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Trends and Changes
Challenges and Opportunities

There are many trends within the workplace and around the globe that have and will continue to affect the workplace and your career. We are sure you have noticed many of these trends simply by reading newspaper headlines.
Ethical ChallengesOpportunities
Business ethics refers to applying ethical principles to situations that arise at work. It feels like it’s been one ethical scandal after the other.

Enron Corp., AIG, Tyco International, WorldCom, and Halliburton Energy Services have all been examples of what can be described in terms ranging from poor judgment to outright illegal behavior.

The immediate response by the government has been the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which went into effect in 2002.

The opportunity for organizations to be at the forefront of ethical thinking and actions is wide open.

OB research finds that the most important determinant of whether a company acts ethically is not necessarily related to the policies and rules regarding ethical conduct but instead whether it has a culture of consistently ethical behavior and if leaders are committed to this ethical behavior.

Lack of Employee Engagement
Studies suggest that fostering engagement, a concept related to passion, in employees has a significant impact on the corporate bottom line.

Gallup, for instance, has been at the forefront of measuring the impact of what is called employee engagement. Employee engagement is a concept that is generally viewed as managing discretionary effort, that is, when employees have choices, they will act in a way that furthers their organization’s interests.

An engaged employee is a person who is fully involved in and enthusiastic about their work. Employee engagement

Note
Engaged employees are those who are performing at the top of their abilities and happy about it. According to statistics that Gallup has drawn from 300,000 companies in its database, 75%–80% of employees are either “disengaged” or “actively disengaged.”Gallup Press. (2006, October 12). Gallup study: Engaged employees inspire company innovation. Gallup Management Journal. Retrieved October 29, 2008, from http://gmj.gallup.com/content/24880/Gallup-Study-Engaged- Employees-Inspire-Company. aspx.

Fully Engaged
Consider Gallup’s estimation of the impact of 100% of an organization’s employees were fully engaged:
Customers would be 70% more loyal.
Turnover would drop by 70%.
Profits would jump by 40%.
Job satisfaction studies in the United States routinely show job satisfaction ratings of 50%–60%.
What did the researchers find?
Only 20% feel very passionate about their jobs.
Less than 15% agree that they feel strongly energized by their work.
Only 31% (strongly or moderately) believe that their employer inspires the best in them.

Technology
Technology has transformed the way work gets done and has created many great opportunities. The nexus of increasing personal computing power, the Internet, as well as nanotechnology is allowing things to be created that weren’t even imaginable 50 years ago.

And the rate of technological change is not expected to slow down anytime soon. Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel Corp., shocked the world in 1975 with what is now termed Moore’s Law, which states that computing power doubles every 2 years.

This explains why a 4-year-old computer can barely keep up with the latest video game you have purchased. As computers get faster, new software is written to capitalize on the increased computing power.

Challenges
We are also more connected by technology than ever before. It is now possible to send and receive e-mails or text messages with your coworkers and customers regardless of where in the world you are.

Over 100 million adults in the United States use e-mail regularly (at least once a day)Taylor, C. (2002, June 10). 12 Steps for email addicts. Technology has also brought a lot of challenges to individuals and organizations alike.

To combat the overuse of e-mail, companies such as Intel have instituted “no e-mail Fridays,” in which all communication is done via other communication channels. The technology trend contains challenges for organizational behavior.

Flattening World
Thomas Friedman’s book The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century makes the point that the Internet has “flattened” the world and created an environment in which there is a more level playing field in terms of access to information.

This access to information has led to an increase in innovation, as knowledge can be shared instantly across time zones and cultures. It has also created intense competition, as the speed of business is growing faster and faster all the time.

In his book Wikinomics, Don Tapscott notes that mass collaboration has changed the way work gets done, how products are created, and the ability of people to work together without ever meeting.