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 dislocations. The desire for efficiencies drove firms to downsize, and to do more with less. It prompted thousands of mergers large an small many of which as and when NCNB bought Bank America aimed specifically to eliminate redundancies in other words to close duplicate branches and back office operations . And with every buyout, merger and downsizing more employees found themselves out of work.
The New Psychological Contract:
Changes like these understandably prompt many employees to ask why they should be loyal to their employers. Why they might ask should I be loyal to you if you’re just going to dump me when you decide to cut costs again? To paraphrase the author of the book Pack Your Own Parachute the smart employee today thus tends to think of him or herself as a free agent, there to do a good job but also to prepare for the next career move, to another firm. As we noted earlier yesterday’s employee–employer psychological contract may have been something like do your best and be loyal to us, and we’ll tale acre of your career. Today, it is do your best for us and be loyal to us we will give you a fast track career along with a high social status and living standards. In such situations employers must think about what are going to do to retain employees to minimize departures and maximize employee effort.
Commitment oriented career development efforts:
The employer’s career planning and development activities can and should pay a central role here. Managed effectively the employer’s career development process should send the signal that the employee 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:
For example, we’ve seen that most large (and many smaller) employers provide career planning and development services. Consider the program at Saturn Corporation’s Spring Hill, Tennessee plant. A career workshop uses vocational guidance tools (including a computerized assessment program and other career gap analysis tools) to help employees identify career related skills and the development needs they possess. This workshop helps employees to assess themselves and to identify their weaknesses and strengths. 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 firm will look out 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 reason I’m so committed to Saturn.
Career Oriented appraisals
Similarly the annual or semi-annual appraisal provides an excellent opportunity to review career related issue. Performance appraisals should not only be about telling someone how he or she has done. They also provide the ideal occasion to link the employee’s performance, career interests and developmental needs into a coherent career plan. A form like the one in Figure can facilitate this process, by helping the manager and employee to translate the latter’s performance based experiences for the year into tangible development plans and goals.