The Employment Challenge in the Digital Era

Capgemini and MIT (2013) research shows that organizations need new operating models to meet the demands of a digital-driven era. Digital tools have provided leaders with ways to connect at an unprec- edented scale. Digital technology has allowed companies to invade other spaces previously protected by a business’s “asset specificities” (Tushman & Anderson, 1997), which are defined as advantages enjoyed by companies because of their location, product access, and delivery capabilities. Digital technologies allow those specificities to be neutralized and thus, change the previous competitive balances among market players. Furthermore, digital technology acceler- ates this process, meaning that changes in market share occur very quickly. The research offers five key indicators that support successful digital transformation in a firm:

1. A company’s strategic vision is only as effective as the people behind it. Thus, winning the minds of all levels of the organi- zation is required.

2. To become digital is to be digital. Companies must have a “one-team culture” and raise their employees’ digital IQ.

3. A company must address the scarcity of talented resources and look more to using Gen Y individuals because they have a more natural adaptation to take on the challenges of digital transformation.

4. Resistant managers are impediments to progress and can actually stop digital transformation.

5. Digital leadership starts at the top.

As stated in Chapter 10, Eisenhardt and Bourgeouis (1988) first defined dynamic changing markets as being “high-velocity.” Their research shows that high-velocity conditions existed in the technol- ogy industry during the early 1980s in Silicon Valley, in the United States. They found that competitive advantage was highly dependent on the quality of people that worked at those firms. Specifically, they concluded that workers who were capable of dealing with change and less subjected to a centralized totalitarian management structure out- performed those that had more traditional hierarchical organizational structures. While “high-velocity” during the 1980s was unusual, dig- ital disruption in the twenty-first century has made it a market norm.

The combination of evolving digital business drivers with acceler- ated and changing customer demands has created a business revolution that best defines the imperative of the strategic integration component of ROD. The changing and accelerated way businesses deal with their customers and vendors requires a new strategic integration to become a reality, rather than remain a concept without action. Most experts see digital technology as the mechanism that will require business realignment to create new customer experiences. The driving force behind this realignment emanates from digital technologies, which serve as the principle accelerator of the change in transactions across all business units. The general need to optimize human resources forces organizations to rethink and to realign business processes, in order to gain access to new business markets, which are weakening the existing “asset specificities” of the once dominant market leaders.

Gen Y Population Attributes

Gen Y or digital natives are those people who are accustomed to the attributes of living in a digital world and are 18–35 years old. Gen Y employees are more comfortable with accelerated life changes, par- ticularly change brought on by new technologies. Such individuals, according to a number of commercial and academic research studies (Johnson Controls, 2010; Capgemini, 2013; Cisco, 2012; Saxena & Jain, 2012), have attributes and expectations in the workplace that support environments that are flexible, offer mobility, and provide collaborative and unconventional relationships. Specifically, millen- nial workers

· want access to dedicated team spaces where they can have emotional engagements in a socialized atmosphere;

· require their own space; that is, are not supportive of a “hotel- ing” existence where they do not have a permanent office or workspace;

· need a flexible life/work balance;

· prefer a workplace that supports formal and informal collab-

orative engagement.

Research has further confirmed that 79% of Gen Y workers pre- fer mobile jobs, 40% want to drive to work, and female millennials need more flexibility at work than their male counterparts. As a result of this data, businesses will need to compete to recruit and develop skilled Gen Y workers who now represent 25% of the workforce. In India, while Gen Y represents more than 50% of the working popula- tion, the required talent needed by businesses is extremely scarce.

Advantages of Employing Millennials to Support Digital Transformation

As stated, Gen Y adults appear to have many identities and capabilities that fit well in a digital-driven business world. Indeed, Gen Y peo- ple are consumers, colleagues, employees, managers, and innovators (Johnson Controls, 2010). They possess attributes that align with the requirements to be an entrepreneur, a person with technology savvy and creativity, someone who works well in a mobile environment, and is non-conformant enough to drive change in an organization. Thus,

the presence of Gen Y personnel can help organizations to restrat- egize their competitive position and to retain key talent (Saxena & Jain, 2012). Furthermore, Gen Y brings a more impressive array of academic credentials than their predecessors.

Most important is Gen Y’s ability to deal better with market change—which inevitably affects organizational change. That is, the digital world market will constantly require changes in organizational structure to accommodate its consumer needs. A major reason for Gen Y’s willingness to change is its natural alignment with a company’s customers. Swadzba (2010) posits that we are approaching the end of what he called the “work era” and moving into a new age based on consumption. Millennials are more apt to see the value of their jobs from their own consumption needs. Thus, they see employment as an act of consumption (Jonas &Kortenius, 2014). Gen Y employees therefore allow employers to acquire the necessary talent that can lead to better consumer reputation, reduced turnover of resources and, ulti- mately, increased customer satisfaction (Bakanauskiené et al., 2011). Yet another advantage of Gen Y employees is their ability to transform organizations that operate on a departmental basis into one that is based more on function; an essential requirement in a digital economy.

Integration of Gen Y with Baby Boomers and Gen X

The prediction is that 76 million baby boomers (born 1946–1964) and Gen X workers (born 1965–1984) will be retiring over the next 15 years. The question for many corporate talent executives is how to manage the transition in a major multigenerational workforce. Baby boomers alone still inhabit the most powerful leadership positions in the world. Currently, the average age of CEOs is 56, and 65% of all corporate leaders are baby boomers. Essentially, corporations need to produce career paths that will be attractive to millennials. Thus, the older generation needs to

· Acknowledge some of their preconceived perceptions of cur- rent work ethics that are simply not relevant in today’s com- plex environments.

· Allow Gen Y to escalate in ranks to satisfy their ambitions and sense of entitlement.

· Implement more flexible work schedules, offer telecommut- ing, and develop a stronger focus on social responsibility.

· Support more advanced uses of technology, especially those used by Gen Yers in their personal lives.

· Employ more mentors to help Gen Y employees to better understand the reasons for existing constraints in the organi- zations where they work.

· Provide more complex employee orientations, more timely personnel reviews, and in general more frequent feedback needed by Gen Y individuals.

· Establish programs that improve the verbal communications skills of Gen Y workers that are typically more comfortable with nonverbal text-based methods of communication.

· Implement more continual learning and rotational programs that support a vertical growth path for younger employees.

In summary, it is up to the baby boomer and Gen X leaders to modify their styles of management to fit the needs of their younger Gen Y employees. The challenge to accomplish this objective is com- plicated, given the wide variances on how these three generations think, plan, take risks, and most important, learn.

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