Magazine article Techniques

Keeping Pace with Workplace Trends

Magazine article Techniques

Keeping Pace with Workplace Trends

Article excerpt

Trends in the changing workplace have created employment practices that have implications for career development.

Company downsizing, early retirement buyouts and the growing use of outsourcing has led some people to fear that full-time employment will not be available to them. But, new configurations of workers and alternative work arrangements do not necessarily signify lost employment opportunities.

The new "partnership" relationship between employer and employee, which is reportedly replacing the old "parent-child" relationship, emphasizes worker employability. In the "partnership" relationship, employers provide employees with opportunities for career and skill development and employees take advantage of the opportunities they are given to enhance their skills, marketability and potential for continued employment. Philosophically, this employer-employee tradeoff is equally beneficial. Employers invest time and money in their employees' growth, employees learn updated skills that are reflected in improved productivity and increased company profits, and employers realize a good return on investment. In practice, however, the cycle is not always completed.

Loyalty, which seems a natural outgrowth of the give-and-take process, may be too elusive to rely on chance. From the onset, organizations deciding to upgrade the skills and employability of their employees have been concerned that they could lose the workers they train to their competition. Too many employees are jumping ship before the costs for training them have been recouped. As a result, many organizations are now developing employment contracts that bind employees to the organization, ensuring loyalty on both sides. For workers, this practice requires new skills of contract awareness and negotiation.

Most adults are aware of the need for up-to-date occupational, academic and employability skills as well as flexibility and adaptability to changing workplace conditions. However, in today's employment scene, knowledge of contract law and strategies for contract negotiation have become essential. Initially, employment contracts were offered only to top management; today mid-level employees are being asked to sign as well.

Job security afforded through the new employment contract differs from that promised in the old contracts. In the old contracts, the employee was the beneficiary. Today employers benefit, locking in valued employees and restricting their mobility. …

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