Preparing Your Workforce Today to Meet Tomorrow's Challenges
By Alisa Blum, MSW
Employees will be retiring in record rates in the next 10 years. The baby boomer generation compromises approximately 75 million people or 45% of the workforce. Many are in management positions and are preparing to retire.
The generation right behind the boomers are a much smaller group of about 45 million people Since many of the employees preparing to retire are in senior management positions, we are likely to see a dearth of employees ready to fill these positions. Added to this, a new generation has recently entered the workforce, with its own unique characteristics.
By looking at the needs of the different generations in the workplace, we can develop strategies to better prepare our workforce. The following are tips that can aid in this process:
1. Develop mentoring programs. Older workers tend to be motivated by having opportunities to pass on their knowledge. Younger workers benefit from the career development opportunities they gain as mentees and learn critical skills needed to prepare for advancement.
2. Create flexible work schedules. Many older workers either don't want to retire full time or cannot afford to retire full time. Organizations can reap the benefits of their experience by creating part-time, on-call or consultant opportunities. Younger employees that are balancing work and family needs will be more likely to want to work for your organization if they have the option to work from home or work part-time.
3. Use a strengths-based approach to promotions. Develop a career ladder where employees can be promoted on the basis of their strengths. Younger employees often want to be promoted but tend to reject the traditional career ladder. For example, a superb technician may not have the inclination to be a manager, but would make an excellent “technical advisor”.
4. Focus on your high potential employees. Pay attention to your high performers. Let them know how much they mean to your organization. Determine the qualities typically seen in your high performers, find out why they like to work for you and use this information to develop strategies for recruitment and retention.
5. Provide opportunities for ongoing education. Our technological advancements mean that employee's skills need to continually be updated. Additionally, employees are often more inclined to work for you if they have opportunities for higher education. Organizations that provide in-house educational opportunities or tuition reimbursement programs will be more likely to attract and retain their employees. Younger employees, in particular, are frequently motivated by opportunities for continued learning.
6. Encourage managers to regularly have career development discussions with their employees. Research on employee retention shows that employees are more likely to stay at if they have opportunities for career development. Managers should have periodic discussions about where the employee wants to grow in their career and how the employee's needs fit with the organization's needs.
7. Design a program to preserve the knowledge of your key employees. Evaluate the processes that are in place or need to be in place in order to preserve and pass on essential knowledge. Determine how you will preserve and pass on essential processes, procedures and practices.
In order to avoid the myriad of problems associated with the impending losses that will occur as we lose a large percentage of our experienced workforce, it will be essential for organizations to take action without delay. By working now to create new ways of working with your employees, you can prepare your workforce today to meet tomorrow's challenges.
© 2008, Alisa Blum & Associates
Alisa Blum is President of Alisa Blum & Associates, a training and consulting company specializing in helping organizations develop a motivated & productive workforce. Training programs are offered both live and via webinar. More information can be found at http://www.retentionsolutions.org/. Alisa can be reached at (503) 524-3470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, instead of thinking just of your company, consider the implications of these demographics on your church. What age group has provided the bulk of volunteers, donors and leadership for you? Where will they go after retirement? Where will they give after retirement? Who will teach Sunday school and be on the trustees?
Are you prepared for a mass exodus?
Sweeten Life Systems has a ministry of consultation to faith based groups. Let us know how we can assist you.