The reference to "HR function" refers to anyone and anything involved in the process of developing people as a valuable asset. Apparently many (if not most) C-level executives in many (if not most) organizations still don't "get it" because, as recent and vast research by firms such as Gallup and TowersWatson clearly indicates, fewer than 30% (on average) of employees in a U.S. workplace are positively and productively engaged. As for the other more than 70%, they are either mailing it in or doing whatever they can to undermine their organization's best interests. Is it any wonder, then, that many (if not most) of these companies also have serious problems attracting and then retaining the people they need.
Fortunately, several excellent books have been recently published that can offer specific information, insights, and advice that can help C-level executives to respond effectively to these and other HR disfunctions. Jeanne Meister and Karie Willyerd co-authored The 2020 Workplace and it is one of the best. More about that book in a moment. First, however, I want to discuss, briefly a key insight that Fred Reichheld offers in his last two books. The "ultimate question" to which their title refers is "On a zero-to-ten scale, how likely is it that you would recommend us (or this product/service/brand) to a family member, friend or colleague?" As Reichheld explains, the phrasing of that question is "a shorthand wording of a more basic question, which is, [begin italics] Have we treated you right, in a manner that is worthy of your loyalty? [end italics]"
Rephrase that ultimate question and you have another of great importance: "On a zero-to-ten scale, how likely is it that you would recommend working for our company to a family member, friend or colleague?Read more ›
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
It's always been about talent- now its about getting talent in a changing worldMay 19 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Every graduate course I teach begins with an outward look at the changes in the business environment over the past 2-3 decades. It helps students understand the need for change, for responsiveness and adaptiveness, and for leadership. It also frames everything I want to say about creating sustainable effective organizations. Meister and Willyerd's book, The 2020 Workplace, reminds us that part of the changes in the world around us includes the workforce itself, and that we need to consider those changes as we attempt to adapt and adjust our businesses to the dynamics of the business environment.
The 2020 Workplace begins by setting the stage for why the future workplace is going to be different. Advances in social technologies, shifts in demographics, and a global business environment will all affect the workplace of the future. The Millennial generation is a particular focus, since it is expected to be nearly 50% of the workforce in just four years.
In Part II, Meister and Willyerd showcase HR and Learning practices companies are using now to address those shifts. Examples include Deloitte's use of a video contest to help recruiting, internal social networks for collaborative communication at Cerner, several examples of mentoring and microfeedback, and leadership development at Cisco. Part III includes 20 predictions for 2020, such as electing your own leader, and concludes with advice on how to prepare for 2020.
In addition to substantial references to existing material, the authors conducted their own study of over 2200 employees around the world, and their research is presented in an accessible and engaging manner. Their extensive interviews with the featured companies make the book highly practical, and you are sure to get some ideas for use in your own company. The "52 Stories" example from Qualcomm is one that any company could use to help new employees understand and adapt to their culture.
Finally, the glossary is particularly helpful for readers who may not know terms or web resources like crowdsourcing, tagging, and Delicious. Overall, this is a practical and helpful book for HR practitioners who want to prepare their organizations to be ready for tomorrow.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
What does the future really look like?Feb. 13 2011
K. A. Allbright
- Published on Amazon.com
Written by Jeanne C. Meister and Karie Willyerd (2010), "The 2020 Workplace" is a message about generational diversity and gaining competitive advantage through talent management and leadership. Outlining ten forces shaping the future workplace now, Meister and Willyerd (2010) suggest the future of work can be defined as an "office everywhere" where "team members live halfway around the world "(p. 15).
Rich with statistical data and analyses, the information provided bolsters Meister's and Willyerd's (2010) position. Suggesting the work climate has and will continue to change; they mention the specifics of where and how one works will no longer matter provided results are delivered. Central to their argument is that of shifting demographics resulting in a "significant number of workers over 40 comprising the work force", "more women entering and staying in the work force" and "Latinos composition is expected to double to 30% of the US population by 2050" (Meister & Willyerd, 2010, p. 16).
Meister and Willyerd (2010), initially discuss a new type of worker necessary to compete in the future suggesting a "rise in a new segment of workers requiring "tacit skills such as problem solving, judgment, listening, data analysis, relationship building, and collaborating and communication with co-workers" will be needed (p. 20); however, much of their discussion is centered on the Millennial generation. Although an outcry of the "Knowledge Economy", what begins as a conversation about a new breed of employee quickly becomes focused on the generations and the Millennials. While aspects of the ten forces speak to the youngest generation in the workplace - the Millennials - it is as if to say this is the only generation that really matters.
