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The changing nature of work and workers is a topic that has excited substantial interest and discussion across academic disciplines, organizations, and the popular press. To the degree that statements and proposals "due to the changing nature of work/workers" are supported and, therefore, the nature of work/workers has changed, then the approaches commonly used by organizations for attracting, retaining, and rewarding talent must also change in order to maintain a competitive advantage. Similarly, to the extent that work has changed, workers will need to adapt to a workplace that requires different skills, is differently organized, and where the assumptions of the past may no longer hold. This chapter introduces the topic of the changing nature of work and workers, describes common methods used to analyze change, offers a conceptual model of the changing nature of work, and summarizes the major themes covered in this handbook.
Many writings on the changing nature of work portray the employee–organization relationship as a casualty of the modern workplace. This chapter reviews social exchange models of the employee–organization relationship as captured in organizational support and psychological contract theories. We explore the evidence of the extent to which the employee–organization relationship has changed as a result of changes in employment practices over the past several decades. Our analysis considers both overall trends in the employee–organization relationship as well as specific issues tied to temporary and part-time work, independent contractors, tripartite employment relationships, job insecurity, job hopping, and income inequality. The evidence suggests that while certain employment practices threaten the quality of the employee–organization relationship, social exchange models provide useful and relevant frameworks through which to understand the nature of these changes and employees’ reactions to them.
This handbook provides an overview of the research on the changing nature of work and workers by marshalling interdisciplinary research to summarize the empirical evidence and provide documentation of what has actually changed. Connections are explored between the changing nature of work and macro-level trends in technological change, income inequality, global labor markets, labor unions, organizational forms, and skill polarization, among others. This edited volume also reviews evidence for changes in workers, including generational change (or lack thereof), that has accumulated across domains. Based on documented changes in work and worker behavior, the handbook derives implications for a range of management functions, such as selection, performance management, leadership, workplace ethics, and employee well-being. This evaluation of the extent of changes and their impact gives guidance on what best practices should be put in place to harness these developments to achieve success.
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