Given the demographic data we’re facing, our labor force isn’t growing, it’s comprised of people from several generations, and it’s aging. The only age group “bubble” that’s growing is those employees aged 45 and over. That means, in 10-20 years from now, we’ll have more employees retiring from than entering the workforce.
So, what do we do? Who’s going to help us continue to produce our core products and services in the future?
We’ve got to look at those Generation X and Generation Y workers who will still be in the workforce and hopefully working with us. However, we’ve all heard stereotyped, horror stories about the Gen X and Gen Y workers; they don’t want to work, they aren’t loyal to employers, they demand excessive time away from work to be with family, and they want everything now.
Given the reality that this is who our work force will be in the near future, their beliefs and need for work/life balance are a reality. Therefore, they need to be our reality as well. This is no longer our father’s workworld. The days of having employees grateful for a job and loyal to one company for 25 or more years are ending – if not already over. Those of us who are from Gen X, were the first generation to grow up as latch-key kids and many who did, didn’t like it. These latch-key kids didn’t like coming home from school to an empty house. Therefore, as parents now, many from Gen X are demanding – yes demanding -- more time with their families. They’re willing to work hard, but they are not willing to make work their priority. Work is a part of their life; their families are their priority.
The Gen Y’s (those young adults born around 1980 and after) are incredibly comfortable with technology. Most Gen Y’s had computers as toddlers and have no fear of deleting their hard drive as they experiment with new software. They’re terribly “techno-savvy” and creative. The Gen Y’s are the children of the older Gen X’ers, so they’re used to having time with family. They’ve seen their parents participate in flextime, telecommuting, and working from home. They’ve been able to express their opinions on just about every subject under the sun via internet chat rooms, pagers, and cell phones. They don’t do well when they aren’t allowed to participate in decision-making. They are used to and expect a lot of communication. Because they’re used to instant messaging, they expect instant feedback.
So as you look to the future, what are you putting in place to support your employees of the future? Will you have the processes and procedures in place they need and expect?
Processes they’ll expect include consistent communication (meetings, intra-nets, chat-rooms, interactive training/mentoring), and a work/life balance culture. Programs to support the aging part of the labor pool are a reality now in many organizations. Will they be in yours? If you don’t have at least regular meetings with your employees, it’s time to start them now. Because if you don’t, you may have a hard time recruiting good talent in the future. Connect with your employees. If you do, they’ll help you and your organization not only survive, but thrive in the future.
Copyright MMII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!