The strength of the book is the research conducted. Sampling working professionals from a range of industries from "admin services to education, financial services, the government, health care, high tech and telecommunications, manufacturing, professional services, and retail", the "Generations@Work - Global Survey - polled more than 2200 members of four generations currently in workforce" (Meister & Willyerd, 2010, p. 60). Key findings suggest there are very defined differences such as those of Boomers and Generation X who seek to balance work with home life; whereas, Millennials integrate work into their personal life (coined "weisure" time) (Meister & Willyerd, 2010, p. 60). While Generational surveys and studies delineate differences, many also point out similarities that exist as a part of the human condition. Meister and Willyerd (2010), suggest that at the core of all member's wishes are those to be "valued, empowered, and engaged at work" (p. 63).
Highly prescriptive the book offers advice and examples of other organizations efforts to help their employees understand generational differences (e.g. L'Oreal's "Valorize Generational Differences" which "showcases the values, myths, and paradoxes of each generation" (Meister & Willyerd, 2010, p. 65). Although Meister & Willyerd (2010), suggest "Thriving in the 2020 workplace will require organizations to understand the various need, expectations, and values of the generations" (p. 67); the lack of individualism somewhat diminishes the message. Highly impersonal the authors discuss strategies for recruiting in the context of beginning recruiting efforts in middle school and high school. Is this cause for parental concern?
Written under the auspice of the workplace in the future as a whole, more disappointing was the discussion around Generational diversity in the first few chapters but seemed to lack the inclusivity of the other generations. Although lacking in some areas, overall the book was highly informative and the sources seemed to be well documented.
The book is a great read and causes one to reflect on not only the challenges but huge technological gains that have been realized in the last thirty years. While a growing area of interest, the reader is of the opinion that social networking has validated the concept of freedom of speech. Meister's and Willyerd's (2010) research serves as a reminder that while it would seem that one can say what they want, organizations would be wise to develop Human Resource strategies and policies reflective of the knowledge economy.
"The 2020 Workplace," written by Jeanne Meister and Karie Willyerd, explores the lightning-fast changes occurring in the workplace now and over the next ten years. The book forecasts what managers, leaders, and executives need to know to ensure their business is ready for these changes. Meister and Willyerd skillfully present fascinating stories that provide examples of how people across generations and geographies are using technology, such as the social web, to get their work done. New ideas about management, collaboration, communication, and fostering creativity are presented with practical tips and tricks on how to evolve your organization to be prepared for tomorrow's talent today.
I particularly like how the book offers compelling research and data, but is not seeped in theory alone -- the authors offer suggestions and nice end-of-chapter summaries that are pragmatic and applicable to anyone in HR or management.
Recommendation: Buy it and read it. You may or may not agree with all of their forecasts, but at least you will know what you are facing when recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce.
Especially a good read for HR managers, leadership and development people, and executives.
35 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Simplistic view that is more spectacle than business realityJuly 8 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
In their sophomoric piece akin to novice science fiction, Meister and Willyerd simply look at the hot topics and trends in the past three years and project them into the future. The book is flawed for several reasons, mostly due to the authors' faith that the management style they describe would actually be viable in a world where shareholders demand results and hold tightly onto purse strings and employees demand a sense of real community--not just a mere online social network.
Cherry picking for the most blatantly stupid idea, I'll cite one of their 20 predictions as a clear example of how their clairvoyance lacks depth: "The corporate curriculum will use video games." If you look at corporate curriculum today, it's dominated not by video (which one would expect since video has been dominant in culture for over a half century) but rather by PowerPoint presentations and Flash software simulations. Manuals (though often distributed online) are still prevalent. Why hasn't video taken over corporate training? Cost. It's very pricey to make quality video, so with few exceptions the only ones that are in use today are introductory trainings for a very wide audience. Now, if videos are too expensive, imagine the dollar signs with developing a video game for your division's on-boarding. It would never get past the initial proposal.
Again, flying in the face of reality, contrary to Meister and Willyerd's predictions, employees will not be able to trump shareholders' wishes for who leads them. Democracy is a great idea, but its place is in the boardroom--not the cubicles.
