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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 2001  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/06/2001   
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Contents >> Work >> Paid Work: Changes experienced at work

Paid Work: Changes experienced at work

In 1998, 55% of employees who had been with their current employer for one year or more reported changes to their work over the past year.

Over the past 10 to 20 years the concept of a career has altered. At the same time, the Australian labour market has undergone many changes, including the introduction of multiskilling and the increase in part-time work, and many employees have experienced broader job descriptions and more diverse working arrangements. Both men and women have had more varied working lives as a result.

Employees experience career changes not only when they move between employers (see Australian Social Trends 2001, Changing employer or business), but also while working for the same employer. This article focuses on changes experienced in the workplace (promotions, transfers, changes in hours, changes in location, new, different or extra duties, and more responsibility) by employees who have been working with the same employer for one year or more.


Career experience
This article draws on data from the ABS Career Experience Survey, which was last conducted in November 1998 as a supplement to the ABS monthly Labour Force Survey. The survey collects information on various aspects of career experience, including changes experienced at work during the last year for employees who have worked with their current employer for one year or more. These changes include:
  • promotion - a permanent increase in wage or salary and an increase in responsibility or the complexity of work;
  • transfer - a change in position that does not involve a change in wage or salary or level of responsibility;
  • change in hours - a change in the number of hours usually worked per week;
  • changed location - a change in the place of business across states, cities, and towns, and across different suburbs within cities and major towns. Movements within the same building or between different buildings in the same complex are not considered to be a change in location;
  • new, different or extra duties - a perceived change in the scope of tasks performed at work; and
  • more responsibility - a perceived increase in the level of responsibility experienced at work.

An employee is a person who works for a public or private employer and receives remuneration in wages, salary, commission, tips or piece-rates, or who works as an owner-manager of an incorporated enterprise, that is, an individual who works in their limited liability company, either with or without employees. Owner-managers of incorporated enterprises are estimated to make up 9% of total employees.1 In the survey, they were not asked if they had been promoted or transferred. School students aged 15-20 years and persons working solely for payment in kind were excluded completely from the survey.

Casual employees are those who are not entitled to paid annual or sick leave, while permanent employees are those who are entitled to both kinds of paid leave.


Changes in work
In 1998, 77% of all employees had worked with their current employer for one year or more, and of these employees, 55% had experienced some change(s) to their work in the past year. In many cases more than one change was experienced, and often these changes were related. For example, a promotion usually resulted in new, different or extra duties and more responsibility.

In 1998, the most commonly experienced changes were those involving the range of tasks and responsibilities associated with a particular job. Of all employees working with their current employer for one year or more, 38% reported an increase in responsibility and 36% reported new, different or extra duties.

While for some employees, new duties and responsibilities were associated with promotions (7%) and transfers (8%), the majority of employees who took on more tasks and responsibilities did not actually change positions. In other words, changes within jobs were more common than changes between jobs. This could be associated with workers taking on more tasks and responsibilities as they become increasingly experienced in a job. It could also be associated with restructuring and the introduction of new technology, which have made existing job descriptions broader and more diverse.2 In addition to these changes, 17% of employees working with their current employer for one year or more experienced either an increase or a decrease in the number of hours usually worked per week.

Little has altered between 1993 and 1998 in terms of the types of changes experienced by employees. There have been slight decreases in the proportions of people who reported experiencing new, different or extra duties and more responsibility at work over this time period, but the proportions of employees experiencing other changes to work have remained stable over the 1990s.

EMPLOYEES(a) EXPERIENCING CHANGES IN WORK IN THE PAST YEAR(b)

(a) Employees working with current employer for one year or more.
(b) Employees may have experienced more than one change in the past year.
(c) Excludes owner-managers of incorporated enterprises who were not asked if they were promoted or transferred.

Source: Career Experience, Australia, 1993 and 1998 (ABS cat. no. 6254.0).


