Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Incentives to Encourage Worker-Friendly Organizations

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Incentives to Encourage Worker-Friendly Organizations

Article excerpt

As the nation progresses into the 21st century, there is a need to move away from short-term strategies for economic growth. Instead, economic policies must focus on long-term strategies for addressing productivity growth. To maintain competitiveness, private and public sector labor policies must produce sustained economic growth and share that growth with working families. Such growth will ensure secure pension plans, good pay, access to health care, and employee training opportunities. Our project identifies, describes, and analyzes important determinants for securing sustained and shared economic growth through enhanced productivity of human resources. These essential determinants are organizational policies promoting increased worker satisfaction, retention, and performance. By performing a research and practice synthesis, we engage in a systematic compilation, comparison, and assessment of past and present efforts by employers in private and public organizations experimenting with progressive policies for enhancing the quality of life in the work place (1). Based on this collection of policy relevant information, we identify the circumstances and conditions under which public and private programs are most successful in achieving this quality of life for working families. We examine first, the employment context for working families. Next, we examine government responses to working families' problems. Third, we examine government and private sector collaborative responses to those problems. Finally, we examine organizational solutions found in public and private employment.

Quality of Life Issues for Working Families

Families are finding it increasingly difficult to meet the challenges of the contemporary market place. Beyond the increasing complexity and skill requirements of the employment market itself, working families also must address competing demands on their time and incomes. As the cost of maintaining families creates pressures on incomes two-paycheck families have become the norm at younger and younger ages.

Changing Family Compositions. The composition of the average working family in America has changed significantly over the past 30 years. For example, since 1963, the percentage of women in America's workforce has shifted from 34 percent to 45 percent. By the year 2005, 57 percent of all new entrants into the workforce and almost 50 percent of that workforce will be women. From 1969 to 1996, married couple's households with children and full-time working mothers increased from 17 percent to 39 percent (2). In addition, the average age of the partners in marriages in the labor force is 46.4, while the average age is 38.7 for male workers supporting a family by themselves.

For black and Hispanic families, the labor force averages are even younger. For black families, the average age of workers is 44.3 for dual income families and 37.2 for families where the husband is the sole supporter; for Hispanic families, it is 40.2 for dual income families and 37.0 for families where the husband is the sole supporter. Average family size for each group ranges from 3 to 4.5 persons. Clearly, these figures show that working families are comprised of workers with more than 20 to 30 years of productive earning years, and those families are supporting numerous people (3).

Hours and Income. Although dual paycheck families have been on the rise, working family income has never really recovered from recessionary problems of the 1980s and 1990s. California, with incomes of working families at lower levels than they were in 1989, has had more problems recovering than most other states. More generally, throughout the United States, hourly wage earners have suffered a decline in wages, slower compensation growth, shrinking health benefits, and a rise in job insecurity. Increasingly, fewer and fewer workers have held their positions for over ten years while almost thirty percent of all workers are not in regular full-time jobs (4). …

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