Australia, like many other advanced industrialised countries, is experiencing significant changes in traditional attitudes towards the value and meaning of work, relationships between employers and employees and the ever increasing efforts of unions to ensure their members are protected.
The increasing demands paced on employers today in light of so much increased international competition and the lowering of protective import barriers has caught a lot of CEO’s unaware. I really don’t know why, because we could see this materialising for the start of Australia’s first productivity commission.
Tariff barriers have been decreasing for years now which put the total industrial system under increasing pressures to satisfy a variety of demands outside of the marketplace. Demands from employees, employers, shareholders, governments, statutory authorities and even the general public.
The Australian taxation system has also weighed in to weigh our abilities to compete even more difficult. The red tape placed on industry for compliance standards is adding substantial costs to business which flows to product competitiveness.
I believe that people are now weighing these costs against the benefits of industrialisation by examining the quality of work life. Are the levels and fairness of pay adequate to survive and what will increased wage demands do to any competitive product and/or process?
We must always ask ourselves, does our weekly income meet the socially determined standards of survival? Does the pay received for specified work bear an appropriate relationship to the pay received for other alternative work?
People in Australia are now generally working longer hours and through necessity seek increased opportunities to compensate for life style choices.
With the advent of numerous technological advances, the meaning of work has dramatically changed. Many jobs have become de-skilled and highly controlled. I believe the opportunities for workers to use and develop their skills have declined and the challenge of work has diminished.
I firmly believe that HR managers, along with CEO’s and operational management need to reinvent their approach and reinvest in work skill development with meaning.
Our industry today overlooks the older and experienced mentor types who could and would add substantial value to any business. But this will take a drastic change of mentality by the younger academic people charged with employment responsibilities.
Opportunities for up-skilling must be made available to all employees at all levels. Opportunities to advance their careers. To give them a purpose for the future. To give them an opportunity just like the academic.
Finally, we should strive to provide employment and income security associated with their work that can be guaranteed as much as possible.