Flexibility is the New Change

Here is a good article in the Harvard Business Review regarding the characteristics of 21st Century organizations, particularly in strenuous economic times. Proctor and Gamble and IBM are profiled as two organizations that still focus on human capital needs despite a bad economy. Among other strengths both of these organizations focus on flexibility as the new constant in the work environment. A dynamic workplace has a far-reaching impact through the organization:

The “super-corporations” want to be employers of choice. Their leaders prefer not to talk about insecurity but instead invoke flexibility. That semantic distinction might be scorned by the uneasily employed, but it conveys a new reality that can have positive as well as negative consequences.

Unfortunately, one area not discussed was the positive impact of diversity. The majority of successful and 21st Century businesses understand that expanding the demographics of their organization is necessary to survive, as the U.S. population changes rapidly and the global economy takes hold. For example, as the Hispanic population continues to outpace other ethnic groups in the U.S., employers are making a huge push to hire bilingual employees.

Organizations will need to tailor their programs for attracting, hiring and rewarding people to a much more diverse group of employees than ever before. Diversity is no longer defined as just race and gender but also by age (there are four generations in the workforce right now with very different generational attitudes towards work) and culture.