therefore, cannot drive companies to achieve their objectives, visions, and missions. Such employees will still believe that moving the company forward is solely the responsibility of the managers. Such workers who are not sensitive to the quality of work or services offered to customers could increase the Cost of Poor Quality in a company’s annual sales (MetricStream Inc., 2011).

They lack the capacity to transform successful firms into real profitable companies marginally. This also means that American businesses will lack local executives who can be trusted with the proper management of companies. Such dishonest individuals could become great fraudsters who would end up fleecing companies’ accounts or stealing companies’ assets. Thus, more companies would become bankrupt.

Need for workers to be devoted to a capitalist society

Capitalism is an ideal economic system whereby major production and distribution activities are left to the private owners operating under a market/profit system. In a market system, businesses operate under a market economy whereby markets are liberalized (Heilbroner, 2008). This means that the government has minimal control over business operations. The market is highly characterized and regulated by competition among businesses and companies.

Therefore, businesses/companies have to be more innovative and adopt the best strategies in order to survive in the market. In a capitalist society, workers are paid whether or not the business makes a profit (Heilbroner, 2008). This, therefore, means that workers have to be more devoted to their work. This is contrary to what was noted in Sheehy’s report since, in order to survive in the market, companies have to produce value-added quality and services. Owners/shareholders entrust workers with the responsibility of driving their vision and work towards the achievement of the business’s core objective.

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The reasoning behind employee theft

Sheehy explains that the theft incidents in the restaurant by the younger employees were like gamesmanship in which all of them had to participate. These workers tend to come up with queer reasons to justify their theft behavior. The younger colleagues of Sheehy believe that whatever they stole from the restaurant was insignificant compared with the assets and worth of the restaurant. After all, they were not part of the management, and neither did they have a stake in the restaurant. They also believed that they were only there for a short time, and whatever happened thereafter would not be of concern to them. They believed that they would get better jobs elsewhere in bigger companies when they finally finished their education.

Why the capitalist culture encourages negative work attitudes among workers

The nature of capitalism highly contributes to the “I don’t-care” attitude among workers. In a capitalist system, workers are regarded as the tools of production, and therefore their duty is to produce more products to be taken to the market without concern for their welfare (Heilbroner, 2008). When an organization does not take care of the welfare of its workers, they become less concerned about the goals of the organization, quality, and services. Given that workers in this system are compensated whether the company makes a profit or not, they become less responsible and less committed in their work.

In a capitalist society, profits do not translate into workers; instead, owners of the firm use the profits to expand the business (Heilbroner, 2008). Workers continue to earn the amount stipulated in their contract letters despite their hard work, and this contributes to increased revenues. They, therefore, feel unappreciated for their contribution to the success of the company. They also feel less motivated to perform their duties. Unappreciated workers tend to develop a negative attitude towards the company and the management. This could contribute to the situation noted by Sheehy in his report.

Reference List

Heilbroner, R. L. (2008). Capitalism: New Palgrave dictionary of economics, Second Edition. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

MetricStream Inc. (2011). What is your company’s cost of poor quality (CoPQ): Tools for calculating and reducing it. Web.

Shaw, W.H. (2011). Business ethics, 2010 custom edition. Mason, OH: West Educational Publishing.

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