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Human resources are the vast resource of people in the external environment from which an organization obtains its employees. People are perhaps an organizationís most precious internal resource because they are the organizationís lifeblood. They provide the knowledge, skills, and drive that create, maintain, and advance organizations. To be successful an organization must attract and keep the individuals, it needs to achieve its objectives and to thrive.

According to researchers of the US labor force, three recently emerged trends concerning human resources pose major challenges for management:

A More Diverse Work Force. In the US workplace in times past, the vast majority of employees were white males. However, the workplace is changing. Women will constitute about two thirds of all new employees; about 58 per cent of new employees will be black, Hispanic, or Asian.

This changing face of Americaís work force presents management with an important challenge: how to manage effectively a workplace richly diverse in race, ethnic background, and gender. People from widely different cultures and backgrounds bring different values, benefits, preferences, and norms of behavior to the workplace. These substantial differences breed conflict among employees and managers unless they work to understand, appreciate, and accommodate these differences. One example: An Intel Corporation, a conflict arose between American and Israeli employees at corporate headquarters. The American employees were frustrated by the Israeliís seemingly endless questions and objections. Tension developed between the two groups, which disrupted work. However, the conflict ended when the Americans realized that the Israelis viewed disagreements as a natural, even fun part of work. Common understanding resolved the problem.

A Growing Number of Undereducated Employees. An increasing number of young and future employees lack the basic knowledge and skills needed to maintain productive jobs. Some statistics provide evidence of this problem: about 1 million US high school students drop out each year; the dropout rate is about 50 per cent in the inner cities.

This continuing trend of undereducated employees makes establishing and maintaining a qualified work force a real management challenge. This challenge is critical, given that US businesses are competing internationally against companies in countries such as Japan and Korea, where employees are highly educated. US businesses are responding in two ways: investing more funds in employee training programs and forming alliances with US public education systems to boost the quality of education.

An Aging Population: today, over 49 per cent of the population is under age 35. In sum, there will be fewer younger employees to replace the older employees who retire. These changing demographics present management with two challenges: to find ways to keep older, experienced employees in the work force, and to retain older workers such as those who enter an organization to start a second career. To date, retention strategies have included allowing older employees to work fewer hours and redesigning jobs to accommodate them.

Managers must be sensitive to fundamental changes in the nature and composition of the labor force.


Date: 2015-01-12; view: 1395

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