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Generations in the Workplace
Currently, employees in several enterprises fall into three categories of generations. These generations include the boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. This scenario requires effective management of multigenerational workforces so as to facilitate the achievement of strategic goals. Every age group has unique characteristics, and as such, an enterprise’s management needs to incorporate the views and capabilities of each group. Teamwork in decision making is an effective motivator that improves relations amongst the employees with varying characteristics (Lundy & Cowling, 1996).
The boomers are a generation of employees who were born during the period between 1946 and 1965. The boomers superseded the veterans generation, which consists of workers who were born before 1946. Although most employees of the veteran generation have retired, the strong work ethics they helped invent prevails. Most of them were ex-servicemen and women, and as such, they were venerating to seniority and rank. Furthermore, having witnessed the Great Depression and the Second World War, the veterans were practical and had little difficulty in saving resources for later use. Their key values were dedication and self-sacrifice. On their part, the boomers helped invent the 60-hour work week. They are aggressive in their engagements, and their work ethics are defined by competition. They easily turn end into a new beginning. For instance, on retiring, they optimistically focus on their private lives with a view of attaining greater achievements. Although they appear to be less respectful to seniority than the veterans, they esteem hierarchy in leadership, particularly if they are part of it. They usually set semi permanent goals and plan to achieve them through hard work. The boomers appreciate teamwork more than the veteran did during their time.
Generation X is a category of employees who were born in the period between 1965 and 1980. They are independent, entrepreneurial, and self-reliant, and as such, they loath wasting time with inessential matters. Their independence began in childhood as most of them missed close parental attention in their puerility. This was the case predominantly because both parents had to work. Furthermore, nearly half of them were brought up in broken families, a situation which demanded the single parent to work harder. A significant number of them lost their occupation during the recession of the 1980s and 90s (Armstrong, 2000). Due to these experiences, Generation X employees value alternative work programs, as these arrangements help in balancing work and family life. They are skeptical, and more importantly, they rate leadership through competence. They have little regard for rank and title, and their career path incorporates work, family, and studies. As such, their core values are respect for individuality and life balance.
Generation Y was those born in the period between 1981 and 2000. These workers are highly entrepreneurial, and a substantial number of them have had worked legitimately before their graduation from high school. They are well connected through mobile devices and the internet. These workers have better relationships with parents than the boomers and Generation Xs. Their interest for teamwork supersedes that of Generation Xs. However, their definition of teams is different from that of the boomers and Generation Xs. They demonstrate the capability to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously in a manner that respects diversity (Grobler & Warnich, 2005).
Each generation of workers has distinctive strengths, which, unfortunately, may be regarded as imperfections by members of the other generations. As such, the management should consider everyone’s views so as to tap the diversity in the groups. Additionally, an enterprise should honor individual contribution so as to encourage the employee to share their experiences with the rest of the workers. Lastly, an enterprise should endeavor at retaining older workers by showing them that they are still valuable to the enterprise.
Companies Surviving the Recession
Human Resource Management at Apple.inc
Apple.inc is a multi-national corporation that is based in America and specializes in the design and marketing of personal computers, computer software, and consumer electronics. Its hardware line includes the iPod, the Macintosh brand of computers, the iPad, and the iPhone. The company’s software includes the iTunes media browser, the Macintosh Operating System, the iLife multimedia suite, and a suite of other professional film and audio industry products. Apple has grown to become the world’s most valuable company in terms of technology, having exceeded Microsoft. As of October 2010, the company had an estimated workforce of 46,800 full time employees worldwide, who were being assisted by 3,000 part-timers. At that time, its worldwide sales were in excess of $65.23 billion.
The success of this company is attributed to its innovative human resource management. As its strategic emphasis is on devising new designs and products, the company appreciates the role of every employee as he/she contributes towards the company’s objective. The human resource management of this company has been successful since its incorporation. It has enabled it to adapt to a changing market environment through incorporation of the views of every employee. As such, Apple.inc has a corporate culture which inspires optimism in its employees as well as the management. The late founder, Steve Jobs, believed that the market challenges would only be tackled through innovation, and innovation necessitated appropriate human resource management.
The proprietors of this corporation appreciate the contribution of every generation of workers in all its divisions. For instance, while the workers in Generation Y are considered as favorites in field advertising, the corporation requires them to heed to the boomers advice. Additionally, it utilizes the entrepreneurial spirit of the Generation Xs as an inspiration to the promoters and marketers. With a worldwide presence, Apple.inc has a wide pool of experiences which enables it to remain dominant despite the turbulence in the market. The company has 4 product support sections that facilitate the handling of marketing and after sale service. The administrative departments of these divisions ensure that the generations of workers are fully integrated so as to facilitate the expansion of its market share. Apple.inc has been able to meet its consumer changing preferences through the internalization of every stakeholder’s views (Schuler & Jackson, 2007).
The management of this company has been consulting widely during its strategic planning so as to ensure proper co-ordination among various business units. The duties of human resource management include succession planning, in-house training, and active planning. Training is intense, and is combined with direct ‘hands-on’ work, role-plays, and observational learning (modeling). Employees are selected based on their enthusiasm, motivation, and desire to succeed. Moreover, the company ensures that it retains enough boomers and the Generation X workers so as to act as information bank for the rest of the stakeholders. These strategies have enabled Apple.inc to experience continuous growth despite the downturn in the market (Jason, 2008).
