>Human capital is one of the most important and overlooked aspects of enterprise architecture.
With all the business process acumen and sleek IT, we can get nothing truly accomplished without the innovation, dedication, finesse, and talent of people!
Unfortunately, people are often poorly understood and mishandled in the workplace and the results can be disastrous for our enterprises and nations.
Japan is a good example of a country where these effects are pronounced.
The Wall Street Journal, 1-2 November 2008 reports on “Slacker Nation? Young Japanese Shun Promotions.”
Generally, one would think that people want to advance themselves professionally and be productive human beings in general. This is sort of a cornerstone of capitalism.
Yet, in Japan now-a-days, “in a country once proud of its success-driven ‘salarymen,’ managers are grappling with a new phenomenon: Many young workers are shunning choice promotions—even forgoing raises—in favor of humdrum jobs with minimal responsibilities.”
Here’s an example:
“the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, a destination for the city’s elite, says only 14% of eligible employees took higher level exams for management positions in 2007—down from 40% three decades ago.”
So enterprises are not understanding generation Y and what they are looking for in the workplace.
Things have gotten so bad that a labor relations lawyer advises companies not to “shock” workers with promotions, but rather to “first see if they’re ready.”
“Employment experts have begun to call these workers hodo-hodo zoku, or the ‘so-so folks.’ They say these workers, mostly in their 20s and early 30s are sapping Japan’s international competitiveness.”
One labor consultant says “They’ll ruin Japan with their lax work ethic.”
Yet although gen Yers are at the center of this trend, apparently this goes beyond being just a generational issue:
“A study this year…found just 3% of Japanese workers says they’re putting their full effort into their jobs.”
So what are organizations missing in understanding and in handling their human capital?
First, organizations need to listen to what people’s needs are and work to satisfy them.
Instead of seeking legal counsel to see “whether they can fire employees who refuse promotions,” they need to make the work and conditions of employment palatable to today’s workforce.
For example, one “24-year old agent at a staffing company recently got promoted to help manage a small group of employees. The new job means a higher salary and a better title. But he isn’t happy about it. Now he often works past 10 p.m. leaving him less time with his girlfriend.”
People are human and need work-life balance. A 24 year old with a relationship doesn’t want to work until 10:00 every night. That’s really hard to understand isn’t it? (sarcasm here)
Here’s another reason:
Japan has suffered “economic woes during the long slump in the 1990s and early 2000s…young workers saw older generations throw themselves into their work, only to face job and pay cuts as companies restructured. Now young people are cautious about giving too much of themselves—even if it mean less money or prestige.”
A 2nd Aha—not really:
If people are not rewarded for their hard work and dedication they are not motivated to perform. Companies that used to provide lifetime employment and/or substantial salary raises for managerial positions, no longer are providing these.
To me, the big Aha’s here are not the cause-effect reactions of workers to organizations that do not reward their efforts, promote work-life balance, or demonstrate commitment to match the dedication of their people, but rather the surprise is that enterprises are continue to overlook their most valuable asset in their enterprise architecture—which is of course, their people!
Enterprise architects need to work with their Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCOs)/HR divisions to better understand and address the needs of the workforce so that the organization can recruit, hire and retain a stable and talented workforce. This will support the business now and into the future.
The enterprise architects’ unique role in this area is to
–capture information (profiles/models/inventories regarding human capital) and trends—point out gaps or other issues between current and future capabilities
–align investment decisions to business requirements—in this case, investments in human capital
If we don’t address the human capital perspective of the architecture, no business or technology plans can succeed.