Written Research Report 1600 words Essay Example
Companies in Australia have been planning for the future demands of the workforce and in so doing, are trying to understand the motivators behind each generation of workers. This is what has brought transformation in the workforce. For instance, with Baby Boomers moving towards retirement, efforts are made to ensure that the vacuum is bridged. Then there is emotional labour— the attempts of an employee to display the right emotions. Within this context, the individual suppresses or evokes a given emotion so as to conform to certain social norms of organisations. This report analyses workforce changes and how emotional labour is an issue in service industries.
How the workforce is changing in Australia
The Australian workforce can be seen as a case where changes affecting the workforce are embedded. From the period of the Baby Boomers to the Next Generation, such changes have been encouraged, as they ensure service are done within market competitions. Within Australian organisations, there have been differing styles, values, and opposing attitudes amongst generations which have necessitated transformations in the workforce. As David Blanchflower and John Oswald (2010) note, the current working environment within Australia makes for organisations comprised of four generations, where these generations have been trying replace each other.
Currently, the workforce that has been driving these organisations is the Baby Boomers, who, according to Davis Edger (2011), are moving closer to retirement and are quickly replaced or have been replaced by a fresher and more enthusiastic workforce. To conceptualise this point, Charles Clegg (2009) researches on Victoria, which is an organisation with a diverse and strong economy. Its economy has been driven by an even stronger workforce comprised of staff aged over 55 years, meaning that the workforce belongs to the Boomers. As a matter of fact, Clegg adds that ‘…70% of its highly skilled workforce comprises hardworking generation (104). However, from 2010, Victoria has been in the process of changing its demographic composition, with the high rate of Baby Boomers retiring or retired. This has been done with the aim of shaping Victoria to be a ‘radically unique workforce’ that conforms to technological demands and changes (Clegg 2009, 109). To affirm these findings, Peter Lewis and Lisa Seltzer (2010) argue that the dynamics of the Australian workforce have been changing from Baby Boomers to what has been termed Generations X and Y. It is actually reported that in 2009 alone, Australia had about 176,000 fresh graduates seeking to practice their innovations within the labour market. Such innovations sought to do away with the old generation especially in the shrinking labour pool (Commonwealth of Australia 2010).
An important factor that needs to be understood with regard to how the workforce is changing is the generational cohort theory, which is in turn embedded in the differentiation and segmentation of a population based on experience or age. Such changes have been brought by a desire to attitudes and beliefs the cohort has with regard to their shared life and the aspirations of their organisations. The point of this argument is that innovations and technology has greatly changed the working environment, and this has called for changes in organisations. With cohorts such as Generation Next, Generation Tech and IGeneration dictating the compostion of an organisation, when changes are engineered, organisations aspire to replace Baby Boomers and Generation X, since they want to be adaptive to innovations and technology. Paul Miller (20007) takes a case study of Rio Tinto Group which has changed some of its workforce to be technology oriented, and retained Baby Boomers, as they are generally loyal and hold the majority of decision-making power within the Company.
The growth of global organisations, or rather, multinational companies, coupled with technology, has been used to explain how the workforce has been changing (Ferres and Firns 2010). David Jones Limited in Australia is a retail department store whose workforce has shifted to individuals who are technology oriented. In Australia, the 1990s recession led to mergers, collapses and downsizing which forced these organisations to adopt Generation Tech and IGeneration. These changes have been brought by the fact that these generations are classified as self-confident, structured and optimistic, but not ready to conform to organizational goals and aspirations due to their agility and impatience. Research on an Australian firm was carried out by Quantum Market to assess how changes have been taking place in major organisations (Quantum Market Research 2010). According to this research, these changes have been brought by an attempt to adopt a workforce that aspires to generate revenue for the firm. It noted that this workforce is comprised of Generation Next, Generation Tech and IGeneration.
These changes have had different consequences to organisational cultures and operations. First, these changes bring a shift towards new values and priorities. For instance, as much as the values of Generation Next have been highlighted, it reveals that what constitutes a good ethic can be interpreted differently and uniquely, depending on the structure of modern organisations. For instance, Lewis and Seltzer (2010) argue that Boomers believe in working 42 to 60 hours per week, which is viewed differently by Generation Next. This compromises the values of organizations, which will virtually adjust their practices and policies to fit the values of Generation Next, Generation Tech and IGeneration.
