The Changing Times
Businesses have historically succeeded due to proper identification of a need or a problem and the timely ability to provide an effective solution to meet that need or solve that problem. The understanding of product, process and people have always been the three crucial elements for the success of a business. With the advent of technological development, communication, social media, quicker transportation, the world has never been so connected and information-rich.
While this overflow of information is not a challenge to handle using our technology, the people behind the technology are still the same. According to Moore’s Law, “The growth of microprocessors is exponential. The number of transistors on a microchip double about every two years, though the cost of computers is halved”. While improving the quality of life and making things easier for humans, this rapid technological development has also made things overwhelming. According to TheGlobalEconomy, India’s happiness index value has steadily declined over time.
It is very disheartening to know that we live in a generation where many people lose their lives due to suicides and unnatural disasters. These VUCA issues are more prevalent and prominent in the world in 2022 than ever before. And this calls for an imminent need for re-defining the HR strategy.
This decline in happiness may be due to multiple reasons. This era of social media and the internet has connected humans to a global level like never before. However, the technology has also contributed to several issues like the ongoing pandemic, climate change, divide of opinions, and an increase in depression & mental issues among people. Some of the recent global outcomes of such Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous phenomena are instances like the Black Life Matters movements, Chronic riots and protests, Cancel culture, intolerance, increase in suicide rates among the younger population.
Aligning HR policies with people
With the millennials moving into senior management positions and Gen-Z entering the workforce, the people’s needs and priorities have changed. The number of people motivated by conventional rewards like money has also decreased. People have begun to expect immeasurable and intangible benefits from a workplace like job satisfaction, peace of mind, work-life balance, etc. And with Gen-Z, the needs and priorities are still unclear, as they are brought up entirely in a well-connected world idolizing social media. When there is no single solution that can work with all people, organizations must be conscientious while designing the HR policies. This need poses a challenge for organizations to quickly understand the needs of the employees to sustain and retain their talent pool, keep them happy and thereby thrive in the competitive business world.
How can businesses adapt to this change?
According to Simon Sinek, the Gen-Z and the millennials workforce want to feel important in their workplaces. The demand for freedom of thought, the scope for long term learning and development, transparency and flexibility in working conditions, and less micromanagement have never been more prominent. The generation motivated by money and loyalty is coming to an end. And the newer generations have entirely different expectations altogether. While money is still a top priority, the freedom to be their authentic selves is valued more by the new generation of the workforce.
This change in expectations has resulted in the concepts like Gig economy, four days work week, freelancing etc. There is a rise in demand for transparency and inclusivity in organizations. People are being more open and vocal about being inclusive at the workplace with people from the LGBTQ+ community, people with autistic abilities, and various other forms of physical and mental challenges. There is also an increase in non-conventional jobs like stand-up comedians, social media influencers and YouTubers. The amount of engagement a consumer has with such people is also at an all-time high. Thus, businesses must adapt and align with the new workforce’s updated expectations and priorities. In addition to being a question for thriving in the business world, it has become mandatory for sustenance.
HR Strategies for thriving in the VUCA world
As Adam Grant said, “The culture of a workplace – an organization’s values, norms and practices – has a huge impact on our happiness and success.”
An HR manager should be aware, considerate and inclusive of the workforce in the organization. With the growing concerns for mental and physical wellness, the company should draft HR policies that care for an employee’s overall needs and want. Every company must instil a Chief Happiness Officer, who will primarily look after, address and act upon employee grievances. The workplace and work culture should provide a welcoming environment for employees to fearlessly speak up and trust the system. Organizations need to address the four elements of VUCA from an HR perspective by providing an individual solution to each of the four elements, namely,
- Volatility – Long-term career planning
- Uncertainty – Assurance
- Complexity – Transparency
- Ambiguity – Trust
According to Simon Sinek, “A leader is a person who can provide a feeling of safety to their followers, and thereby enabling them to bring out the best in them”.
And this feeling of safety and inclusivity is needed to bring out the most effective output from an employee in the VUCA world. Thus, organizations need to be very proactive in implementing these strategies.