There has been a great challenge faced by business organization today: a shift in employment relationship. Today employees are savvy, confident, upbeat, open minded, creative and independent and therefore tend to be more challenging to manage. There is a demand for greater work/life balance, workforce flexibility and good management of workforce diversity.
‘Globalisation and the changing workforce have produced two contrasting changes in relationships between employers and employees: Aligning the workplace with emerging workforce expectations, and increasing workforce flexibility to increase organisational competitiveness’ (Mcshane & Travaglione, 2007, pg 10). Mullins (2005) also agrees that there is a need for greater flexibility in the structure of work organisation and pattern of management; and the changing nature and composition of the work force.
Achieving a good balance between work and family commitments is a growing concern for contemporary employees and organizations which results in them looking for workplaces that provide for time exchange that make maximum use of their work-life hours (Anilkumar & Sandeep, 2005).
Robbins (2003) states that employees are increasingly complaining that the line between work and non work time has become blurred, creating personal conflict and stress. There are few major factors that are contributing to this blurring of line, firstly are with the creation of global organizations, which means the world never sleeps. Secondly is communication technology that allows employees to work literally anywhere they are. This lets many people in technical and professional job do their work any time and from any place, in other words employees are putting in more hours despite not being physically in the office (Robbins, 2003).
Gen-X/Gen-Y expectation has made work-life balance a ‘must-have’ condition in today’s employment relationship and in order for companies not to risk losing the war for talent; they will have to pay close attention to it (Robbins, 2003).
Over the past decade, increased attention has been focused on workplace flexibility, in part because employers are beginning to frame workplace flexibility as a potential benefit for the organization and employees, rather than an accommodation to employees (Mercie & Christina, 2008).
Today, organizations, managers and employees must continually adapt to rapid change to survive and prosper (Stone, 2005, pg58). Organizations are now flatter, less hierarchical. There is great emphasis on individual skills, which leads to the concept of life time employability rather than lifetime employment. Employees are expected to take personal responsibility in their own employability. There are also new job descriptions, job classifications, pay rates and reporting relationships (Stone, 2005).
Companies seeking a high level of commitment from their workforce are able to do so only when they genuinely value their contribution, eliminate barriers of hierarchy and rank, develop an atmosphere of trust, invest heavily in training and empower their employees to improve and control their own work.
One of the most important and broad-based challenges currently faced by organizations is adapting to people who are different (Robbins, YR, pg 17). The term used to describe this is ‘Workforce Diversity’. In short, workforce diversity means that organizations are becoming a more heterogeneous mix of people in terms of gender, age, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation (Robbins, YR). The two major challenges are namely cultural differences and gender.
Cultural differences are attributable to the fact that others have tendency to act or behave differently towards people with cultural origin that is different from their own. This behavior stems from various factors,...