Occupational Stress and Employee Control
Many organizations have increased employee control to make jobs better for employees, often redesigning their processes or flipping around the chain of command. For example, Ford Motor Company has shifted virtually all of its manufacturing operations to a team-based approach in which employees have far greater control over their work. Rather than simply follow directions from supervisors, employees can, for example, talk directly to suppliers about parts quality, research better ways to run equipment, and take independent action to eliminate product defects. he pilot program, which began at Ford's Romeo, Mich. engine plant in the early 1990s, raised productivity and quality along with job satisfaction so successfully that Ford expanded the approach, giving virtually all employees targets and allowing them to find ways to reach them.
Telework has also given many workers greater control over decisions, embracing a wide range of alternative workplace arrangements such as telecommuting and virtual, mobile or satellite offices. Enabled by widespread Internet access and allowing companies to reduce overhead, telework also allows employees to control where, and to some extent when, they do their work. The International Telework Association and Council (ITAC) reports that by 2002, the number of telecommuters in the United States stood at 46.9 million (divided more or less equally between employed and self-employed). Organizations such as American Express, AT&T, IBM and Merrill Lynch have a significant number of employees who take advantage of this form of employee control. To determine its success, AT&T surveyed managers in 1999. Sixty-eight percent of the managers said that their productivity increased while telecommuting. Moreover, 76 percent were happier with their jobs and 79 percent were happier with their careers in general, while 79 percent reported higher satisfaction with their personal and family lives.
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American Psychological Association, November 3, 2003