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Emerging Trends in Work Culture
Human Resources » Case Studies

Chrm Message From: benjamin Total Posts: 27 Join Date: 13/01/2007
Rank: Executive Post Date: 27/03/2007 14:19:15 Points: 135 Location: United States

Work culture may be defined as the rules / regulations, policies / practices, traditions / rituals and values / beliefs of the organisation. These dimensions of work culture are both physical and visible and some are implicit or implied norms.

Open office layouts:
We notice an increasing number of organisations who are doing away with the cabin culture. Open office layout ensures greater transparency of operations and facilitates easier communication among various people in the same location. This promotes a feeling of oneness and eliminates physical barriers. There are only a few cubicles which serve as conferences venues with lesser disturbances, else; no cabins.

Fostering teams:
Today, organisations have begun to lay greater emphasis on teamwork; you need to be effective in groups besides being efficient individually. This fosters a "we" spirit and can often contribute to synergy which in turn can make the organisation more productive. As Sir Henry Ford once said "None of us is as good as all of us"

Focus on customer satisfaction:
Cliches like "The customer pays your salary" are well accepted by most employees of the organistion. But unfortunately they find application only with respect to the external customer who buys your goods / services. Today, organisations have widened the scope of the word customer to also include the internal customers viz. the employees. Service organisations is being practised by all departments. Factors like response time, quality of service provided, attitude to help and such are also assessed by the employees with respect to user departments.

Greater emphasis on talent retention:
Companies have now started to develop psychological contracts / relations with their employees. "Service Bonds" are being gradually replaced by systems like "stock options". This conveys the all important message of companies building up a permanent relationship with their employees. With this in mind companies are developing the vision / mission statements which indicates clearly the plans for the future. Company products are given to employees at greater discounts, kith and kin of employees are provided employment, scholarship given to their children, all in a bid to build up a lasting relationship and ensure that every employee feels proud to be part of the organisation.

Equitable treatment of employees:
In the Indian context, the good old adage was "All employees are equal but some are more equal than the others". This meant that executives and senior managers were entitled to better facilities at the work place such as plush canteens, comfortable luxury transport to and from work, pot tea and coffee, a peon at their disposal and such. With the increasing advent of open office systems, we notice that many organisations are heading for common canteens, pool cars and such. Further, with increased automation, executives are encouraged to have their own personal computers. Further we have tea-coffee vending machines with executives helping themselves to it as and when they need, self-operated photo coping machines. Thus, the hierarchial formal relationships at work are giving way for more informal and self-department ways of getting things done.

Concept of learning organisation:
Training programmes are being viewed more seriously by organisations. Initially a training programme was perceived as a holiday period, break from routine work and a means to keep people occupied during preventive maintenance periods on the shop floor.

Further training efforts of most organisations have been focused at the lower level of employees of the organisation. An encouraging trend today is that organisations are now emphasizing upon training of employees at all levels. Training and development activities are aimed at increasing "Learning" experiences for employees such that it helps in both employee and organisation development. Some companies have introduced a statutory quanta of training programmes to be attended per executive per year. It is also an encouraging trend that organisations are trying to develop inhouse faculty who could conduct training programmes for other employees. This attempt , besides helping to reduce cost, would also make it more effective since internal faculty would be more aware of technical and functional aspects of their own organisation's functioning.

Flexitime work systems:
As against the conventional system where workers had to punch time cards on entry an during exit and staff / executives signed the muster, we have some other systems in the operation. Some companies have electronic attendance systems where all employees irrespective of their position in hierarchy clock-in and clock-out. Further in some organisations, flexi time of a normal working day of 8 hours is practiced; 4 hours constitute the core time when everyone is around; the remaining four hours could be determined by the employee as per his convenience.

An employee who clocks-in at 8.00 a.m. leaves at 4.00 p.m. and an employee who clocks-in at 12.00 p.m. and clocks-out at 8.00 p.m. There is flexibility yet a basic common time exists. This is really very useful because employee inconveniences such as travel time, peak traffic hours, household work and such can also be managed to an extent. In some computer companies, executives and system analysts are provided terminals at home which are connected to lan/ethernet such that the employee could even work from home and clock-in the stipulated hours of work on his terminal. This trend would usher in a pragmatic mode of work where the actual contribution at work would be seen as more important and relevant than the number of hours spent at work place.

