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Southern California Job Market: Working Into The Next Century : Mid-career Crunch : The World Of Worker Input

May 15, 1988

Companies all over the nation have programs to increase the role of workers in decision making. Some programs involve worker committees and teamwork; others involve pay. Here is a summary of the more common programs. The list was prepared by the Bureau of Labor-Management Relations at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Employee Involvement Groups or Quality Circles: These are groups of eight to 12 employees from the same department or work area. The groups address problems of mutual concern, and they allow employees to take part in decision-making on matters that immediately affect their work.

Labor-Management Committees: These committees consist of union and employer representatives from a particular organization or facility who meet regularly to discuss and recommend solutions or make decisions concerning issues of mutual concern.

Quality of Work Life Programs: QWL is a philosophy of work organization that emphasizes employee involvement in workplace decisions. It has come to symbolize any effort to improve productivity and quality by increasing employee satisfaction, interest or morale.

Socio-Technical Systems: STS is a process for analyzing the factors--both human and technical--to be considered in the design of work and the work setting. The self-esteem and skills of the people who work with machines are considered at least as important as functioning of the machines.

Work Teams: A group of multiskilled workers who take responsibility for quality, production, technical problems and team-member training.

Pay for Knowledge: This is a system that determines pay based on the number of tasks or jobs a worker is able to perform.

Employee Stock Ownership Plans or Trusts: This is a financial mechanism that gives employees the opportunity--or, sometimes, requires them--to buy stock in the company.

Gain-Sharing Plans: These plans are group incentive systems in which employees get tangible compensation for producing more and better goods.

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