Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Can HR Thrive in “Generation Flux”


In Robert Safian’s words, “Generation Flux" is a term he coined several months ago, in a Fast Company cover story that explained "how the velocity of change in our economy has made chaos the defining feature of modern business.” He mentions examples of Apple, Facebook, and Amazon as fast risers and Research in Motion, Blockbuster, and MySpace and rapid fallers. He goes on to say that “accepted models for success are proving vulnerable, and pressure is building on giants like GE and Nokia, as their historic advantages of scale and efficiency run up against the benefits of agility and quick course corrections. Meanwhile, the bonds between employer and employee, and between brands and their customers, are more tenuous than ever.”

In a more recent article from Fast Company entitled  How To Lead In a Time of Chaos, Safian describes “Fluxers” as people who thrive best in these rapidly changing environments. He says it is “a psychographic, not a demographic--you can be any age and be GenFlux. Their characteristics are clear: an embrace of adaptability and flexibility; an openness to learning from anywhere; decisiveness tempered by the knowledge that business life today can shift radically every three months or so.”

Yet most of HR’s structures and processes support predictability, consistency; everything and everyone the same. In traditional human resources we are concerned about the legal and regulatory implications of everything from calling the Christmas Party the Holiday Party to worrying that job descriptions are written for every single position. How do you have a job description for a true GenFlux position? Do we understand that employees won't stand for traditional models in the future? And that traditional models won't support the company mission any more?

Will HR be able to change as rapidly as the world is changing around them, or will HR be this generation's elevator operator (that guy in the 1900’s that became irrelevant when changes in technology made it so anybody could operate an elevator)?

What are your thoughts? How will HR change to support this new employee economy?

One final quote from that same Fast Company article to leave you with:

  • “We’re in a new era, and that better get you excited. Being scared by change doesn't help” says Troy Carter, CEO of Atom Factory 

May the Change Be With You.