2013 Professionalism Study

Professionalism Still a Problem in Workplace

There are glimmers of hope that professionalism among entry-level employees is making short-term gains, but, in the long-term, a sizeable percentage of respondents believe that professionalism has decreased over the past five years. That’s according to the 2013 Professionalism In The Workplace Study, annual nationwide survey on the state of professionalism, an annual nationwide survey from the Center for Professional Excellence (CPE) at York College. 

As in the past three years, researchers asked HR professionals to comment on the state of professionalism. This year, researchers also reached out to a nationwide sample of managers and supervisors. 

“HR professionals are more likely to report problems of professionalism in the workplace than are managers,” said Matthew Randall, executive director of the CPE. “However, when managers specified the employee segments that most lack professionalism, they point toward younger employees.”

Researchers compared data from the past four years and found an apparent generation gap between hiring managers and HR professionals and younger, entry-level employees.

“Much of the generation gap revolves around professionalism standards,” said David Polk, PhD, whose firm, the Polk-Lepson Research Group, was commissioned to conduct the survey. “Current business leaders and HR professionals do not believe that the definition of professionalism should change over time. Business and HR professionals say young employees need to learn to conform to ‘current standards’ of professionalism rather than the standards be modified in response to larger society changes.” 

Entitlement Among New Employees

Every year this survey has asked HR respondents if younger employees feel a sense of entitlement. The good news, from the company perspective, is that over the past four surveys, the sense of entitlement has slowly decreased, according to HR professionals. In 2009, 60% of respondents said that entitlement among younger employees had increased.  In 2010, that number fell to 55%.  In 2011, that number fell to 50%. The bad news, however, is that it is still a problem. Half of the HR respondents and 33% managers report that a sense of entitlement has increased over the past five years. 

About the Study

A nationwide random sample of 401 human resource professionals was surveyed. Data was collected by using online surveys. The maximum margin of error associated with the samples is 4.9% at the 95% confidence level.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the Center for Professional Excellence at York College has conducted a survey on the state of professionalism. The Center plans to capitalize on the research by using the results to guide campus seminars, classroom experiences and student workshops.