What are examples of problems and opportunities that have inspired change in a business and in employees?
This is a very interesting question and a timely one as the US still struggles to fully recover from the financial institution collapse. One change that came about in the credit card manufacture industry (not the credit industry but the card industry itself) is that new issue and reissue cards are thinner and of a different quality plastic. You can easily see the difference between the old and new because the new material tends to curve upward. This change, of course, was initiated as a cost-cutting measure to keep profitability in a viable range.
Another change in the organic foods industry, precipitated by the same economic environment and initiated for the same cost reduction objective, is evident in bottled organic peanut butter. Previously, the recipe for peanut butter was dense on peanut meat and light on peanut oil, making the peanut butter very hard to stir (necessary to blend the oil and nut meat). Now, the recipe has been reformulated so that the product is as soft and silky and easy to stir as warm butter with the ratio of nut meat to oil shifting dramatically to the oil side: oil now has a greater quantity and nut meat has a lessened density.
One opportunity for employees that has arisen from the same economic environment and initiated by the same objectives is the opportunity of working on flextime hours and of opting to telecommute. With flextime, employees have many options of fulfilling their required work hours including ease of rescheduling work hours around family needs and appointments and including the option of working flexible hours around "core" and flex times and including job-sharing between employees. Telecommute opportunities lessen stress, increase productivity, and have the potential to reduce both overhead costs and negative impact on the local ecosystem because of lessened auto traffic. This flexibility among employees allows employers greater opportunity as well since more service hours and options can be made available to customers and for supply chain providers.