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Summary: Expectations from employees of the workplace has changed over the last 50 years. This sermon addresses how we find meaning to the chaotic work world we are in.

Bibliography: Culture Shifts, lesson 7; sermon illustrations, work

The Industrial Revolution, by introducing the machine and factory production, greatly expanded the class of workers dependent on wages as their source of income. The terms of the labor contract, working conditions, and the relations between workers and employers early became matters of public concern.

In England, Parliament was averse to legislating on subjects relating to workers because of the prevailing policy of laissez-faire . The earliest factory law (1802) dealt with the health, safety, and morals of children employed in textile mills, and subsequent laws regulated their hours and working conditions.

This notice was found in the ruins of a London office building. It was dated 1852.

1. This firm has reduced the hours of work, and the clerical staff will now only have to be present between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays.

2. Clothing must be of a sober nature. The clerical staff will not disport themselves in raiment of bright colors, nor will they wear hose unless in good repair.

3. Overshoes and topcoats may not be worn in the office, but neck scarves and headwear may be worn in inclement weather.

4. A stove is provided for the benefit of the clerical staff. Coal and wood must be kept in the locker. It is recommended that each member of the clerical staff bring four pounds of coal each day during the cold weather.

5. No member of the clerical staff may leave the room without permission from the supervisor.

6. No talking is allowed during business hours.

7. The craving for tobacco, wine, or spirits is a human weakness, and as such is forbidden to all members of the clerical staff.

8. Now that the hours of business have been drastically reduced, the partaking of food is allowed between 11:30 and noon, but work will not on any account cease.

9. Members of the clerical staff will provide their own pens. A new sharpener is available on application to the supervisor.

10. The supervisor will nominate a senior clerk to be responsible for the cleanliness of the main office and the private office. All boys and juniors will report to him 40 minutes before prayers and will remain after closing hours for similar work. Brushes, brooms, scrubber, and soap are provided by the owners.

11. The owners recognize the generosity of the new labor laws, but will expect a great rise in output of work to compensate for these near Utopian conditions.

Talk about being overworked and underpaid...

Do you ever feel overworked, over-regulated, under-leisured, under-benefited?

The rise of the computer age has changed the way in which people work. The culture shift over the last 40 to 50 years in this area involves a shift from being career oriented to being job oriented. Rather than working for the company for 30 years, people of my generation will have on the average 3 careers. People of my children’s generation will average 6 career changes.

Characteristics of such a job lifestyle include high emphasis on productivity and high stress to perform in the job place. It is an environment that changes from year to year. There is no way of knowing what to expect next.

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