Human Resource Management at Google
The leaders of Google recognize the fact that strategic human resource management facilitates the alignment of the workforce with the core business objectives. As such, they equip the company with the relevant knowledge and skills that help tap the best in the employees. Google, therefore, is a company that has successfully implemented all the important aspects of strategic human resource management, a scheme that has made it become among the most reputable corporations in the world. Through the integration of its strategic management with human resource management, the organization has leveraged its success on its workforce in a manner that relieves stress in every quota. It has, therefore, applied strategic management during the delegation of duties and responsibilities (Edelman, 2010).
Google incorporates human resource plans in its mainstream organization strategy in order to make the stakeholders appreciate the importance of workforce in achieving the entire main plan. As such, Google recognizes the fact that employees add value to its operations, especially when they are made to think and work strategically. The company devises performance incentive packages that help in motivating the employees in a manner that improve their eagerness to work in a dynamic setting. Additionally, the company arranges for the proper training programs so as to enhance the workers skills in line with the enterprise’s core business objectives. Google avoids a high employee turnover by engaging and motivating the talented employees. The human resource section terminates contracts as par the existing laws in order to minimize the chances of bring the company into disrepute. Therefore, Google has been able to survive the upheavals in the market while other companies terminate their operations. The workforce incorporates members of all generations who through teamwork, has been able to facilitate unabated growth of the company (Edelman, B. (2010).
Companies that failed during the recession
Why Borders Group, Inc. failed
Borders Group, Inc. was a multinational music and book retailer headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Shortly before its collapse, the company had employed about 19,500 people in America to work in its Waldenbooks and Borders stores. As of January 29, 2010, Borders Group, Inc was operating 511 Border stores, 508 of which were in America and 3 in Puerto Rico. Additionally, the company operated 175 Waldenbooks Specialty Retail stores that included Waldenbooks, Borders airport stores, Borders Outlet stores, and Borders Express (Spector & Tranchtenberg, 2011).
In 2008, Borders Group, Inc had lost its stores in Singapore, New Zealand, and Australia to Pacific Equity Partners. The loss was, in part, attributed to inadequate management of human resource. As problems persisted, Borders Group, Inc applied for bankruptcy protection in order to commence the liquidation of 226 of its American stores. The group struggled to find a buyer, and as the July 17 deadline approached, Borders Group began the liquidation of the remaining 400 outlets. The last of its store terminated operation on September 18, 2011 (Spector & Tranchtenberg, 2011). The failure of this company emphasized the need for coordination between workers in different generations. This is because had there been close cooperation, the group would have utilized the enthusiasm in Generation Y to advance its entrepreneurial strategy. This would have been possible under the guardianship of the boomers and Generation X.
Massive Layoffs at A. J. Wright
A. J. Wright was a retail chain of 129 stores that had been established in 1998. The company sold domestics, footwear, giftware, clothing, fragrances, and accessories at subsidized prices. Its stores used to receive shipments on every working day so as to refresh the stock levels in time. After opening its initial stores, A. J. Wright business began to boom. The company proceeded into opening new stores so as to cater for the increasing number of employees. As of 2000, the stores had increased from 6 to 25. The increase continued unabated, and by the end of 2005, the stores had increased to 152. After this period, the number began to fluctuate due to store closures, and by 2006, A. J. Wright was believed to be losing business. Recognizing the fact that the enterprise was failing, the management opted to focus on controlling the exponential growth of the chain (Boston Business Journal, 2011).
In 2006, A. J. Wright opted to close 34 stores. The decision to close was arrived at following consideration of several factors. These factors included market demographics, proximity to other stores, sales volume, and cash return. The employees of the closed stores were require to either take severance packages or agree to transfer to the operating stores. The company closed its stores with an aim of improving logistics and operations. This is because it would now focus the managerial attention and resources on the best performing stores with an aim of building a base that would facilitate successful growth. However, this did not happen. By December, 2010, TJX Corporation opted to eliminate all the A.J. Wright stores, a decision that led to about 4400 layoffs (Boston Business Journal, 2011).
Human Resource Metrics
Human resource metrics are the factors that can be measured to indicate the contributions of the workforce to the success of a business. These metrics are very important, especially because human resource has become an important part of an enterprise (Jackson et al, 2011). These metrics includes the efficiency and effectiveness of human resource functions, as well as the vital company competency. With an efficiency of functions, data are gathered to help compare the performance between the organization’s human resource and with those of other companies. Comparison is important so as to establish if the organization is in line with the contemporary practices. As such, comparing performance helps in refining strategic operations in a way that facilitates grow and sustainability.
Efficiency of human resource functions includes the reduction of cost per hire as well as the expense factor. Cost per hire is the monitory value that is associated with hiring. It is vital for a company to establish the cost of hiring as to make the effective use of resources. For an enterprise that employs about 500 people to grow at a rate of twenty percent, it must reduce its cost per hire. This reduction is possible only when the firm incorporates an effective training program. The organization should also account for the level of employees’ absenteeism. In order to guarantee success, human resource strategy should be aligned with the corporate strategy (Schuler & Jackson, 2007). Additionally, it must utilize measures that are predictable and actionable. The metrics need to be consistent so as to facilitate internal, as well as external benchmarking.