If you were asked what the most important asset for your business is, you would probably think of the huge sacrifice in form of capital that you made, your equipment, technology, unparalleled marketing strategy, excellent customer service or even your intellectual property. While all these are important in giving the business an added advantage, the key asset a company needs to link together the other assets is the Human Asset. The rest will all need a human hand to get them moving, don’t you agree?
We find that in most cases, the success or failure of an enterprise will largely be proportional to the quality of its human resource. Any plans to move the business forward will heavily lean on the caliber of the human resource.
However, this is an asset whose environment is constantly changing. Its many facets are never fixed. Thus, the quality and morale of the human resource need to be monitored on a continual basis as the internal and external environment surrounding the business keeps evolving.
There are many change issues that affect this very important resource. In turn, this affect its quality, morale, productivity and ultimately the business’ productivity and success. This article tackles the most critical contemporary change issues affecting HR and how to manage them. These will include:
Cross generational challenges.
Technological advances and human resource asset.
Need to align the human resource strategy with the overall business strategy.
Need to be a change agent.
Measuring the value of the human resource asset.
Never before has there been a cross generation of people working in the same organization as it is today. The many ideas, opinions and ways of doing the most basic of things can be baffling, to say the least. Talk of baby boomers, generation X, Y and the Millennial, all are to be found in today’s work environment. While the baby boomers are beginning to retire, the rest are now mandated to take up management positions that are being left vacant.
Intergenerational conflicts are likely to occur as the values, priorities, focus, education and upbringing of these generations are way apart. The younger generation is less concerned with loyalty – as opposed to the older generation – and more concerned with what the company can do for them.
Some of the characteristics that are common in the younger generations, and especially the millennials who are the majority, include:
The fact that they are highly educated and risk averse;
They are technologically savvy;
Conscious (of health, social, economic and environmental issues);
They value transparency and open communication;
Most are entrepreneurial;
Their constituent is such that they are diverse in terms of race, tribe etc;
They are the microwave generation who ‘want it now’, impatient and adventurous;
Millenials want to stay true to whom they are and their individuality and they are global citizens, not to be confined to a certain culture.
On the other hand, the older generation is largely opposite. Most of our parents are jealously loyal to their employers and even their stories after retire are of nostalgic fond memories of their jobs. Which stories is your daddy, mummy or grannies fond of?
So how is an employer to handle such diversity between the generations? Below are some ways that organizations have used and can use in handling the multi-generational issues:
Encouraging the expression of the younger generation’s creativity, education and enthusiasm by creating innovation hubs.
Creation of mentorship programmes where the older employees mentor, coach and nurture the younger.
Knowledge retention efforts – by allowing the older employees to retire but still continue working. Knowledge management should also be embraced whereby knowledge is centralized and easily accessible.
Leadership training to transition the Millenials into leadership positions.
Embracing up to date technology to enable the Millenials feel at home and become more productive, while training their ‘Parents’ to become more technology friendly. Things like the Intranet and IT Systems are worth a try.
Decentralization – This enables the older ones to learn new things and the ever adventurous Millennials to explore new areas.
Talent management – This enables employees to stay true to their authenticity and fit into their area of expertise.
Unity in diversity – Allowing employees from different backgrounds to work together rather than segregating them.
Work-life balance – This can be done through such plans as flexi-time; employee welfare programmes, holidays and leaves.
Transparency and clear communication- This enhances understanding between management, the older and the younger generations.
Technological Advances and Human Resource
In today’s post modern organization, technology is at the core. An organization will either embrace technological advances to stay relevant or die off. The human resource or people are the drivers of this technological change, and so the HR Department is critical in all this. It is predicted that Millennials, (the tech-savvy generation), will make up 75% of the workforce by 2020. This confirms that there is no running away from technology.