A New Ethic for Work? The Worth Ethic

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John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


The American business community, particularly managers are confronted with understanding today's work force, which has become alienated from the tedium of the work place. High rates of worker absenteeism, tardiness, and, turnover, industrial sabotage, worker apathy, and decreasing rates of industrial efficiency and productivity are a few of the manifestations. To solve these problems managers need to understand the fundamental changes taking place in workers' attitudes and values, as well as the role of work in today's society. Today the old concept of work ethic has become questionable and a potentially new understanding of role of work in our society has emerged. This new understanding of work is conceptualized as the "Worth Ethic" and is a key to making sense of the problems facing today's managers. This research paper defines two key concepts--the work ethic and the worth ethic. Then it briefly reviews the evolution of the role of work in society from primitive times to the present. Next it consider the psychological functions of work and reviews some recent empirical research which supports the worth ethic concept. Finally, it discusses the future implications of the worth ethic and offers some suggestions which managers may find useful in solving their most pressing problems.