It is said we can be certain of two things: death and taxes. A third item needs to be added to that list: change.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in today's workplace. For lots of workers, gone are 8-to-5 days and Monday-through-Friday weeks. It seems too many people's work days have grown to every waking hour, seven days a week. But positive changes for workers also include flex time, job-sharing and compressed work weeks to help balance their too-busy lives.
The Industrial Revolution's emphasis on manufacturing has been replaced with an Information Age emphasis on technology and service. The new economy also is moving away from big companies to small businesses and self-employment.
Expectations also seem to have changed -- those of the workers, the bosses and the customers. Everyone wants it all -- and they want it now.
Jobs people trained for 20 years ago don't exist today, and many of today's opportunities go unfilled because there are not enough qualified people to fill them. Gone are the days when people started their working life with one company and retired with the same company. The number of times today's students are expected to change not only jobs but careers during their working life boggles the mind. They'll be spending their time in jobs that have yet to be created.
As most American workers take a well-deserved break from their labors with Monday's Labor Day holiday, a few more random reflections on work and today's workplace seem appropriate.
n Public policy should reflect changes in how we work.
The dangers of working in front of a computer all day certainly are different from the dangers of working in a mine or on a factory assembly line, but workers' health and safety still are issues. "Information Age" workplace dangers should not be ignored.
n Public policy also should reflect changes in where we work.
With the number of home-based businesses increasing by about a third over the last decade and small businesses creating three-quarters of all new jobs, these elements of the economy should not be overlooked or penalized. Taken together, the nation's small businesses might well be the bread-and-butter of the nation's economy.
n The trends toward home-based businesses and self-employment have broad benefits for society in such areas as transportation, energy and the environment, not to mention family issues, as well.
n Workers need employers, and employers need workers.
How much better the world would be if employers always saw the benefits they get from workers are directly related to how well they treat their workers, and vice versa. In other words, when one group prospers, so does the other. And how much better the world would be if that good treatment of one another was always voluntary and not mandated by governments or unions or anyone else.
In the foreword to the book "Fish!" Ken Blanchard, author of "The One Minute Manager," estimates today's adults spend about 75 percent of their waking time in work-related activities -- "getting ready for work, traveling to work, working, contemplating work, and decompressing after work."
That gives a little perspective to the importance we place on work in our lives.
Our hope is that no matter how you use your Labor Day holiday -- hunting, fishing, gardening, spending time with the family or snoozing in your favorite recliner -- that you will return to work energized and with the knowledge you are appreciated.
After all, it is the workers of America who make the economy's wheels go 'round.
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