Performance evaluation has always been perceived as a fault finding exercise. Hence, employees look at it with a very negative outlook and find it a very uncomfortable ritual done year after year. An emerging welcome trend is that the organisations are now looking afresh at performance appraisal. The focus now is on performance review with a developmental focus. It is being viewed as a tool for analysing strengths and weaknesses of employees and further link it up to professions and growth in the organisation. Organistions are identifying training needs based on performance review and training is being viewed more seriously. Thus an element of objectivity has been introduced into the system of performance appraisals.

Advent of computers as a way of life:
Another noticeable change at the work place is that most organisations have increased their efforts at automation. The PC-culture is pervading in organisations, small and big. Initially computers were used only for purposes of accounting and report generation but today computers have become a way of life. Many executives have computers on their desk and use it for their daily work, report generation, accessing information and analysing data. We also notice that the conventional telephone exchange systems, cyclostyling machines, telex machines and such, are being replaced by electronic telephone exchange, photocopying machines, fax machine, tea / coffee vending machines, paper shredders and so on. Many organisations are also moving towards paperless office by using E-mail, Local Area Networks on the computer, and such high technology driven modes of communication between departments, units and locations.

Increased quality awareness and focus:
The greatest advantage Indian organisations have derived out of increased competitiveness and Global markets is the total commitment in quality. Today the slogan is that quality has become a way of life and not an exception. Many organisations are even extending the quality concept to the quality of work life for its employees. This includes quality of services like canteen, transport, comfortable facilities at work, good quality of stationery and so on. It is interesting to note that many organisations have adopted TQM as a tool to become more competitive. Many companies are also focusing on improving the after sales service provided by them to various customers. Thus the emphasis is shifting towards quality assurance in every aspect of organisational life.

To conclude, we notice that many organisations are introducing changes in the work culture such that openness, teamwork and employee development and so on. Thus "productivity through people" is the watchword organisations are following. Greater emphasis is being laid on developing work systems and practices that make work enjoyable and stimulating than restrictive and inhibiting i.e. a fun place that people love to go to and contribute willingly towards the organisation's success and excellence.

What's your say on this viewpoint ??

Chrm Message From: craig Total Posts: 37 Join Date: 13/01/2007  
Rank: Executive Post Date: 27/03/2007 14:20:43 Points: 185 Location: United States

Organisations needs to be flexible and evolving to keep up with the market. Employers have realised that it is the people friendly practises that increases the morale of the person rather than the monetary benefits.Flexibility in work place is the answer to many of the problems and with the advancement of IT , connectivity not any issue any more technology has removed the barriers of space & time.

Work places follow a more open culture and allow flexi timing, flexi place, shift swapping and On call arrangements. All of these defenitly provide a better work-life balance.


Chrm Message From: craig Total Posts: 37 Join Date: 13/01/2007  
Rank: Executive Post Date: 27/03/2007 14:24:34 Points: 185 Location: United States

Hello Colleagues,

Some interesting data done by a survey conducted by Chennai based Strategic HR consulting company Totus :

The seven macro-trends thrown up by the study are a "reflection of what will be," says Mr Ganesh Chella, CEO, Totus Consulting. Some of these trends - the increasing work-life imbalance for instance - are already evident, but others are not so visible, he adds. Employee rights, for instance, are a great source of concern, he says. The issue here is not just who will take care of employee rights in the future, but also what the consequences of not taking care of employee rights are, he explains. "Will this neglect result in white collar activism?" he asks.

Similarly, career longevity is likely to emerge as a major source of concern for those over 45. But the people who cope with this anxiety will be those who embark on a second or even third career in their middle years, he says. Thus, retirement in the traditional sense will soon disappear making it necessary for society to have appropriate coping mechanisms, he points out. The study also found that women would continue to be under pressure, trying to balance their own needs and expectations with those of society. Women themselves will, however, be responsible for finding solutions to these problems with options such as `free-agency' flourishing because of this, the study adds. The growth in concepts such as `temping' and `free-agency' will also be driven by the increasing work-life imbalance, explains Mr Chella. With organisations increasingly being driven only by performance, a `no-frills' employee value proposition will emerge, the study states. Most businesses will not invest in developing talent and will instead look at `buying' it. In many cases, organisations will increasingly turn to intermediaries such as professional employer organisations, Mr Chella says.

These intermediaries will gain in influence, he adds. The HR function too will be influenced by the persistent focus on the bottomline and on ensuring performance, he says. Traditional HR skills such as managing `employee relations' will no longer be a part of the HR vocabulary. Similarly, the study found that education would increasingly become a prerogative of the private sector, with porous boundaries between industry and education. As part of this process, many young people will join the workforce after completing high school (10+2) and will work for a while before returning to college for a graduate degree.


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