A nationwide study of workers' attitudes by the Wyatt Co., a management consulting company, says most firms are good at talking at their workers. About 80 percent of the 5,836 full-time and 798 part-time workers who took part in the survey said they understand their companies' goals.
But just 38 percent of the workers said employers do a good job of seeking workers' views and suggestions. That is down from 42 percent in a 1989 survey.
Fewer than one-third of the workers said their employers do a good job of involving workers in decisions that affect them.
Improving bar codes
A growing alliance of angry supermarket and discount retailers, fed up with strained customer relations and lost productivity, is clamping down on manufacturers who don't print accurate and dependable bar codes -- the ubiquitous 1-inch square of black lines printed on all on products.
Bar codes now work the first time they're passed over a scanner on about 80 percent of products. Retailers want that rate to improve to at least 95 percent.
"When it doesn't work it takes probably three times the amount of time to enter an item. It creates a big delay in the whole checkout line," said Thomas Brady, technical director of the Uniform Code Council Inc. The council is a not-for-profit group in Dayton, Ohio, established to maintain standards for the bar codes, or Universal Product Codes.
An increasing number of retailers -- including large discounters -- are refusing to accept products with faulty bar codes. Some threaten "charge-back" fees against food manufacturers and others who sell such goods.
More work, less play
Although the U.S. Chamber of Commerce predicted in 1978 that a 32-hour, four-day workweek would replace the 40-hour, five-day workweek, by 1990 the country was edging toward a 60-hour workweek.
Americans not only work longer hours, they also have shorter vacation times than almost everyone else in the world -- although it's usually not by choice.
"We found that in the period from 1969 to 1989, the average person worked 158 hours more a year and at the same time paid vacations decreased," said economist Laura Leete-Guy.
She's co-author with Juliet B. Schor of "The Great American Time Squeeze: Trends in Work and Leisure, 1969-1989," a study done for the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. Their research shows paid vacations, including holidays, sick leave and personal days, declined to 16.1 days in 1989 from 16.4 days in 1969.