Archive for the ‘Workforce Trends’ Category

Effective Generational Strategies for Retaining Employees

For those businesses just about ready to hit the reset button and pick up where you left off in 2007, STOP!  This is not your grandfather’s workplace anymore.

Once upon a time, work was about getting a paycheck – a way to put food on the table and a roof over your family’s head.   Health care benefits, vacation pay, and other perks were exceptions not the rule. Sundays were a day off to rest, pray, and recoup for next week’s work.  That changed with the formation of guilds and later labor unions, when the process of representation for the workers began in the hopes of achieving fair wages and reasonable work schedules.   

But thanks to a recession and a world marketplace where dramatic change occurs in months not decades, the definition of work and what constitutes quality of life has been indelibly altered.  Welcome to Talent Management 2011!

Recruitment and retention strategies that were considered best practices and highly competitive just a few years ago are now ineffective and even detrimental. New pressures coming from aging demographics, globalization, and technology are turning workplaces upside down and inside out. In fact, it’s even hard to tell anymore who is working when and where. Many traditional workplaces of the past are gone – caput. Others have gone virtual, invisible to the passerby but very real in terms of productivity and profitability.  And for the first time in history, four generations are working side by side all but killing one-size-fits-all recruitment and retention strategies. 

All these changes – both gradual and dramatic – have converged to put many companies at risk for losing their top talent.  New and innovative talent strategies must be put in place to position companies for success.

Executives confirmed this need to change in a recent Deloitte survey and white paper titled Talent Edge 2020.  Forty-one percent of executives said “competing for talent” was a top concern, followed by developing leaders and succession planning (38%), and retaining employees at all levels (37%).  Severe talent shortages are expected over the next year in Research & Development (34%), executive leadership (25%), and sales (19%).  Even positions like customer service and marketing are expected to be tough to fill positions with severe shortages, 19 percent and 16 percent respectively, expected by executives.

The executives and senior talent managers who participated in this survey clearly recognize the importance of developing a strategy to retain key employees. Over the next twelve months, nearly seven in ten executives surveyed (68%) reported they have a high (39%) or very high (29%) level of concern about retaining critical talent.  Another six in ten (64%) have a high (40%) or very high (24%) fear of losing high-potential talent and leadership.

The problem is most of the companies surveyed, by their own admission, are not doing a very good job of holding onto key employees. Worse, many do not even have a clear understanding about what factors are driving voluntary turnover at their organizations.  With a return to some economic normalcy and the well-documented skills shortage among applicants, the need to recruit for new openings will be hard enough without having to replace the home-grown talent pipeline. 

While the white paper highlighted numerous best practices, one stood out: “Companies differentiate themselves by culture, compensation and future opportunities…and deploy different strategies to appeal to different generations.”

The executives broke down their most effective retention initiatives as follows (each generation listed by priority rank):

Veterans (over age 65)

  1. Additional bonuses or financial incentives (25%)
  2. Additional benefits (health and pensions) (24%)
  3. Flexible work arrangements (20%) -  Corporate social responsibility (20%)

Baby Boomers (ages 45-64)

  1. Additional benefits (health and pensions) (26%)
  2. Additional bonuses or financial incentives (23%)
  3. Additional compensation (21%) – Strong leadership/organizational support (21%)

Generation X (ages 30-44)

  1. Additional bonuses or financial incentives (21%)
  2. Additional compensation (19%) – Strong leadership/organizational support (19%)
  3. Customized/individualized career planning (18%) – Succession planning (18%)

Generation Y (under age 30)

  1. Company culture (21%)
  2. Flexible work arrangements (20%)
  3. New training programs (19%) - Support and recognition from supervisors or managers (19%)

Recruitment and retention of critical talent is sure to stay on the radar of executives for years to come as shortages and losses of skilled workers deepen.  As a result, an effective talent management program becomes a much sought-after competitive advantage as less than one company in five participating in the Talent Edge 2020 survey could describe themselves as “world class.”  

