STRONG SUIT: The new employment paradigm
“When the paradigm shifts, everyone goes back to zero”.
This quote by Joel Barker, a futurist, is made during his timeless video The Business of Paradigms.
Paradigms are the patterns and models we use to interpret the world. Barker shows that a paradigm shift moved the centre of the watch-making world from Switzerland, who dominated the global market; to Japan and the United States with the introduction of digital watches. Ironically, this idea was developed in Switzerland but discarded as unimportant.
Today, almost every discussion about economic recovery makes reference to unemployment statistics as an indicator of economic well-being. In Barbados, the government, through the social partnership and by its own example, has sought to keep people employed.
With this “holding strain”, has come an inevitable shift in the employment paradigm. Here are some indicators:
• The recession has forced organizations to become more productive with fewer workers taking on a broader array of duties. Many of these efficiencies have been achieved through the increased use of technology.
• Though unemployment rates are still high; the number of job openings has increased by 37 per cent in the United States, even when the unemployment rate was increasing.
• As a result of the “baby boom” phenomenon, job creation consistently exceeds the growth of working age population.
• There are jobs available but workers just have to have more and newer skills than before.
• There is a growing importance of knowledge workers with advanced computer skills and the ability to translate concepts into productive actions.
• Professional accreditation and certification are increasingly being required as evidence of continuous professional development.
• The high cost of turnover has led to more outsourcing and tighter scrutiny in the hiring process.
There is an increased use of psychometric assessments and scientific job profiling to ascertain the set of competencies required to meet organizational goals and the likelihood of a job candidate to contribute.
Highly competitive organizations understand that age and stage; talent and motivation; combine with culture and environment, to shape performance.
In the past year, we have seen lay-offs in Barbados that were in many ways, predictable. There have been consolidations after mergers and acquisitions, refinements brought on by competitive market forces and collapses where organizations could no longer carry inefficient employment practices.
Let’s face it, many have “retired on the job” and are waiting to be paid out. The National Initiative for Service Excellence study clearly indicated that there were many workers who are not committed to their organizations or jobs.
My own recent experience with trying to fill a key position in my firm had all the elements of this new paradigm. What would have been an Administrative Assistant’s job now requires ability to:
• Manage multiple, diverse projects;
• Navigate between various computer programmes and find the productive interfaces;
• Administer web-based platforms and provide record-keeping that meets global standards;
• Update CRM data, keep website and social network portals current;
• Prepare reports, proposals and presentations that have relevant graphic summaries; and
• Interface with clients, colleagues and prospects using our Supreme Service approach.
The paradigm has shifted. Today, the most important skill is the ability to learn.
• Dennis Strong is founding president of Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants.