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Reshaping Of The Workforce Of This Decade Published: Sunday, April 9, 2000 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

A predictable condition for this new decade is that it will require more fundamental change efforts involving large scale organizations. A paradox is that the more uncertain the future, the more there is a need for intelligent designed and managed organizations which are purposeful and energized to thrive in such uncertainty.

Several important trends and issues already in evidence will have a dramatic impact on the workplace in this new decade. One imperative will be that of linking business strategy with people development. More and more organizations are recognizing that developing people is central to organizational effectiveness. Leaders of organizations increasingly view the Human Resources component as a member of the strategic team. Now that technology advantages are lessening, what differentiates organizations and provides the competitive edge are skills, commitment and the talent of the workforce. A variety of factors, from increased economic pressures to the problem of overstaffing have led many organizations to the passages of restructuring. Organizations once known for providing job security no longer offer such promises. The threat of changes and concomitant job insecurity have become facts of the new organizational realities.

Another facet is that of a shift in the shape of the existing workforce. More and more workers are moving to a model in which small group of core or essential workers is surrounded by a contingent group of full-time, part-time, temporary and independent contractors; all nonessential functions are outsourced. These new dynamics point towards the changed psychological contract between organizations and employees. One mayor effect has been that of rewriting the unspoken rules and expectation that exist between individuals and the organizations that hire them. The old rules of the game were that in exchange for hard work and loyalty employees were rewarded with a paycheck and the implicit promise of job security for the years to come.

There is a new currency: organizations now offer to the people opportunities for growth, learning and development during their tenure and they expect employees’ commitment for the duration of that tenure. The loyalty shift also involves realms outside the workplace pointing to family, community and religious activities.

An even more pressing reason for organizations to address the work-life balance is the change in demographics, which is composed increasingly of women, young and older workers. Organizations are faced with a variety of employee needs, and recruitment and retention of superior talent are related to how effectively organizations can meet some of these reasonable concerns.

The profound focus on quality will be the number one real concern of competitive organizations. Heralded as the new and profound theory of business, with it focus on delighting the customers, process excellence and breakthrough improvements, the philosophy and culture of quality is seen essential to gaining and maintaining a competitive advantage. But the philosophy of quality happens as employees are empowered to take responsibility for delivering error-free products and services. In this new work environment managers spend much more time coaching, providing resources and championing change.

Achieving organizational effectiveness requires different competencies. Central to success in management is the capacity to lead, inspire others, focus on the big picture, work through teams and deploy all sorts of communication skills. The abilities to think ahead, to cope with contingencies, to be proactive and to maintain customer focus are crucial. With the increased awareness of the importance of the new competencies for competitiveness, organization are emphasizing the condition of learning.

Finally, rapid changes in technology have transform every aspect of the workplace. Technological saviness is required these days for doing business. Competition is increasingly global and success in business demands an understanding of the world. The multicultural focus becomes essential for managing the new rules of the game.

 


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