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Record 55 and Older Holding Jobs Squeezes Out Gen Ys

Better health, longer lives and less physically demanding jobs have prompted people to work longer. That’s good news for Baby Boomers who both long to work and have to work.  But it’s not good news for younger generations, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

Percent-of-working-population-by-age-2010The number of people 55 and older holding jobs is on track to hit a record 28 million in 2010. People in their 50s, 60s or 70s are staying employed longer than at any time on record. For example, 55% of people ages 60 to 64 were in the labor market during the first 11 months of 2010, up from 47% for the same period in 2000.

With job creation creeping along, young people increasingly are squeezed out of the labor market. The portion of people ages 16-24 in the labor market is at the lowest level since the government began keeping track in 1948, falling from 66% in 2000 to 55% this year. There are 17 million in that age group who are employed, the fewest since 1971 when the population was much smaller.

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Baby Boomer Retirement Plan Bust Bad News for Gen Y

The average American has saved less than 7 percent of his desired retirement nest egg. Even those fast approaching retirement age are not well-funded. Respondents aged 50 to 59 have saved an average of only $29,000 for retirement.

Middle-class Americans think they need $300,000 to fund their retirement, but on average have only saved $20,000, according to a survey released by Wells Fargo & Co.  Consequently, more than a third of respondents believe they will have to work during retirement in order to afford the things they want or just to make ends meet.    

“Middle class” is defined as those aged 30 to 69 with $40,000 to $100,000 in househoAld income or $25,000 to $100,000 in investable assets and those aged 25 to 29 with income or investable assets of $25,000 to $100,000.

This is another blow for Generation Y.  The percentage of Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree who are unemployed reached 5.1 percent, the highest figure since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking the number in 1970.

Meanwhile, national unemployment rose to 9.8 percent from 9.6 percent last month. Those with advanced educations have a massive impact on the overall rate of unemployment as that group accounts for 30 percent of the labor force.

Unemployment levels for lower-educated individuals however, still remain much higher. Ten percent of high school graduates are unemployed and an even larger 15.7 percent without high schools diplomas are jobless. That’s particularly troubling when you consider that 30 percent of young people still drop out of high school in the United States.

Creating jobs is obviously a priority for government and business to revitalize our economy.  But the unemployment rate will remain high for years to come with so many unemployed workers who have achieved a high school diploma or less.

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81 Percent Of Kids Have “Digital Footprint”; Boomers Delay Retirement

This Week’s Top Stories from the Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization Grapevine

Geeks

Working in a call center does not seem to be the Millennial’s generation cup of tea. According to a survey released by Sodexo Motivation Solutions, only 5 percent of the respondents regard working in a call center as exciting. More troubling for call center management is that only 55 percent consider call center work negatively. And the nail in the coffin is that one in three of those surveyed who are currently seeking work would rather claim unemployment benefits than work in a call center.

Geezers

Some 40 percent of U.S. workers say they’re going to have to delay retirement because they can’t afford to stop working, according to a survey released this week by consultants Towers Watson. The biggest reasons cited were the losses suffered in their retirement savings and the need to maintain company-sponsored health care coverage.

Googlization

They may not know how to use a computer yet, but a recent poll revealed that some children as young as six months already have an online presence, including their own email address. Antivirus maker AVG conducted a poll of mothers with children under two years old to see when they began uploading pictures of their kids to the web. According to the survey, the average age children acquire an online presence is six months, with more than 70 percent of mothers posting baby and toddler pictures online and sharing them through social networking sites. By the time they are two, 81 percent of kids have what AVG CEO J.R. Smith called a “digital footprint.” Other findings include:

  • 33 percent of children have had pictures posted online from birth.
  • 23 percent of parents uploaded their child’s pre-birth scan to the Internet.
  • 7 percent of babies even have an email address set up by their parents at birth.
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Report Paints Different Picture of Baby Boomer Job Hopping

The generation gap is growing. But a few recent studies are shattering some perceptions.

Gen Y has caught a lot of flack for job hopping and for having a bad case of employee disloyalty. Baby Boomer and Gen X managers claim it’s impossible to find good hires from amidst this young generation even with a shortage of jobs and a surplus of jobseekers.

But new data on who changes jobs frequently indicates that Baby Boomers might be the pot calling the kettle black.

The recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics may surprise many people.  The report shows that Late Boomers, born between 1957 and 1964, have been busy hopping between employers. In fact, between ages 18 and 44, the Late Boomers have had an average of 11 employers, which translates into a job change every 2.4 years.

Job hopping was even worse among Late Boomer men without a high school diploma. They held an average of 13.3 jobs, while men with at least a bachelor’s degree still had 11 jobs. In the case of women, uneducated ones, in fact, had fewer jobs (9.7) than their degreed counterparts (11.7 jobs).

During the time of life (ages of 18-22) when most people move between school and summer jobs, the Late Boomers held an average of 4.4 jobs. However, they kept moving even at more mature ages: they had 2.6 jobs between ages 28-32, and at ages 39-44 they still held an average of 2 jobs. Among the jobs that 39- to 44-year-olds started, one third ended in less than a year.

Job hopping isn’t simply a Gen Y problem, and any explanation that sites only the character and upbringing of young workers for perceived disloyalty doesn’t match up with the picture painted by the data.

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Cool Job Creation Heats Up Generation Tensions

While the economy sputters, tensions heats up between the generations.

Lost in the diversity of generational news last week was a common element – the generations are struggling to right themselves following the recession and going forward.

The just released cover story of October’s The Atlantic magazine talks about the Baby Boomers’ last chance to redeem themselves after what the writer Michael Kinsley describes as decades of self-absorbed and self-indulgent behavior.

The postwar generation is leaving a bitter legacy: crumbling infrastructure, crushing public debt, and a reflexive cynicism about all institutions, from churches to Congress to the media. It’s time for redemption…Kinsley urges fellow Boomers to cough up some cash—say, $14 trillion—to fix the mess they’re leaving.

That could be a problem.  Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research released a study last week too that exposed a retirement income deficit that few people likely found surprising. The gap between what Americans need for retirement and the amount they have saved is a staggering $6.6 trillion.

“The retirement income deficit is the gap between the pensions and retirement savings that American households have today and what they should have today to be on track to maintain their living standard in retirement,” said Karen Friedman, executive vice president and policy director of the Pension Rights Center. “The retirement income deficit shows just how bad the crisis has become.”

If Baby Boomers can’t maintain the lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to, they will likely keep working.  An article in Fast Company last week offered harsh realities that have stymied Generation Y (also called Millennials). Topping the list was: The Baby Boomers are not voluntarily leaving the workplace! :

The Recession has decimated the Boomers’ opportunity to retire and left them with no choice but to continue to work for the foreseeable future. And, because Boomers are living during a period when medical science is going to continue to improve their ability to be healthy and work, that “foreseeable future” is a lot longer than anyone could have imagined!

As I’ve described in several articles in the past, that’s bad news for Generation X and Generation Y.  The Fast Company article goes on to describe several scenarios that will only feed the frustration felt by the jobless Gen Ys and career-stalled Gen X.

Not only are the Boomers going to remain in the workplace but they are also going to retain their positions of authority…If they are forced out of their current employment positions, Baby Boomers will actively compete with the Millennials for other jobs!

And despite being recognized as “digital natives” and the “Internet Generation,” the advantage these young Gen Y adults may be dissipating with time. The fourth harsh reality describes

“…how the Technological Edge the Millennials touted as the differentiator between them and the other Generations in the workplace is diminishing as the other Generations, faced with no choice, close the technological gap. Boomers may never be able to text as fast as Millennials but they will be able to text fast enough for the workplace! And Boomers have the interpersonal skill set to go with the texting skill set!”

Putting the shrinking technology gap into perspective, one group wonders if the technology gap is myth or reality.  The author says “I find that Millennial (Google Generation) students have the fastest thumbs in the west and can answer a cell phone call at the speed of light.  Beyond this, their technology related skills, from an academic perspective, seem quite limited.”

This was also the topic of conversation before and during a panel discussion last week at Harrisburg University. While all the panelists agree that Generation Y are the most comfortable generation using technology, they may not be the most skilled at applying it in the workplace.