On the other hand, there are positive consequences associated with such changes in the workforce. As already noted, changes have seen younger generations taking over from Baby Boomers who are now retiring or retrenching. The younger generations, according to Lewis and Seltzer (2010), thrive on challenge, training and opportunity. Additionally, they look for technology at the workplace. For instance, the adoption of technology by these generations has changed the nature of work, where organisations now experience a case where more workers are retrenched and the ones that are retained are trained to conform to modern requirements in the market, something that has affected a number of segments of the workforce with more mobility.
Emotional labour is the attempt of an employee to display the right emotions. To this end, the individual suppresses or evokes a given emotion so as to conform to certain social norms of organsitions. This is the reason why emotional labour has been an issue for employees in fast-paced service industries. To understand how emotional labour has been an issue, one need to look at the issue from the perspective of Hochschild’s two types of emotional acting: deep acting and surface acting.
Beginning with ‘feeling rules’ as argued by (Edger, 2011), in order to comprehend emotional labour within the context of Australia, there is a need to determine the correct emotional response for a given situation. Taking a case study of Virgin Australia, the airline company, there are set policies that are likely to cover conduct with regard to customers. Another example is Suncorp Group, where such feeling rules are applied. In the case Suncorp Group as Edger (2011) argues, there is an insistence on enthusiasm, sincerity, confidence and a sense of humour in their service delivery and personnel. Therefore the issue is that within fast-paced service industries, these employees must conform to these demands. Feeling rules within the context of the airline industry concerns a case where Virgin Australia and Qantas met to harmonise with an aim of gaining dynamic revenue management within the airlines. While one thinks that s/he is wise in the speech, this may offend others. This is why Australian workers should show politeness and courtesy to customers regardless of the emotional response they receive in the process of interacting with these customers.
Henry Mackay (2006) researches the case of Suncorp Group and finds that it is easy to note emotional labour when service transactions are not streamlined. In such transactions, customers will be upsetting and irritating, asking questions that have perhaps already been provided for or explained. The service industry requires, however, that employees remain self-controlled, evoking positive emotions and suppressing negative ones.
Banks in Australia can further demonstrate how emotional labour has become an issue for employees in financial institutions. In these institutions, employees have strict rules by which they operate with the customers, while they have certain expectations of good service. These rules have been explained by Aroni Minichiello and Lewis Alexander (2001) in 10 dimensions of rule including courtesy, trustworthiness, approachability, and understanding. The expectations of every employee in this industry change depending on the moods and expectations of customers; — something that employees should conform to. In this case, ‘the feeling rules of the employee, as they may be true or correct, would not satisfy the customer served’ (Minichiello and Alexander 2001, 27).
Hochschild’s theory with regard to the service industry and emotional labour has different perspectives.. Richard Sayers (2009) describes how feeling rules have the ability to change from profession to profession. The suggestion is that a shop owner or assistant, for instance, can get by with fewer feeling rules compared to a trainer. While this is the case in most service industries, the need for employees to check on their labour remains an important issue. That is, a shop attendant who constantly provokes or show little interest in serving customers is likely to cause customers to not return to the shop or store. A lack of interest in customers is not the only issue for these employees, but they should also embrace the 10 dimensions of expectations so as to fulfill a good service transaction.
Emotional labour is equally an issue for employees with regard to counselors who need even more guidance with feeling rules. Emotional labour also touches on assistance with recovering from bad emotional experiences. Scholars such as Clark and Oswald (2009) believe that de-briefing is the best way for employees within the counseling profession to handle their customers or clients. Surface acting is the case where these employees can surface act by pretending to feel an emotion. In as much as there are consequences that have been linked to surface acting, they are the burden service industry workers must deal with when it comes to customers service deliveries.
Finally, it is clear that as service industries continue to be aggressive and robust, customers will continue to have inherent expectations for good service that are also pegged on the 10 dimensions. It is expected in the service industry that within such dimensions, customers will always have unreliable and very high hope based on their personality or moods. On the other hand, these dimensions are anticipated by emotional labour. Due to this, an employee is challenged by the firm not to turn the customer away forever due to a poor emotional attitude. Because the topic remains important, it is increasingly researched and will be better understood through future changes to service industries.
This report has reviewed a number of factors that are behind workforce changes in Australia. The report finds that technological advancement is the reason that explains how these changes occur within Australian Companies. Additionally, the report finds that although modern generations offer necessary technological efforts, their desires and visions of the organization show non-commitment, as compared to Baby Boomers. Additionally, the report has reviewed how emotional labour has become an issue within the service industry. In the process, it noted that the main issue with emotional labour is to ensure that there is efficient service delivery.
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