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Lead Your Team Personal Growth

Many Recent Graduates Earn Failing Grades in Professionalism

If bosses could give dunce hats to misbehaving employees, they likely would plop several of the pointy caps on the heads of new graduates, many of whom earned failing grades in professionalism in 2010.

Fresh-faced employees are not exhibiting traits deemed important in the workplace, reveals a new national survey that asked nearly 900 business leaders, human-resource employees, recent graduates and current students about the state of professionalism among young workers.

More than 38 percent of these new graduates lack technology etiquette and the ability to accept personal responsibility and constructive criticism, according to the findings from the Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania.

Researchers find inappropriate technology use in the workplace appears to mirror problems seen in the classroom.

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“Students and employees alike are text messaging, surfing the Internet and responding to cell phone calls at inappropriate times,” said David Polk, president of the Polk-Lepson Research Group, whose firm completed the study.

“It appears that for many the need to be in constant contact with friends and family has become an addiction. The addicted no longer see it as rude to be obsessively responding to calls or text messages.”

Recent graduates’ “sense of entitlement” may be the culprit of why some of them are described as workers without professionalism. More than half of all respondents said young workers feel more entitled than their peers five years ago.

The top reasons employers gave for increases in “sense of entitlement” were the need for instant gratification (19 percent); having been coddled (11 percent); a general feeling (11 percent); new employees expecting mid-career treatment (11 percent) and a lack of work ethic (8 percent).

Has professionalism decreased?

Nearly one-fourth of respondents report professionalism in young workers had decreased compared with behaviors and attitudes in 2009, while more than 15 percent say it had increased.

In 2009 when researchers only polled business leaders and human-resource departments, 37.3 percent of survey-takers felt less than half of all new graduates acted professionally in the workplace. This year, researchers also surveyed recent graduates or current students, and the number remains virtually unchanged at 38.2 percent.

“If there is good news from this survey it is that things are not getting worse,” Polk said.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer Brian Anthony Hernandez at Bhernandez@TechMediaNetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter (@BAHjournalist) and become his friend on Facebook (BAH Journalist) to interact or stay updated on news about small businesses.