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Managing Workforce 2000: Gaining the Diversity Advantage.

Managing Workforce 2000 is a well-organized, easy-to-read personnel handbook describing challenges and prescribing solutions for the future workforce. The text is aimed at top managers and human resource professionals and attempts to identify and change those personnel policies and practices which may not fit a divergent workforce.

The book starts with the description of the old workforce of the '50s (principally white male), which valued sameness and attempted to treat everyone alike. However, the workforce of the year 2,000 will be substantially different in six characteristics: age, gender, culture, education, disabilities and values.

In 1970, the average age of the workforce was 28. By the year 2,000 it will have increased to 40. Also, by then, 50 percent of the employees will be women and 25 percent will be minorities. The educational gap will continue to grow between the highly skilled technical workers and a labor force in which illiteracy is a growing problem. Individuals with disabilities will join the regular work force in increasing numbers and the old values of loyalty to a company and working principally for money will become increasingly less important.

Because of these societal changes, the authors promote flex-management which individualizes the policies, systems and practices of management. It employs four strategies: matching people with jobs, managing and rewarding performance, informing and involving people, and supporting lifestyle and life needs.

The authors point out that it is no mistake that organizational charts have shown jobs in boxes. "All too often people are matched on the right objective criteria --education and previous experience, but not on the right subjective criteria-preferences, interests and values." We must do a better job in matching personal characteristics of individuals, such as attention to detail or the need for structure, to the jobs at hand.

Secondly, we must manage employees and reward performances on an individualized basis. The key is to train managers and employees to value diversity. By learning to manage individuals rather than managing groups, it is possible to play into an individual's strengths rather than accentuating his/her weaknesses. Flexible compensation systems meeting individual needs must replace the old system of cash compensation only.

The third component deals with informing and involving people. Individuals are more productive when they feel part of a larger effort. "Participation works when people are given the power to make certain decisions, the knowledge and skills to make them effectively, and the necessary information and meaningful rewards for their effort."

The fourth strategy calls for supporting the life needs of the future workforce. Offering flexible benefits and helping employees take care of family responsibilities (from child care to elder care) will become more and more critical.

The attributes associated with today's effective manager, namely communication, being comfortable as a manager, high performance expectations, concern with employees and constant performance feedback, may not be sufficient for the future. The authors believe that because of the changing workforce, an effective manager also will have to manage as a colleague not a boss, develop others, see diversity as an asset not a problem, strive to meet the needs of the employees and communicate.

While I found the book to be stimulating, I would not recommend it as required reading for the typical finance professional. I believe the book is geared more for the private sector and perhaps even the white-collar industries of the private sector. Many of the recommended strategies would be extremely difficult to implement in many public agencies due to rigid civil service or union systems plus the inflexibility which often comes with public-sector positions.

Despite these limitations, there is an abundance of thought-provoking and insightful material. While not required reading for most finance professionals, I would consider it as required for any personnel manager. However, for those finance officers with a few minutes to spare, spend a little time on this book, you won't be sorry.

Managing Workforce 2000: Gaining the Diversity Advantage is available for $27.95 from Jossey-Bass Inc., 350 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA 94104 (415/433-1767).
COPYRIGHT 1992 Government Finance Officers Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Turner, James
Publication:Government Finance Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1992
Words:669
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