Question: Today’s work world is different than the one I started in. Competition is fierce and the old message we gave to employees in which we promised job security and asked for their loyalty in return is dead. Today, we ask our employees for total dedication to our customers. We also ask them to be innovative, fast, and committed to company goals. We tell them we value their ideas, and encourage them to get involved in decision-making. We also remind them that they are expendable and can be fired or laid off at any moment. I don’t like this duplicity. We are talking out of both sides of our mouths, and I wonder how it will affect our company over time.
Answer: If there is one issue that I see our clients struggling with these days, it is this one. As our economy has slowed down, we are seeing increasing numbers of employees laid off, downsized, rightsized, or whatever you want to call it when employees are separated from their employers. As you allude to in your question, the employees left behind are being asked to make stronger commitments to customer service while assuming more responsibility. Yet, at the same time, organizations are offering jobs, not careers. In response, individuals are offering skill sets on short-term loan, not a decades-long commitment. This seems to be in keeping with our consumer society - buy it, use it, discard it, get another one, and repeat the process.
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