What’s going on? The world is filled with tension. People are cynical about their institutions. Our nation is engulfed in disruptive change. We cannot stand it! We trust no one, too. According to a Gallup survey (January 2010), people have a negative image of the federal government and big businesses. In fact, distrust abounds toward most organized institutions including corporations, organized labor, politic parties, and the media. Many people wonder what has happened to our country.
In 1971, Marvin Gaye released his thirteenth album What’s Going On. The album heavily captured the nation’s social consciousness such as the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement.
Gaye sings, “Father, father, everybody thinks we’re wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us
Simply because our hair is long
Oh, you know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some understanding here today
Oh….What’s going on?”
As Americans continue to fight for their jobs and their way of life, I also ask our nation, “What’s Going On?” The economic downturn continues to worsen for today’s workers. Therefore, individuals need to consider their own career strategies. Unfortunately, we are witnessing the last era of the full-time workforce. According to a USA Today analysis, part-time work is at a record high while overtime is at an all-time low. An average of just 33 hours was recorded for the average worker in May 2009; it was fewer hours than any time since the Bureau of Labor Statistics begun to track it in 1964. In fact, over 9 million people want to work full-time but can only find part-time employment.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the ranks of involuntary part-timers have increased by 4.9 million since 2008. Some managers reduce workers hours in a noble effort to avoid layoffs while other managers use it for corporate gain by reducing the number of workers with benefits. However, those economic indicators that reviewed underemployment may not have provided the whole picture. For example, underemployed workers and those individuals who have lost jobs or have given up the job search are statistics that are worth watching to determine the health of employment in the nation.
Consequently, few Americans are optimistic about their careers. With the continuing layoffs by American businesses, many employees and government officials are looking for social responsibility. Company after company has downsized its workforce as a way of continuing profits; these same companies expect the remaining employees to be productive and be happy “you’re still employed.” Some managers do not care about the personal welfare of their employees.
As more employees desire a more purposeful life, this management attitude provides a continual conflict in an organization trying to be profitable. Clearly, employees will not give 110% if they feel that management is using them. Employees will keep critical information to themselves, give management the minimum performance in order to keep their jobs, and provide no sense of loyalty to the organization that is not reciprocal. Therefore, effective leaders need to understand this uncertainty among workers and develop strategies to motivate them.
How do employees prepare themselves for a future of uncertainty in the marketplace? What can managers do to promote a high level of performance while suffering from the aftermath of massive downsizing and outsourcing?
© 2010 by Daryl D. Green