Employee characteristics
Career experience varied widely according to whether employees were full-time or part-time, and whether they were permanent or casual. In 1998, permanent employees were the most likely to have experienced some change(s) to their work (58% of permanent full-time employees and 57% of permanent part-time employees).

EMPLOYEES(a): WHETHER EXPERIENCED CHANGES IN WORK BY SELECTED EMPLOYEE CHARACTERISTICS, 1998

Working full-time
Working part-time


Permanent
Casual
Permanent
Casual
Total

Types of changes
%
%
%
%
%
    Promoted(b)
8.9
2.6
3.5
1.3
7.0
    Transferred(b)
9.4
*1.8
6.5
2.5
7.8
    Change in hours
14.1
15.2
31.3
23.0
17.0
    Changed location
9.7
9.7
7.6
8.3
9.3
    New, different, extra duties
40.5
20.3
33.8
20.1
36.1
    More responsibility
43.1
24.4
32.4
19.6
38.0
    Total experiencing change(c)
57.7
41.8
56.9
42.6
54.7

'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
Total employees(a)
3,846.3
345.1
534.7
670.3
5,396.5

(a) Employees working with current employer for one year or more.
(b) Excludes owner-managers of incorporated enterprises who were not asked if they had been promoted or transferred.
(c) Employees may have experienced more than one change in the past year and therefore components do not add to total.

Source: Career Experience, Australia, 1998 (ABS cat. no. 6254.0); ABS 1998 Career Experience Survey.


Employees who were both full-time and permanent were the most likely to have experienced more responsibility (43%), new, different or extra duties (41%), transfers (9%), and promotions (9%).

The change most commonly experienced by part-time employees was a change in hours (31% of part-time permanent employees and 23% of part-time casual employees). This included changes from full-time to part-time hours as well as variations to working hours for employees who were already part-time.

EMPLOYEES(a) EXPERIENCING A CHANGE IN HOURS, 1998

(a) Employees working with their current employer for one year or more.

Source: Career Experience, Australia, 1998 (ABS cat. no. 6254.0).


Length of time in current position
Around 6% of employees who had worked with their current employer for one year or more had changed positions in the last 12 months. Three quarters (76%) had been transferred while 59% had been promoted.

These employees were also more likely to have experienced change in terms of new, different or extra duties (83%), more responsibility (76%), a change in hours (36%) and a change in location (24%) than employees who had worked in their current position for one year or more.

As years in current position increased, employees were less likely to have experienced changes at work. However, the proportions experiencing new, different or extra duties and more responsibility remained high after 10 years or more in the same position (26% and 29% respectively). New duties and responsibilities were therefore not restricted to employees who were new to their positions.

EMPLOYEES(a): WHETHER EXPERIENCED CHANGES IN WORK, 1998

Years in current position

Less than 1
1–2
3–4
5–9
10 and over
Total

Types of changes
%
%
%
%
%
%
    Promoted(b)
59.3
7.1
1.9
1.4
*0.5
7.0
    Transferred(b)
76.2
5.9
2.3
1.5
*0.7
7.8
    Change in hours
36.2
18.0
16.6
14.3
11.9
17.0
    Changed location
24.1
9.5
8.0
8.5
6.4
9.3
    New, different, extra duties
83.2
36.5
33.0
32.9
26.0
36.1
    More responsibility
75.9
39.0
36.4
34.6
28.6
38.0
Total experiencing change(c)
99.4
56.1
53.7
50.5
42.8
54.7

'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
Total employees(a)
346.4
1,868.4
1,069.3
1,066.9
1,045.6
5,396.5

(a) Employees working with current employer for one year or more.
(b) Excludes owner-managers of incorporated enterprises who were not asked if they had been promoted or transferred.
(c) Employees may have experienced more than one change in the past year and therefore components do not add to total.

Source: ABS 1998 Career Experience Survey.


Experiences of men and women
The proportions of men and women who had experienced changes to their work were similar overall (53% of men and 57% of women). However, there were some differences between men and women in the types of changes experienced. These may be related to variations in work patterns which reflect the different social and family roles of men and women.

