Career Management and employee commitment

The globalization of the world economy has been a boon in many ways. For products and services ranging from cars to computers to air travel, it has powered lower prices, better quality and higher productivity and living standards.

But these advances haven’t come without a price. At least in the short run, the same cost efficiencies, belt tightening, and productivity improvements that globalization produced have also triggered numerous and ongoing workforce dislocation. The desire for efficiencies drove firms to downsize, and to “do more with less”. It prompted thousands of mergers, large and small any of which as when NCNB bought Bank of America aimed specifically to eliminate redundancies, in other words for closing duplicate branches and back office operations. And with every buyout, merger and downsizing ore employees found themselves out of work. Partly as a reaching to these changes, and to the bubble economy of the late 1990s and to the recession of 2000-2003, the US economy lost over three million jobs in the early 2000s, or about 2% of the country’s job.

The New Psychological Contract:

Changes like these as mentioned earlier, understandably prompt many employees to ask why they should be loyal to their employers. They might ask why they should be loyal to the employer if they are just going to dump them in deciding to cut costs. The smart employee today thus tends to think of him or herself as a free agent to seek any other employment to prepare for the next career move to another firm and to do good job there also. Yesterday’s employee employer psychological contract may have been something like, ‘do your best and be loyal to us, and we’ll take care of your career’. Today, it is do your best for us and be loyal to us for as long as you’re here, and will provide you with the developmental opportunities you’ll need to move on and have a successful career. In such situations, employers must think through what they’re going to do to maintain employee commitment and thereby minimize voluntary departures, and maximum employee effort.

Commitment oriented Career Development efforts:

The employer’s career planning and development process can and should play a central role in this process. It is through this process that the employer supports the employee’s efforts to test and develop viable career goals and to develop the skills and experiences for accomplishing those goals required. Managed effectively, the employer’s career development process should send the signal that the employer cares about the employee’s career success and thus deserves the employee’s commitment career development programs and career oriented appraisals can facilitate this.

Career Development Programs:

Most large and many smaller employers provide career planning and development services. Consider the program at Saturn Corporation, Tennessee plant. A career workshop uses vocational guidance tools including a computerized skills assessment program ad other career gap analysis tools to help employees identify career-related skills and the development needs they possess. This workshop, according to one employee, helps you assess yourself and takes four to six hours. You use it for developing your own career potential. The career disk identifies your weaknesses and strengths: you assess yourself, and then your team assesses you. Tuition reimbursement and other development aids are also available to help employees develop the skills they need to get ahead.

Programs like these can help foster employee commitment. Here is how one Saturn employee put it:

“I’m an assembler now, and was a team leader for two-and-a-half years. My goal is to move into our people systems [HR] unit. I know things are tight now, but I know that the philosophy here is that the firm will lookout for me – they want people to be all they can be. I know here I’ll go as far as I can go; that’s one of the reasons I’m so committed to Saturn”.

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