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How lack of flexibility can harm productivity with the changing workforce

Published: August 28, 2018

A traditional view of HR emphases discipline and uniformity, but despite its former effectiveness this model is ripe for change. The reasons for this are of practical nature – the model is poorly suited for the mental makeup of the contemporary workers and its stubborn application can seriously damage company output. Instead of insisting on obsolete formulas for workplace control, employers need to evolve with the times and adopt a more flexible attitude in many aspects of workforce management.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Successful companies tend to become conservative, while experienced managers can be slow to adopt methodologies that only recently emerged. Some of the areas where rigid adherence to old models can be most harmful include:

 

Free exchange of ideas

In a changing market where ideas can be worth more than solid gold, it’s crucial to establish an atmosphere where workers of all generations participate in a meaningful, ongoing dialog. In this way, companies can develop new products, introduce bold sales or marketing strategies, or simply examine some lines of thought that might become feasible in the future. Refusing to open a wide-ranging discussion within the company could prove to be a big mistake in the long run.

 

New technological tools

While most Australian companies have adopted computers and software tools long ago, there is a modicum of resistance towards newer gadgets like smart watches or cloud-based apps, to name just a few examples. Naturally, younger employees are more inclined to integrate unorthodox tools into their work routine, potentially raising a few eyebrows around the office. Objective analysis is called for on the part of the management, so that innovations that work in practice are adopted at an early stage.

 

Internal collaboration

Teamwork can suffer if the team is divided according to generational lines, preventing transfer of knowledge and making management of current projects more difficult. Different communication habits may complicate the situation further, as young employees might prefer to talk through a mobile chat app while middle aged workers still rely on phone conversations and power point presentations. Team leaders have the responsibility to define clear communication standards and mediate in disputes.

 

Digital branding

Online communication platforms offer a possibility for a wide array of marketing activities, but opinions about the best course for such an effort might vary. Some companies are well suited to assume laid-back, user-friendly identity that characterizes communication style on social networks. On the other hand, traditionally minded organizations (i.e. banks, industrial manufacturers…) could have some reservations in this regard. This split sometimes affects how well new workers can adopt to the organization and its key objectives.

 

Reporting and evaluation

Measuring and evaluating contributions of younger employees can also be a source of consternation, particularly when they are hired to fill newly created positions. It is rarely possible to summarize innovative job descriptions with old tools for performance measurement, while some workers may become resentful if they are forced to use inadequate reporting mechanisms. That’s why companies should make sure their HR departments are evolving in step with the rest of the firm.

 

Access to specialists

Some of the most sought-after talents refuse to work full time and may demand specific conditions to participate in projects. For example, programmers and creative professionals currently have no trouble finding work in Australia or internationally, so they may be picky when it comes to choosing employers. Companies that have too strict hiring policies have to pay a premium to attract workers that fit this profile. It goes without saying that continued access to top experts is critical for sustained productivity and should be prioritized over corporate dogma.

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