In 1998, women were more likely than men to have experienced new, different or extra duties (38% of women compared with 34% of men) or a change in hours (20% of women compared with 15% of men). This could be associated with women changing from full-time to part-time positions or vice versa to accommodate child care needs and experiencing changes to the content of jobs as a result. In keeping with this, a change in hours was more commonly experienced by women with children under 6 years (27%) than by women overall.

As discussed earlier, full-time permanent employees were more likely than other employees to have been promoted or transferred in the previous year. Within this group, women were more likely than men to have been promoted (10% compared with 8%) and transferred (11% compared with 9%). However, because women were less likely than men to have been employed on a full-time permanent basis (56% compared with 83%), the overall proportion of women promoted and transferred was similar to that of men.

FULL-TIME PERMANENT EMPLOYEES(a) PROMOTED(b) AND TRANSFERRED(b), 1998

(a) Employees working with their current employer for one year or more.
(b) Excludes owner-managers of incorporated enterprises who were not asked if they had been promoted or transferred.

Source: Career Experience, Australia, 1998 (ABS cat. no. 6254.0).


Age of employees
The types of changes experienced at work may reflect different stages in the working lives of employees, from when they first enter the labour force, to when they become established in their careers, to when they approach retirement. These stages tend to be associated with the age of employees.

Those aged 15-19 years were more likely to have experienced a change in hours than employees of any other age (21% of 15-19 year olds). Almost half (44%) of this age group were casual employees, many of whom were full-time students. Few promotions and transfers were experienced by employees aged 15-19 years (6% and 7% respectively). This age group comprises employees who are beginning their careers and therefore have only worked with their current employer for a short period of time.

People aged 20-34 years were the most likely to have experienced some change (61%), as these employees have the highest incidence of career advancement and experience a greater range of tasks and responsibilities as a result. This age group was the most commonly promoted (11%) and transferred (11%), partly a reflection of the higher proportion who were full-time permanent employees (67%).

Fewer changes at work were experienced by employees in older age groups, as workers became more established in their careers and the opportunities for promotion and transfer narrowed. However, many employees aged 35 years and over still experienced some change to their work. In particular, large proportions experienced more responsibility (37% of 35-54 year olds and 22% of employees aged 55 years and over) and new, different or extra duties (36% of 35-54 year olds and 23% of employees aged 55 years and over). Changes at work were therefore present regardless of age and length of time spent in the workforce.

EMPLOYEES(a): WHETHER EXPERIENCED CHANGES IN WORK BY SEX AND AGE, 1998

Age (years)

Males
Females
15-19
20-34
35-54
55 and over

Types of changes
%
%
%
%
%
%
    Promoted(b)
7.1
6.9
5.8
10.7
5.4
2.2
    Transferred(b)
7.4
8.2
7.0
11.0
6.5
3.2
    Change in hours
14.7
19.7
21.3
19.2
15.9
12.5
    Changed location
10.2
8.3
8.2
11.1
8.8
5.8
    New, different, extra duties
34.3
38.3
35.8
40.5
35.5
22.7
    More responsibility
37.8
38.2
40.5
43.4
37.1
21.7
Total experiencing change(c)
53.2
56.5
55.7
60.6
53.8
37.6

'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
Total employees(a)
3,000.3
2,396.2
156.0
1,935.5
2,776.8
528.1

(a) Employees working with current employer for one year or more.
(b) Excludes owner-managers of incorporated enterprises who were not asked if they had been promoted or transferred.
(c) Employees may have experienced more than one change in the past year and therefore components do not add to total.

Source: Career Experience, Australia, 1998 (ABS cat. no. 6254.0); ABS 1998 Career Experience Survey.


Endnotes
1 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2000, Employment Arrangements and Superannuation, April to June 2000, cat. no. 6361.0, ABS, Canberra.

2 Industry Taskforce on Leadership and Management Skills 1995, Enterprising Nation, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.



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