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Why the Workplace has become more Impersonal

Hiding out at work
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"Why the Workplace has become more Impersonal"
Caption: Hiding out at work
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Many of our parents or grandparents started a job right out of high school or college and remained with the same company until they retired  Today, it is far more difficult to find someone who is in this enviable position. Combine this with other changes that have happened over time and you are less likely to be surprised as to why the workplace has become more impersonal. Here are some of the primary reasons for this phenomenon.

National and international companies

In years past, it was not unusual for companies to have only a single facility. While company owners may not have been at that facility on a daily basis, they often did make it a point to make themselves visible.  This visibility often meant that the company owner knew their employees and perhaps knew a fair amount about the family of the employee.  Today, more and more companies have headquarters that are not local and they no longer know the people that help make their business a success.  Companies often have human resources departments that insulate the company owner from the employees.

Layers of management

Many people who were hired to work at a company sent their application to a specific department head.  Candidates would then meet with that department head and often this is who would handle hiring decisions. Once inside the company, the employee worked for the same person until they changed departments or the manager retired.  Today, it is highly unlikely that initial job interviews are conducted by supervisors, instead many go through a Human Resources department.  Once this hurdle is overcome by the employee, there may be several more layers of interviews before someone is hired.  The layers of management have created barriers to senior management to get to know employees.

As companies have expanded and more people are hired, it is not unusual for multiple layers of managers to be added as well. Sometimes this is done as business models change, but in other cases, it does seem that the added layer of managerial oversight is excessive.  Today, it is not uncommon to have a team leader, a supervisor, a manager and a senior manager. As a single department grows and additional management layers are added, the workplace becomes far more impersonal, moving the employee further away from the decision-makers.

Higher turnover rates

Retention of employees is a challenge that many companies struggle with. More people are spending fewer than five years in any one job and because of this turnover, new people are coming in on a regular basis. As these changes take place, it is becoming more difficult for employees to develop internal relationships with co-workers and management. This has contributed significantly to the workplace becoming more impersonal.

Outsourcing, additional management levels and delegation of authority have contributed to the changing face of the workplace. While some of these steps are critical to allow companies to succeed, these changes have contributed to a changing work environment.  These are just a few of the reasons why the workplace has become more impersonal. This is a trend that is unlikely to change unless companies make a conscious decision to stop adding layers of management and encourage people to stay on the job longer.

More about this author: Doreen Martel

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