Recent Trends in Human Resource Management

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Networked Organizations

Computerization, the Internet, and the ability to link computers with organizations and between organizations have created a different workplace for many employees – a networked organization. It allows people to communicate and work together even though they may be thousands of miles apart. It also allows people to become independent contractors, who can telecommute via computer to workplaces around the globe and change employers as the demand for their services changes. Software programmers, graphic designers, systems analysts, technical writers, photo researchers, book editors, and medical transcribers are just a few examples of jobs that people can now perform from home or other non-office locations.

The manager’s job is different in a networked organization, especially when it comes to managing people. For instance, motivating and leading people and making collaborative decisions “online” requires different techniques than those needed in dealing with individuals are physically present in a single location.

As more and more employees do their jobs linked to others trough networks, managers need to develop new skills. OB can provide valuable insights to help with honing those skills.

The typical employee in the 1960s or 1970s showed up at the workplace Monday through Friday and did his or her job in eight or nine hours of time. The workplace and hours were clearly specified. That’s longer true for a large segment of today’s workforce. Employers are increasingly complaining that the line between work and non-work time has become blurred, creating personal conflicts and stress. At the same time, however, today’s workplace presents opportunities for workers to create and structure their work roles.

A number of forces have contributed to blurring the lines between employees’ work life and personal life. First, the creation of global organizations means their world never sleeps. At any time and on any day, for instance thousands of General Electric employees are working somewhere. The need to consult with colleagues or customers eight or ten time zones away mean that many employees of global firms are “on call” 24 hours a day. Second, communication technology allows employees to do their homework, in their cars, or on the beach in Tahiti. This lets many people in technical and professional jobs do their work any time and from any place. Third, organizations are asking employees to put in longer hours. For instance, over a recent 10-years period, the average American work week increased from 43 to 47 hours; and the number of people working 50 or more hours a week jumped from 24 percent to 37 percent. Finally, fewer families have only a single breadwinner. Today’s married employee is typically part of a dual career couple. This makes it increasingly difficult for married employees to find the time to fulfill commitments to home, spouse, children parents, and friends.

Employees are increasingly recognizing that work is infringing on their personal lives, and they’re not happy about it. For example, recent studies suggest that employees want jobs that give them flexibility in their work schedules so they can better manage work-life conflicts. In fact, evidence indicates that balancing work and life demands now surpasses job security as an employee priority. In addition, the next generation of employees is likely to show similar concern. A majority of college and university students say that attaining a balance between personal life and work is a primary career goal. They want “a life” as well as a job. Organizations that don’t help their people achieve work-life balance will find it increasingly difficult to attract and retain the most capable and motivated employees.
Ref: CiteHR

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