First the pessimistic comments:
Even for many who worked in jobs which required a resident human presence, the work environment changed. You, like my husband and I (both thankfully retired now), probably remember a time when mid-level supervisors and managers came from the rank and file, and/or at least were expected to be proficient at any job they supervised. In our later working years, we, along with most of our friends and same-age relatives, were affected by employers' change to the new "professional manager/consultant" style of management, resulting in new managers who knew absolutely nothing about the jobs or workers they supervised, except for a brief description in their "professional manuals" of job duties, average productivity, and salary.
"Seniority, experience and going-the-extra-mile" translated into "outdated dinosaurs who expect benefits and who are difficult to micromanage." These dinosaurs were to be replaced, whenever possible, by cheaper, less experienced, minimal-skills-required-for-the-job workers who would not require benefits (because of being long-time-temporaries from a service, or working part-time), and some jobs could be farmed out more cheaply to a service (for example, medical transcription).
Whatever the particulars, the overall general result was loss of workers' dignity, loss of company/worker mutual loyalty, and the loss of the self-satisfaction and respect earned for a job well done, and, of course, loss of jobs. Workers became little more than human automatons judged by quota and quantity, not skills or quality.
Hope for the future:
Even though the workplace climate has changed, younger generations can and do find new ways to cope and make their jobs meaningful -- for example, social networking and coworker loyalty is strong in some part-time service industries. Workers receive from coworkers the respect and loyalty we used to expect from our employers, and coworkers support each other in getting jobs done well, even though they may be underpaid and without benefits.
Unfortunately, it has to be pointed out that the low salaries and lack of benefits (especially paid time-off and insurance) are very hard on those who have young children. We know of some younger couples who, for strictly practical reasons, choose to delay having children until (hopefully) things improve.
However, overall, we are impressed by the optimistic, strong and resilient spirits our grown children and their friends exhibit. They still enjoy living, in spite of present economic hardships, and still find meaning in their lives. They are interested and active in politics. They are, I suspect, a "strong" generation, able to endure during these hard times, and determined to change the present socioeconomic inequities.
The phoenix will rise from our ashes.