It was said back in 1968 during the Paris insurrection that “the real meaning of a revolution is not a change in administration but a change in man…” The humanistic value of this quote is endearing when analyzing the friction and apparent rivalry between political systems and intrinsic humanistic value of that time. Nevertheless, through the light of the twenty first century it seems that a revolution never imagined by the Paris insurgencies did in fact provide a surprising and unsuspected change in man. This change was in fact a quiet transformation that was brought about by tech kids in Washington in the seventies, a garage in California in the eighties and capped by a Harvard student in 2003 (windows, apple and facebook) that was accused of hacking the university. This technological revolution brought about by huge telecom and computing industries changed the way man conducted, worked, thought, studied and ultimately communicated with and through each other. The dilemma was simply unimaginable back then: ultimately, it wasn’t the people who changed administrations and it wasn’t administrations who changed people either, It was technology what changed both, and the case can be made that arguably for better and for worse in each instance.
The hipperconectivity of our era has proved nothing to be impossible. We experience and understand momentarily evolution whilst changes occur at an overwhelming pace. Our era is non surpassed in economic, cultural and monetary exchange but unlike the renaissance of the European 15th Century this rebirth is not marked by a heavy humanistic influence. Quite the contrary… our technological rebirth is marked by a heavy change in mindset and relational/interpersonal values that are affecting the way we relate as individuals. Every communication outlet highlights the status and changes in communication, relationships, marriage, work, friendships and ultimately parenthood and education as unseen or unequalled in any time in history before. In the legal field for example, a profession where a historic sense of formality and respect regarding the practice of law subsists, there is a drastic clash in the casual manner in which students and young attorneys go about. It is evident that attorneys who graduated before BBM, whatsapp, facebook or other connectivity apps may have a distinct way of speaking and referring to peers, judges, and clients than those who graduated maybe even 5 years before. Certainly having the Judge on facebook and surpassing a certain intimacy barrier has changed the way we go about business and casually refer to each other.
As labor and employment attorneys this outward change in man brings about a necessary change in our field due to the fact that is indeed man and the labor/productive relation thereof that is the main concern of our business. Outside courtrooms, litigation, subpoenas and law suits, in the core of our business lies simply “the human resource”. For over two decades we have successfully started and terminated countless individual and collective relationships, we have seen success and failure both for people and for companies. We have had a front row seat to the human behavior in the workplace and have sometimes played the role of psychologists, behaviorists, magicians and of course attorneys to be able to guarantee success for our clients and their human resources.
We maintain that productive, legal and win-win relationships for people and for companies are and should be the norm but also maintain that this technological revolution has in fact brought about the deepest transformation in the core of our humanity which is, as I said before, the core of our business as attorneys.
Today, in the legal field we have to be more careful than ever in how we recruit, train and ultimately trust our companies to the best available human resources. The loyalty trait has become even more rare as relationships have shortened and entitlement has grown. Ultimately as business owners and consultants we need to be more conscious than ever that the behavioral playing field has far surpassed anything we imagined even 10 years ago. Today as we grow closer together technologically, it can be argued that we actually grow apart and this change impacts the way we behave and produce in the workplace. With companies growing internationally and breaking language, cultural and idiosyncratic barriers it is imperative that corporate legal prevention and best practices in labor issues begin from day 1. In Mexico for instance, it is not only significant to understand labor law as a contract between two individuals but also to have a working knowledge of unions and collective life along with social security costs, severance packages and minimal labor rights. As our future generations refer casually to their elders, feel entitled to worldwide recognition and shorter working hours, it is far more important than ever to prepare, and ultimately to be human in regards with our human resources.
All and all, there is still one principle that we find immutable or irrevocable: no matter how many changes occur in behavioral sciences and human expectations, success in labor relations relies in prevention upon hiring employees, a sound HR management and most importantly, tact and compliance upon termination.