Future Organizational Challenges in the Face of Changing Occupational Reality
How do social and technological changes affect the development of organizations, and what challenges do they set for them? Nurit Tal Shamir, V.P. H.R. at Strauss Group, provides the answers.
You will probably agree with me that we live in very interesting times- times of change. We all witness a wide range of new technologies, applications and tools that produce new behaviors and challenges in all areas of life, including the world of business enterprises.
Naturally, since organizations are comprised of people, such changes do not “skip” the field of human resources. HR is required to prepare and respond to emerging changes within the organization, which are also affected by processes occurring outside of it.
In this post I will share with you some future challenges (as they seem now) that organizations will have to deal with in light of a changing reality. I will describe optional ways to address these challenges and, of course, tell you what we at Strauss plan to do in order to adapt to changes in the work environment and in organizational structures.
First Change: Transforming Organizations Into Multiple-generation Entities
The technological revolution and medical progress brought about breakthroughs with momentous implications for the demographic structure of humanity, which are manifested, among other things, in dramatic increase in life expectancy and in retirement age. At the same time, organizations hire younger employees. This means that an organization can employ, side by side, people from three different generations.
This change presents a challenge to organizations, because each generation has a different culture, language, work habits, learning habits and other needs and expectations.
Second Change: Blurred Boundaries Within the Organization and Beyond
The technological and digital age brought about solutions that bridge the gaps of time and distance – conference calls via live streaming video, turning the smartphone into a “mobile virtual office” and other advance technologies make us available anytime, anywhere. These technologies and global work habits raise the question of whether our presence in the office will be required in the future and will the structure and actual location of the organization still be significant. Moreover, availability and globalism increasingly blur the boundaries between what is defined as “work place and work hours” and “home and leisure hours “.
Either way, I believe that organizations will have to adapt to the new technological environment and become more available, agile and virtual. Physical boundaries will become blurred and define new forms of communication and commitment.
Third Change: Flattened Organizational Structure with Stronger Communities and Informal Structures
The digital world created a new norm and space for expression where each individual can have a virtual arena and social networks to voice their personal opinion or promote their business, creating a language and culture of transparency, equality and expectation to make direct and immediate impact. The ability of organizations to uphold a formal hierarchical system is slipping away. The perception of authority, impact and decision-making are changing significantly to the point where they raise the question of a manager’s place and role in the workplace of the future.
The challenge, which lies in the transition from a hierarchical structure to a “flatter” and “more equal” one, is added with another layer in Israeli society, since a significant proportion of managers acquire their first managerial experience during their military service within an organizational system. This system, which is hierarchical in essence, makes the transition to a “flatter” managerial mode even more complex.
Fourth Change: The Y Generation Becomes Dominant in the Employees Mix
Much has been written about the characteristics of the Y-generation and their bearing on the labor world, but there is no doubt that the loyalty of this generation to new values- growing up in the “lap” of social networking, and their desire to take control over their lives present a challenge to organizations in recruitment, training and management of Y newcomers.
While in the past, our “parents’ generation” was characterized by working for one organization only (Job for life), the X-generation switches jobs and stays in more than workplace, and the Y-generation even expands the concept of the labor world further by managing more than one career.
There is a strong connection between the digital age, in which the new generation grew, and its organizational learning and behavioral patterns. People who grew up on video games and the “open code” language are fast learners, primarily through trial and error and their willingness to take risks.
So what do we do?
Evidently, our perceptions, outlook on life and work processes must be modified in many areas.
Recruitment processes are already undergoing a revolution, relying increasingly on social networks, whereas traditional tools such as newspaper ads and placement companies are becoming irrelevant. Job descriptions and types of roles in an organization are changing frequently. Certain professions disappear from the world, while new professions are being born every day (who could have imagined three years ago that we would recruit bloggers, for example, to the organization?).
However, as we engage in preparations of infrastructures, processes and tools, I would like to highlight some cultural changes that organizations should address.
Developing an appropriate organizational culture. All the changes mentioned above result in one foregone conclusion: organizations become much more transparent and diverse over time. The best way to cope with rapid globalization, multiple generations, the growing differences between them and the blurred boundaries between an organization and its groups, is to implement a culture of diversity and inclusion within the organization.
At Strauss we have been working diligently in recent years to cultivate a culture of diversity and inclusion as a core value. We believe that cornerstones of diversity and inclusion which embrace a culture of acceptance, tolerance, ability to listen, and providing opportunity and room for unique individual capabilities, are the competencies that will enable us to create a work environment more suited to the workplace of the future- multi-generational, accepting Y-generation employees, and facilitating a productive dialogue with all our stakeholders.
Another cultural change will be related to the management culture in the organization – Being a complex global organization, we are already required to train our managers in adopting management capabilities based more on cross-collaboration, virtual management and remote-impact than on hierarchy and formal authority. With the entry of Y-generation into the organization, this trend will only intensify, and we must strengthen an organizational culture that promotes transparency, dialogue and mutual learning.
Clearly, these changes will not be easily implemented, but they are both inevitable and necessary for organizations that wish to be best-prepared for the future work environment.
It is clear to us at Strauss that ultimately, the future is made by man, and if we study these transformations and trends and take an active part in creating the future, while developing our ability to adjust to the new reality, we will be able to deal with changes and even leverage them for further development as both an organization and a business .