Finally, the authors envision a world where social networking is totally integrated into business life, with a "culture of connectivity" and the "ubiquity of mobile technology" blurring the boundaries between home and office and allowing hyperconnected employees to get their social networking fix. Again, I can't see it. Companies are already struggling to keep employee productivity at reasonable levels as employees access Facebook and YouTube with their mobile 3G and 4G networks, bypassing their employers' Internet filtering. Without some major innovation which doesn't impede on an employee's right to use their mobile device, employers are going to be hesitant to encourage employees into social networks which--although promising--are their biggest threat to keeping employees on track.
In the end, it's clear that much of the appeal here is the shocking predictions that are better aligned with the current zeitgeist than with the money-centered realities of businesses. The authors would be well to reflect on the fact that social networking is still quite new and it's not known whether Facebook's meager replacement for face-to-face community will be sustainable for a decade--or if a backlash and exodus will occur before as people realize that their social needs aren't actually being met and instead people return to relying on the workplace as a primary place where those needs are met--another dynamic which would prevent the distributed workplaces predicted from becoming a wide-spread reality.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A good general overview. Recommended if you are going to read only one book about the subject.April 9 2012
Mark P. McDonald
- Published on Amazon.com
Meeting the ever-changing demands of the workplace is the focus of Jeanne Meister and Karie Willyerd's new book, the 2020 Workplace. The book provides a good overview, fact base and framework for understanding the challenges we will all face in the very near future. If you were going to read only one book about future workforce dynamics, demographics and differences, then this would be a book I recommend you read.
Workplace 2020 seeks to describe the changing nature of work and the unique environment we will all face as five generations cohabitate in the workplace. The authors support their positions and findings with a range of survey data, other studies and case examples that demonstrate that they know the subject well.
The authors define the 2020 workplace as "an organizational environment that provides an intensely personalize, social experience to attract, develop and engage employees across all generations and geographies." (Page 72) That definition is based on 10 trends that the authors believe have already reshaped the workforce.
1. Shifting workplace demographics - as more young people enter the workforce and those already there stay longer. 2. The knowledge economy - highlighting the changing nature of work toward scarce highly skilled jobs rather than lower skilled transactional work. 3. Globalization - workforces are not longer local, regional or national, they are transnational and transformative 4. The digital workplace - redefining the nature of work and the means of collaboration 5. The ubiquity of mobile technology - impacts the workforce from two perspectives. First, the office is where you are and second the availability of mobile learning. 6. A culture of connectivity - we work together and with each other much more than we labor alone 7. The participation society - people want to be involved in their work, how it is done and the meaning behind their contribution. 8. Social learning - recognizing that formal instruction not particularly well suited for building the expert skills required for trend #2. 9. Corporate social responsibility - companies that are good corporate citizens attract the best and most talented people to be their citizens. 10. Millennials in the workplace - have more experience and their experience is different which shapes unique expectations that are easy to misunderstand.
Reviewing these ten trends, my descriptions, gives you a good feel for the material and tone covered in the book. In many ways, the book offers new tools to address old tasks associated with Human Resources and workforce management. That is ok, because we need new ways of thinking, leading and managing an increasingly multi-dimensional and multi-diversity workforce.
Overall the book is helpful and valuable, primarily for professionals in the human resources, knowledge management and human capital disciplines. This book is written more for them than the general business manager or line executive. The author's do a great job setting the stage for the challenges of the 2020 workplace ranging from the various preferences of the different generations to dealing with the use of new technologies like social media. In this regard the book is very helpful.
The book has a few weaknesses. Primarily is its relative lack of specific ideas and practices that go outside of those traditionally offered in other books on similar subjects. Creating meaning, recognition, skill building and personalization are all answers others have covered before. Its not that they are wrong, but more that it is the same medicine for what is a demonstrably different environment. The two major frameworks provided: The Social Learning Ecosystem (page 159) and The 2020 Leader Model (p. 189) are helpful consulting tools but less valuable for those looking to take direct action.
Every book has a few challenges. Being aware of them helps you to focus on the strengths of this book that have already been discussed in this review. There are other books in the subject. If you are looking for a greater business/strategic treatment of the topic, then I found the Power of Pull by Seely-Brown and Hagel to be very good. If you are looking for more descriptions around Millennials and how they are different from the rest of us, then any recent book by Don Tapscott will fit that bill.
If you are looking for a comprehensive, fact based, supportive book on the future of the workforce culture, then this one fits the bill. Overall, recommended and for more than just HR as we all face a 2020 workforce now.