Cristy Leon-Rivero, vice president of marketing and human resources at Navarro Discount Pharmacy, says that homework teaches responsibility, work ethic and time management — critical skills for workplace success. Today, with laptops and smartphones, few of us truly leave work behind when we exit the office. “I think it boils down to one word — discipline,” says Leon-Rivero, a mother of three. “We’re teaching our children from a young age that they have responsibilities and that their actions carry consequences and hard work will lead to results.”
Josh Merkin, a Miami public relations professional, offers a different prospective: “Generations coming up don’t want to work as hard but they will have to work even harder. If they are better prepared, it’s not because of homework.” In fact, Merkin, father of five kids ranging from 13 to 3, asserts that homework, originally intended to reinforce learning, often gets assigned on concepts students aren’t being taught and are expected to learn on their own. He believes the unnecessary volume often forces kids to give up sports or other extracurricular activities that teach teamwork and other workplace critical skills.
The new generation of worker provides some perspective. Lindsay Parkinson, 22 and on the job as a nurse since July, says she sees value in having slogged through homework assignments. “I learned early on what happens if you procrastinate.” Parkinson says she and many of her friends are entering workplaces that are short-staffed. “There’s a lot expected of us and we know how to prioritize. We’re prepared for that.” Still, Parkinson says she’s not an advocate of volumes of homework, agreeing with Merkin that it needs to be given in moderation.
Meanwhile, countless reports reveal the 20-somethings entering the workplace today put a higher value than other generations on work-life balance. It makes me wonder, is this pushback? Are the next generation of workers burned out from years of homework insanity and college pressure by the time they land a job?
Alyssa Alonso, a 24-year-old Bay Harbor Islands police dispatcher, says she and most of her friends will admit, even if they love their jobs, “life outside of work is way more important.” Many have entered professions where they’re expected to respond to email or client calls at all hours and take home paperwork. “We have the work ethic and we’re prepared to handle it,” she said, “but we want to avoid it as much as possible.”
Workplace columnist Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal, a national provider of news and advice on how to balance work and life. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit worklifebalancingact.com.