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Do you have a lousy work ethic or is it something else?

Well-being is important. But how is well-being tied to work ethic?

As employers, we've long known that the physical health of our employees is important. That's why we protect them at work. We invest in safety equipment if the job they do is risky. We develop and train them on procedures to keep them safe. It's costly if they get hurt. Plus, an injured employee is not able to work.

Likewise, we offer benefits like health insurance to keep our employees healthy or reduce the severity of their illness. When they do get sick, the insurance gives them access to medical care to recover. Sick employees aren't able to work. Unhealthy employees aren't able to work at their best.

That sounds so crass but, really, it's in employers' best interests to pay attention to the health and well-being of their employees.

Increasingly, the mental health side of well-being is recognized as a priority. More employers are offering mental health benefits. And more employees are demanding it. Especially younger one who are well-versed in the language of therapy and mental health. They are comfortable talking about their diagnoses and treatment -- probably more so than their older colleagues.

And these younger workers are protective of their mental well-being. Unlike their older colleagues, who are inclined to suck it up, walk it off, or rub some dirt on it, younger folks are unlikely to put up with situations that make them feel exploited or stressed.

The unwillingness of younger workers to "sacrifice" their well-being puts them at odds with others who may see them as being weak or lazy. Older workers, on the other hand, talk about their "work ethic" -- coming in early, staying late, and working through vacations. What is a source of pride to them is anathema to their younger peers and colleagues.

Neither of these approaches to work is right or wrong. And they should not be viewed as a character issue. It's just having different priorities and valuing things differently.

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