Have we reached a tipping point in American employment?

I started writing about the insanities of 21st century employment a few years ago and at first I felt like a lone and perhaps cranky voice in the wilderness. I tried to keep my observations as objective as possible, because I realized that there was a continuing mis-application of business principles in an effort to make various companies more profitable. These companies were minimizing the value of personal judgment in an effort to create a perfect industrial machine.

Management’s attitude reminded me of old movie dialog: "There’s nothing personal in this. It’s strictly business."

From my viewpoint, that is absolutely the wrong approach because effective businesses are actually a carefully coordinated orchestration of personal communications. When you take the personal touch out of business, you get the same effect as the "phone tree from Hell." Every question gets a rote response and if that doesn’t help, too bad. You need to see somebody else, who will give you the same canned response.

You see this in organizations where managers say, "I know you did an exceptional job, but I am allotted only one exceptional review, two superior reviews and the rest must be limited to satisfactory. I have three valuable senior employees, so you get  a satisfactory review."

You also see this in organizations where customer service people give you unsympathetic and unhelpful service because they are punished for using their judgment to solve customer problems.

I think that’s an incredibly short-sighted viewpoint and it is beginning to have some serious implications for American businesses.

According to results of a representative, nationwide survey of 7,718 American workers aged 18 and over, more than half of American workers question the basic morality of their organizations’ top leaders and say that their managers do not treat them fairly.

Multi-generational workforce issues would seem to be coming to a head. Reacting to ongoing corporate scandals, accelerating outsourcing and continued downsizing, only 36 percent of workers said they believed top managers acted with honesty and integrity. Even fewer (29 percent) believe management cares about advancing employee skills, while one-third of all workers feel they have reached a dead end at their jobs.

The “New Employer/Employee Equation Survey” was conducted by Harris Interactive, Inc. for Age Wave, an independent think tank that counsels business and government on issues impacting an aging society, and The Concours Group, a global consultancy advising senior executives.

Read more about this survey here, and here.

It seems that this is a worthwhile topic to explore through blogging, and I am discovering other bloggers who write exclusively about this area.  There is enough to cover that I will continue this in a future post.


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