Week 1-The contemporary workplace
Working in today’s economy
Working in today’s economy likely involves the following elements:
The ultimate foundations of an organisation’s success are its people-what they know, what they learn and
what they do with it. They carry not only just the corporate memory but the firm’s intellectual capital. In
turn, this is valuable intellectual capital is known as knowledge worker.
Intellectual capital is defined as the collective brain power or shared knowledge of a workforce
that can be used to create value.
Knowledge worker is defined as someone whose mind is an important asset to employers and
who adds the intellectual capital of the organisation.
In a globalised world, countries and people are increasingly interconnected through the news, travel,
lifestyles, in labour markets, employment patterns and business dealings.
Globalisation is the worldwide interdependence of resource flows, product markets and business
In today’s society, we are now technology driven and are dominated by interactive technologies offer the
user conveniences. Technology is now a mandatory requirement in the contemporary workplace.
It allows organisations to do the following:
Improve decision making
Making sales tractions
Analysing customer preferences
Workplace diversity describes differences among workers in gender, race, age, ethnic, culture, able-
bodiedness, religious, affiliation and sexual orientation.
The importance of diversity:
can tap a rich talent pool and help people work to their full potential. ‘consciously creating an environment where everyone has an equal shot at contributing,
participating, and most of all advancing
However there are problems in diversity as meeting social responsibilities to truly value diversity is hard
to always accomplish
The nature of relationships people have with organisations will continue to change
Flexible employment to increase, but differences in approaches to pay, conditions of employment
and opportunities for development are ready examples of the inequality this can involve
Diversity bias can occur
Furthermore three important issues that arise in diversity in workplaces:
Prejudice is the holding of negative, irrational opinions and attitudes regarding members of
Discrimination occurs when someone is denied a job or a job assignment for reasons not job –
relevant. It actively disadvantages people by treating them unfairly and denying them the full
benefits of organisational membership.
Discrimination can take form into something called glass ceiling effect.
Glass ceiling effect is the existence of an invisible barrier or ‘ceiling’ that prevents
women and minority groups from rising above a certain level of organisational
Ethics is a moral principle that governs person’s or group behaviour
The importance of ethics
Equal employment opportunity Involves all aspects of organisations, the
Equity of compensation and benefits behaviour of their members and their
Participation and employee involvement impact on society
plays the role of keeping customers
Privacy and due process
Job security sustainable development and protection of
Occupational health and safety the natural environment
Freedom from sexual harassment protection of consumers through product
safety and fair practices
protection of human rights in all aspects of
society, including employment
The career implications of the new employment patterns characteristic of this dynamic environment are
extremely significant There are shamrock three leaves which discuss a different career implication:
core workers – these fulltime employees pursue traditional career paths. These employees hold
critical skills which can advance within the organisation and remain employed for a long time
contract workers- sell skill or service to employers. Thus, perform specific tasks as needed by
the organisation and are compensated on a contract or fee-for services basis rather than a
continuing wage or salary.
Casual and part time workers- who are hired only as needed and only for a set number of hours.
Important notes of prospering shamrock three leaves:
The typical career is not uniformly full time and limited to a single large employer
A career is likely to unfold opportunistically and involve several employment options over time.
Thus, you must be prepared to change jobs and employers over time. However, still have skills
that are portable and of current value in the employment markets. Skills are not gained once and
then forgotten- they must be carefully maintained and upgraded all the time. Organisations
An organisation is a collection of people working together with a division of labour to achieve a
common purpose. Thus, people meet to work together for agreed purposes. It is a social phenomenon that
enables its members to perform tasks far beyond the reach of individual accomplishment.
Purpose: providing useful goods and services
Purpose that is tied to ‘quality of products’ and ‘customer satisfaction’ is increasingly viewed
as a source or organisational strength and performance advantage
Belief is a strong and organisational purpose is one of the reasons given by employees for
remaining very loyal to their employers
Furthermore organisations can be seen as systems with subsystems, composed of interrelated parts that
function together to achieve a common purpose. In essence are viewed as open systems.
Open systems that interact with their environments in the continual process of transforming resource
inputs into product outputs in the form of finished goods and/or services
The external environment is important- as supplier of resources and source of customers has its
significant impact on operations and outcomes.
Feedback from the environment tells an organisation how well it’s doing
The ultimate test for any organisation rests with the market-place- once people use a product, the
question becomes will they do so again and will they recommend that others do the same?
A system contains the following:
Input (raw, materials, effort ideas and so on)
Product outputs finished products and services which operate its own internal environment of
culture and history
What makes an organisation successful and performing at its best? The notion of value creation is very important in this context. If operations add value to the original cost
of resource inputs, then a business organisation can earn a profit-that is, sell a product for more than the
cost of making it. Value is only created when an organisation’s resources are used in the right way at the
right time and at minimum cost to create high-quality goods and services.
There are two critical elements in open-systems view of organisations:
Resources- must be good to use
Customers- be able to serve customers well and ensure they are satisfied
What indicators are used to measure organisational performance?
There are three types of indicators:
Productivity- is the quantity and quality of work performance with resource use considered.
Example: measure individual and group level quality performance
Performance effectiveness- is the output measure of task or goal accomplishment
Example: meeting a daily production target in terms of quantity and quality of making
Performance efficiency- is a measure of resource cost associated with goal and accomplishment.
Note that the most efficient organisation, is one that uses minimum cost in materials and labour.
Example: Cost of labour, equipment use, facilities maintenance and returns on capital
investment. The changing nature of organisations.
As organisations are undergoing dramatic changes today, the important organisational transitions to be
aware of include:
pre-eminence of technology,
demise of command and control,
focus on speed,
belief in empowerment,
emphasis on teamwork,
new workforce expectations and
concern for work-life balance.
Total quality management (TQM) – managing with commitment to continuous improvement, product
quality and customer satisfaction. Managers
Managers are people in organisations who are responsible and directly support and help activate the
work efforts and performance accomplishments of others.
The manager determines whether our social institutions serve us well or whether they squander
our talents and resources.
Responsible not just for his or her own work, but for the overall performance accomplishments of
a team, work group, department, or even the organisation as a whole
People apart of an organisation represent the real work of the organisation
Those people working with and reporting to managers are, in short, the critical human capital
upon whose intellects and efforts the performance of any organisation is ultimately built.
How well the manager performs in supporting them makes a critical difference in their
performance and that of organisation
Every manager has a key responsibility to help other people achieve high performance
What are they key managerial performance elements?
Accountability- is the requirement of one person to answer to a higher authority for performance
results achieved in his or her area of work responsibility. These results are typically measured in
terms of team work unit productivity, including the accomplishment of both performance
effectiveness and performance efficiency
Quality of work life (QWL)-issues as an indicator of the overall quality of human experiences in
the workplace. A high QWL represents a true respect for people at work by offering such things as
fair pay, safe working conditions, opportunities to learn and