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Workplace opportunities and stresses are both increasing
Date:12/13/2007

CT systems compared with those in similar jobs which are controlled by more traditional methods. Evidence of work strain is particularly strong among administrative and white-collar staff in places such as call centres, where it rises by 10 per cent among employees whose work is continually checked by ICT systems.

Computers and IT systems are bringing surveillance to most workplaces, comments Michael White, who co-directed the research study. Now for the first time we can see how this development is damaging employees well-being.

The research, funded as part of the ESRCs Future of Work research programme, covers the period 1984-2004 and shows significant changes in the prospects and job conditions of British employees: the results are published this week in a book Market, Class, and Employment co-authored by Patrick McGovern, Stephen Hill, Colin Mills and Michael White.

On the basis of US experience, it had been widely supposed that the highly competitive market environment in which most businesses and much of the public sector now operate would lead to moves towards hire and fire practices, temporary jobs and a decline in training and the concept of careers. But the research finds that, although British employers use redundancy as a normal way of adjusting staff numbers, in general they have not abandoned the retention and long-term development of employees.

The proportion of employees in permanent employment remains above 90 per cent and rose during the 1990s. Fixed-term or casual employment grew in the 1980s but declined during the 1990s. Increased use by employers of communication techniques, employee participation, team organization, training and development, and rewards for performance all point to efforts to maintain a long-term workforce.

A decline in trade union recognition and membership, say the researchers, could expose employees to unfair treatment. But this has in part been balanced by a growth in altern
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Contact: Alexandra Saxon
alexandra.saxon@esrc.ac.uk
01-793-413-032
Economic & Social Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

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