di Fortunato Costantino


L’ Autore partendo dalla rinnovata visione dei paradigmi organizzativi e del lavoro  indotta dalla Industria 4.0 e 5.0, affronta una riflessione su come la sfida per la competitività delle imprese passi inevitabilmente attraverso l’adozione di strategie che sappiano coniugare flessibilità organizzativa e agilità delle competenze con un approccio circolare e totalitazzante alla sostenibilità, oltre il perimetro della rilevanza del concetto in termini di responsabilità ambientale, e con una particolare attenzione ai modelli di sostenibilità sociale, grazie al quale poter superare anche la contrapposizione tra flessibilità e precarietà.


The Author starting from the renewed vision of the organizational and labor paradigms induced by Industry 4.0 and Industry 5.0, addresses a reflection on how the challenge for the competitiveness of enterprises inevitably passes through the adoption of strategies that combine organizational flexibility and agile and soft skills with a circular and all-embracing approach to the sustainability, beyond the perimeter of the mere relevance of the concept in terms of environmental responsibility and/or compliance, and with a special attention to the social aspect of the sustainability, thanks to which it is possible to overcome also the opposition between flexibility and precariousness.

The challenge of competitiveness today is played out in an extremely fluid economic social and political environment.

The “Dealing with ambiguity” is the no longer contestable perspective of the Industry 4.0 and the Industry 5.0 and imposes a widespread condition of flexibility understood as the readiness of dynamic and transilient company strategies aimed at following the Market in its alternations of expansion and contraction and at rethinking of the business models under the pressure of extremely changing geopolitical scenarios and the increasing influence into the corporate governance determined by legislative and regulatory policies at the national and EU level .

This gives rise to some obliged ways forward for corporate organizations that must be carefully considered with a view to meet objectives of competitiveness and business-as-usual continuity:

  • The adoption of increasingly flexible organizational models that are able to maintain the attractiveness of local productions and quickly cope with increases and decreases in demand.
  • The foundation of governance models that are attentive to the multiple instances of compliance arising from laws and regulations and the proper consideration of the interests of all Stakeholders involved by the business activity.
  • The adoption of a flexible skills&competences model that goes beyond the so-called 4.0 skills (i.e., those that ensure technological skills and digital dexterity which is the ability to assess, use, share digital content, tools and strategies). A 5.0 skills&competences model aimed at generating cross-functional skills of the employees, as well as agility, adaptive ability and scenarios prediction, and, as stated in the EU Commission’s paper “Industry 5.0”, enabling the “development of  a sustainable, human centric and resilient European industry” capable of increasing productivity and efficiency whilst paying adequate attention to the role of workers within the transition to more sustainable development models, socially and environmentally.
  • The adoption of new models and strategies of corporate training aimed at creating a new condition of employability of the workers in the sense of making them ready to cope  the complex challenges involving either the company they works for and more generally the global market to which them could better fit as a consequence of  their enhanced employability.
  • The creation of a socially sustainable work organization in which welfare and well-being strategies represent essential areas for the development of new forms of rewarding that go beyond the traditional and stale logic of purely monetary pay increases. The offer of “quality of life” is the new form of remuneration that, together with salaries in line with the relevant benchmark (and net of flexible choices of salary positioning for particular strategic clusters of employees), will represent the real boost of the company’s ability to attract talent or professionals capable of creating added value for the company.

In this context, rethinking, with a view to the sustainability, the traditional paradigms of the work oranisation and the employment relationship itself, may allow the overcoming of the conceptual opposition between flexibility and job insecurity and makes possible to distinguish more properly between sustainable organizational flexibility and bad flexibility. Provided, however, that we stop thinking that these are concepts that can be immediately or exclusively subsumed in legal norms or rulings.

Sustainability, once crossed the boundaries still too centered on an exclusively ecological meaning, and applied to the labor system, implies that the labor laws must be read with a focal lens fixed on the specific eco-system that each company constitutes because of their peculiar socio-economic characteristics and a series of unique needs, for the satisfaction of which any consistent solutions should be, on their turn, unique and customized as well and not replicable in other business realities. In fact, every company is a unique constantly evolving ecosystem, necessarily impacting the territory in which it operates, with conditioning effects on the lives of the employees and people involved.

Now, even if the possibility of designing flexible organizational models nowadays is readily offered by the labor law system, mostly considering the many delegations of power gave to second-level bargaining, that is not enough. A new industrial relations model is required, based: i) on a specific training to the worker unions aimed to introduce them to principles and purposes of the business and ii) subsequently on the effective skilled ability of the worker unions to understand and consistently approach together with the Employer the difficulty for a company to stay and survive in a extremely challenging market.

A model thanks to which companies can gain competitive advantages while respecting the life needs of their employees, negotiating with their unions representatives innovative agreements that can identify a combination of flexibility and protections different from the one, in a general and abstract asset, imagined by the legislator, but certainly more in keeping with the specificity of each company, and doing that, finally orienting in a sustainable way the impact of the labor organizational model from time to time imposed by the competitive scenarios.