Digital changes for employees
For many employees in companies, digital developments mean profound changes. I am convinced that the digital transformation of work is only just beginning. We are already seeing digital services for customers and, of course, digital tools are the norm in everyday work.
But this seems to me to be only a first visible manifestation of the digital transformation. In the companies of the future will be worked very differently than we do today. And we should be aware that these profound changes in the world of work will not only be welcomed, but that there will be people who respond with fears and incomprehension.
Progress does not make you unemployed
Work has evolved continuously for centuries. What challenges did people face when steam engines moved into the factory halls and began production line production? They have led to enormous productivity gains, especially for relatively low-skilled workers. And some may still remember what doomsday scenarios involved the introduction of PCs in companies in the 1980 years, according to the motto (and mirror title) "progress makes people unemployed".
And did not these advances in information and communication technology, programmable machines, and automation have advantages for highly skilled workers? The history of the work shows that a fundamental transformation does not have to mean the end of the work.
Man as the center of economic activity
But any fundamental change in the conditions of work will change the demands on its quantity and quality. I am convinced that people will continue to be at the center of economic activity in the future.
And that we will need qualified employees more than ever in the future, especially in the service industry. However, the new world of work will be shaped by new digital tools, new digital processes and new job profiles that depend much more on digital skills than before.
2 Trends of Digital Human Resource
However, the change in the world of work to digital tools or digital business models alone falls short in my eyes. Of course, the digital transformation is a defining trend for the work of the future. However, I think two other trends are equally relevant, without which the working environment of tomorrow will not be understood.
1. From the employer to the employee market
First of all, human resources managers have to deal with the fact that the social and economic environment has changed fundamentally. Put simply: from the employer to the employee market. Youth unemployment is very low in Germany compared to many other European countries. There is a good mood on the job market. Often, professionals can choose which job to accept.
It is usually no longer enough just to offer an attractive package to attract good candidates for a company. Questions of culture and communication in companies gain importance for applicants. Companies should emphasize "digitality" in employer branding and in the approach of future applicants more clearly than in the past. And instead of using standardized stock photos, take photos directly from the company. This allows employers to stand out from the competition in a very targeted manner - for a new generation of future employees.
2. Sense and self-actualization
Another trend is the change in the way young people start working. From a sociological perspective, we have five generations of work in most companies today. These include the traditionalists, the baby boomers, the generation X, Y and Z. Even before digitization, different generations worked together in one company. And yet, in view of the importance of work for one's own life satisfaction and the weighting between career and private life, some previously incontrovertible certainties in the companies seem to be questioned as a matter of course.
Instead of the line career, young people are increasingly concerned with meaning and self-realization. Instead of executives, they want coaches as superiors. It is no longer the conductor who leads the way from above with a heavy hand, but the manager who is careful with his working time, with whom he can make direct and equal contact, is the new ideal type. The manager becomes a coach, business areas become a community, and the organization becomes a collaborative and fluid network. For the youngest generation in companies, the differences between their own environment and the world of work are already enormous.
Work organization must change
How we are organized in companies, how we work, how we manage, what digital tools we use - all of this seems to be a cosmos of our own for most of our youngest employees. And it will be the job of HR managers to overcome these different digital worlds of experience between work and personal life.
And the timing could not be better. The need for more self-determination and mobility among employees is undoubtedly present. At the same time, digitization offers companies completely new options for responding to this need with smart solutions and for organizing work in a different and more flexible way. Here is a new dynamic to watch from which employers and employees alike can benefit.
Opportunities for HR managers
For HR managers, this is the chance to support employees on their way to more self-determination and flexibility with individualized and intelligent digital offers. On the one hand, this can be achieved through the consistent digitization of one's own offers. For example, with "Digital Classrooms", which represent an alternative to organizationally complex (and cost-intensive) meetings, make time-consuming arrivals and departures superfluous and can also be used from home.
Future HR tasks will include empowering management and employees to handle complex issues through the right technology. In my observation, HR departments in the past have been very good at translating complex challenges into processes and managing them. However, as challenges become more complex, processes must not become more complex. The goal should be to solve complex problems with lean, simple processes. And I'm convinced that the key to this lean, simpler world lies in digital tools.
However, those who understand digitization to mean only more online tools and some new ways to analyze data underestimate the profound effects on the world of work. The driver here is called agility. Faster and more decentralized decisions, more transparency, more trust, mobile work, changing responsibilities - these are the challenges that every organization faces in digital transformation, but agility can not be just a motto or just a method.
Agile organizations will only exist if we succeed in establishing a new mindset among our employees. Agility needs the appropriate culture and structure in the business to function.
IT as a pioneer
In most companies IT is one of the first to consistently focus on agile ways of working. The increasing digitalization of the business model of a tourist group increases the complexity and the interdependence of processes within a company.
The IT departments are particularly challenged here. Which is why it is not surprising that one anticipates there. This gives an idea of which dimensions will be the biggest field of action for future HR work in agile organizations: attitude and the image of man.
4 Structural change tips for companies
The current market developments and the challenge of faster product development cycles continue to generate pressure for change. Companies should address this pressure in the following ways:
- Businesses should therefore set the basic values of this new way of working. Among other things, individuals and interactions should be given precedence over processes and tools. And instead of sticking to a plan stoically, it should be called to embark on change.
- Introducing an agile way of working does not mean "solving the problem" - but creating an environment in which the challenges of employees and executives can be optimally addressed in the future. Because change follows change, that's the new normal.
- In order to support cooperation and to ensure the integration of individual departments, the IT can be transformed into a matrix organization that connects the teams and employees in a cross-functional way.
- The aim of companies should also be to break up existing departmental silo thinking, to bring together experts from different areas on an ad-hoc basis and thus to make cooperation more efficient.
Uncertainty in times of change
In the operational implementation, the new structure and the new working method initially led to uncertainty and ambiguity in the roles, responsibilities and tasks of some participants, resulting in increased strain and fluctuation. The new way of working required close support and support from senior executives and HR.
The organizational form is new for executives, employees and employee representatives. Its peculiarity lies in the fact that an agile matrix organization - the New World - has been established in a classically oriented, mature group with a traditional and strong committee structure - the old world. I consider this procedure to be a sign of the new era: Instead of introducing a sophisticated, overly complex construct in an overall organization, we anticipated one area. This approach could also be called: Freedom within a Framework.
Companies have to define guardrails
In all areas, companies should pursue this approach, which is based on defining the guidelines centrally and deciding on the concrete implementation locally or regionally (or, as here in a specific department). It is true that the classical and hierarchical structures, communication and reporting structures around this "agile island" remain for the time being.
In addition, legal framework conditions that were established in the industrial age remain relevant and must be taken into account when designing such experimental rooms in the company. Employees are confronted with their needs for belonging, trusting working relationships and security, which must be completely redefined in an agile matrix organization. Developing trusting relationships takes time and experience and can not be dictated by structural change. Digitization may be revolutionary - the behavior of employees in companies will change only gradually, evolutionarily.
Conclusion: There is no way around digitization
There is no way around digitization. Automatic speech recognition systems now have a similar error rate to humans in recognizing words from a conversation. Google's translation system knows 103 different languages and translates daily over 140 billion words.
Many of the routine activities we employ today will be handled by artificial intelligence systems in the future. And yet I am deeply convinced that employees will continue to make the difference in the future - if they succeed in offering them the right environment for their work in companies.
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