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From Touch Labour to Knowledge Workers

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Advanced technology tends to reduce the number of jobs that require little skill and to increase the number of jobs that require considerable skill. In general, this transformation has been referred to as a shift from “touch labour” to knowledge workers, in which employee responsibilities expand to include a richer array of activities, such as planning, decision making, and problem solving.20 The workplace of the knowledge worker is described in Highlights in HRM 1.1. Technology, transportation, communications, and utilities industries tend to spend the most on training. Knowledge-based training has become so important that Manpower Inc., the largest employment agency in the United States, offers free information technology training through its Manpower Training and Development Center (http://www.manpowertdc.com), an online university for its employees in its 4000 offices worldwide. The Manpower site features thousands of hours of online instruction in technology applications, along with professional

Competitive Environment
Many factors in the general environment—factors a firm cannot directly control—{an affect its strategic decisions. This is why analyzing the competitive environment is central to strategic planning. The competitive environment includes the specific organizations with which the firm interacts. As Figure 2.2 shows, the competitive environment includes the firm’s customers, rival firms, new entrants, substitutes, and suppliers. A general rule of thumb about this analysis is that the more power each of these forces has, the less profitable (and therefore attractive) the industry will be. Let us look at each of the five forces.

One of the most important assessments a firm can make is identifying the needs of its customers. At a fundament level, a firm’s strategy should focus on creating customer value—and different customers often want different things. For example, in the hotel industry, business travellers may want convenient locations with meeting Facilities. Vacationers may want resort locations with swimming pool golf courses, and luxury spas. Other travellers may just want an inexpensive room next to the highway. The point is that, increasingly, “one size does not fit all,” and organizations need to know how they will provide value to customers. That is the foundation for strategy, and it influences the kind of skills and behaviour that will be needed from employees. For example, actions and attitudes that lead to excellent customer service can include the following: * Speed of delivering normal orders

* Willingness to meet extraordinary needs
* Merchandise delivered in good condition
* Readiness to take back defective goods and resupply new goods quickly
* Availability of installation and repair services and park

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