Workforce Shifts During The Past Hundred Years And Implications For Today’s HR Manager

Assignment Instructions

Society has evolved over the last century causing organizations to change with the times.  This evolution has, in turn, required workers to “re-tool” to be a productive and indispensable member of the workforce.  Using this lead-in as the context, write a 1500 word paper in which you describe the workforce shifts in types of jobs during the past hundred years. Also, answer the over-arching question, “What implications have these workforce shifts created for today’s HR manager?”

SAMPLE ANSWER

Human Resource Management

Just a century ago, very few people could predict the impact of technological changes on the culture of the workplace and the nature of work. People could not even imagine of the rise of countries such as Japan, Brazil, and China. Leaders of many organizations in the early 1900s would not have believed that India would one time be ranked as one of the best performing countries in the world in terms of its Gross Domestic Product. In 100 years ago, nobody could even predict that more than half of the world’s population would communicate using a mobile phone instead of visiting their places of work physically (Florida, 2012). According to Florida (2012), human resource managers must accept that there has been tremendous workforce shifts in the types of jobs during the past hundred years. For this reason, human resource managers and modern workers must change their strategies to meet the requirements of the current workforce. This paper analyzes the workforce shifts in the types of jobs that have occurred in the world over the past 100 years. The paper also describes the implications of these workforce shifts on today’s organizations and what human resource managers should do to address these shifts.

The generation that existed in 1900s was referred to as the Veterans. All those who existed between 1945 and mid 1960s were known as the Boomers while those who were born in the 1980s were referred to as the Gen Xers. Those born later than 1980s were known as either the Gen Yers or the Nexters. These generations had a life-span of approximately 35 years. The life-span of the current generation is much longer than that of generation that existed 100 years ago. Business leaders need to understand the nature of impact that the current generation has on the general performance of their organizations before they can devise new management strategies (Florida, 2012).

In early 1900s, radios were used as the main mode of communication, telephones were used in homes where one could be shared in the whole neighborhood, and many people communicated through written letters. Offices were dominated by typewriters and there were no photocopying machines to make copies of papers. Most jobs during these times were done by men and staffs of many organizations were male-dominated. The traditional workforce comprised of very few women, if any, and these women were only single women. People worked in order to get small amounts of income that could keep them going. Nobody thought about the relevance of saving and the people really did not care even if they grew poor (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2015).

Great shifts in the workforce and the types of jobs began during the Second World War. During World War II, men left their jobs and joined their colleagues in war fighting. As a result, many organizations were dominated by women. Women realized that they could not perform similar tasks as those performed by men because they had to create a balance between their domestic chores and responsibilities at work. It is during this time that women began to learn how to multi-task. Following World War II, several changes began to take place in organizations. Many companies could now use the computer to carry out important tasks in their offices (Alnaqbi, 2011).

Technology began to blossom between 1945 and 1960s during the time of the Boomers. Technology enabled organizations to do more than they used to do before, and people had more time for leisure than before. Education became part of the landscape, a move that did not exist in the early 1900s when academic chances were left for the rich. In the 1960s, workers were more skilled than those of the 1900s (Florida, 2012). Even though many people had began to use the mobile phone as their main means of communication in 1970s, leaders of many companies still exchanged information with their employees through written letters. Electric typewriters were invented and this made life much easier as companies could make as many copies as they wanted. From, 1980s, additional shifts began to take place in the workforce. New systems were now available to check company policies, manage employee benefits, and store company information (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2015).

Over the past 100 years, there have been tremendous shifts in the workforce and types of jobs from the Agrarian revolution through to Industrial Revolution in the 20th Century, to the current Creative Generation (Florida, 2012). In 1900s, more than 60 percent of the workforce was employed. This number continued to decline with only 48 percent of the workforce being employed in 1950s. Currently, less than 15 percent of the workforce is employed with a majority of the population remaining as self-employed. 100 years down the line, only 2 percent of the population now holds Agrarian jobs. Currently, roughly 30 percent of all jobs are technical and professional jobs that require high levels of knowledge and creativity. Every country must create room for the new image of the economy to flourish. Every nation must build institutions that will train workers in order to prepare them for the challenges that they are yet to meet in the Creative Age. Additionally, human resource managers must be prepared to build strong workforce that can meet the demands of the current generation of workers (Alnaqbi, 2011).

There is reduced cultural homogeneity in the workforce across several nations globally due to substantial movement of populations. This is different from what was observed in the workplace 100 years ago. In addition, national and ethnic diversity accompanied by an increase in the number of women joining the workforce is common in the current generation. This has made modern companies to perform better than organizations that existed 100 years ago because men and women in the workplace can share ideas about various issues. Traditionally, there were only full-time workers with majority of them being semi-skilled. The current workforce however consists of full-time, part time and contract employees who are highly skilled. The variation in skill level of traditional and current employees contributes to the difference in the quality of work done a century ago and that performed currently (Florida, 2012).

Organizations must now upgrade their practices accordingly. Companies must build partnerships with governments and academic institutions with the main objective of ensuring that potential employees possess the necessary skills that will prepare them for the present and for the future. Human resource managers must begin to think differently and even recognize that the current workforce cannot work for prolonged hours like that of 100 years ago. Specifically, the nature of work as well as that of the worker has undergone tremendous shifts over the past 100 years. These changes offer great challenges to today’s companies and human resource managers (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2015).

Human resource managers must adapt to the rapidly changing worker profile. With an increasing number of women entering the workforce, human resource managers must be prepared to accommodate a new breed of workers (Florida, 2012). The fact that there is an extended lifespan among employees, benefits and pensions will no longer be adequate bearing in mind that modern companies now have higher percentages of ageing populations than organizations that existed 100 years ago. Human resource managers must now establish more targeted incentive structures to take care of the ageing population. Additionally, human resource managers of modern companies must initiate proper plans to train all employees, especially on new technological advancements, in order to help them maintain confidence at work when in the midst of their young colleagues (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2015).

The worker qualifications considered by organizations 100 years ago differ from those that are needed by companies today. Human resource mangers find it difficult to properly assess qualifications of applicants. As modern businesses prepare to hire beyond borders, human resource managers must be able to scrutinize job qualifications of applicants in order to determine whether they meet modern organizational requirements. In addition, human resource managers should be able to understand applicants’ skills and qualifications to ensure that they hire employees who are capable of performing the required functions. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit (2015), modern companies need to form partnerships with academic institutions that offer-vocational and technical skills training in order to keep their employees informed of the requirements of the current workforce.

Modern companies are interested in going global and the current nature of work requires application of more advanced technology than that applied 100 years ago (Florida, 2012). Currently, the use of mobile phones, the web, and e-mails has reduced the gap between managers and their employees. These new developments have saved individual workers some movement and relocation costs. The increasing role of technology in today’s job market requires companies to formulate new innovative strategies that can enable them accommodate the presently mobile workforce. These strategies must be better than those use by companied 100 years ago, and must be able to keep today’s workforce connected to the companies they serve (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2015).

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