Of course, the more imminent impact of the recession and delayed departure of Baby Boomers will be felt by Generation X.  Kinsley wrote in a forum response to his Atlantic article how “Gen-Xers are going to get screwed by [the entitlements and debt government is accumulating] even more than Boomers as the bills come in.”

And while the bills could be huge, the impact on society could be even bigger.

The U.S. Census Bureau released a report, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009, last week too. It revealed that that one in seven Americans are living in poverty.  It  also found that more than 8 percent of people between 25 and 34 (mostly Generation Y) are living with their parents.

Education is often prescribed as the solution to society’s ills and as the pathway to regaining our competitive position in the global marketplace.  If the prescription is correct, then the patient is dying based on a new report, Yes We Can: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males 2010. Calling it a “national crisis,” the report found that only 47 percent of black males graduated from high school in the 2007-2008 school year. And in New York City, the district with the nation’s highest enrollment in African American students, only 28% percent of its African American males students receive a high school diploma.

Poverty and poor graduation rates are unlikely to significantly increase tensions between generational gaps in the workforce.  But ignoring these problems will only add to the burden borne by future generations who will need to figure out ways to support millions of people who are unemployable.

In the short term, the longer unemployment remains high the more resentment will likely build between generations both in the workplace and in our communities.

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Older Adults Join Facebook Frenzy

The hottest growth segment on Facebook and other online social networking sites is guys like Richard and Ray and their lady friends.  No, Richard and Ray aren’t two college kids enjoying the party life.

Richard and Ray are what most people might call “geezers.”  In fact, these two gentlemen are members of a special group of the elderly population.  They belong to the “oldest old” group – Americans who are at least 85 years of age.

Seniors-using-computer_000009129801

And that’s what makes this story so interesting. Richard Bosack, age 89, joined Facebook recently, after his buddy Ray Urbans, age 96, recommended the ubiquitous social networking site a few days earlier. (And I’m still trying to get quite a few 50- and 60-something neighbors to check their emails regularly!)

The two older men might be viewed as exceptions in a space that is considered the proprietary realm of teens, young adults, and moms.  But Grandma and Grandpa are joining Facebook and other social networking sites in record numbers.  As the Pew Research Center recently described this trend, Grampy and Grammy are getting down with “the Face.”

Social networking use among Internet users 65 and older grew by a staggering 100 percent in the last year, a recent Pew Research Center survey reports. In 2009, social networking use by folks 65 and older stood at 13 percent. This year, 26 percent of people in that age group who are using the Internet also are delving into Facebook and other social networking sites. Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled—from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010.And it’s not only social networking sites that are attracting seniors. Looking at adults ages 65 and older who have high-speed internet connections at home, 72% say they use the internet on a typical day. That compares with 77% of broadband users ages 50-64, 84% of those ages 30-49 and 86% of those ages 18-29.

AARP says the top four online activities for people over 60 are Google, Facebook, Yahoo and YouTube.

Tammy Gordon, AARP’s senior adviser for social communications, says a quarter of the organization’s members are using Facebook, and the number is rising quickly. Nearly 19 million people ages 55 and over used Facebook in July, up from about 9 million one year ago, according to comScore.

“Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, but their growth pales in comparison with recent gains made by older users,” explains Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and author of the report.

What does the 60 and older crowd find so appealing in social networking?

1. Older Social networking users are much more likely to reconnect with people from their past, and these renewed connections can provide a powerful support network when people near retirement or embark on a new career.

2. The appeal of social networking for older Americans may also be related to managing health issues. Older adults are more likely to be living with a chronic disease , and those living with these diseases are more likely to reach out for support online. Having a chronic disease significantly increases an internet user’s likelihood to say they work on a blog or contribute to an online discussion, a listserv, or other forum that helps people with personal issues or health problems.
3. Most older adults have been introduced to social networking by their children. Social media bridges generational gaps. While the results can sometimes be messy, these social spaces pool together users from very different parts of people’s lives and provide the opportunity to share skills across generational divides. This has the potential for strengthening family ties and work relationship across generations.

One idea circulating around is to support a “National Digital Literacy Corps” that trains volunteers to teach digital skills to those who are least connected in their communities—including pairing tech-savvy digital natives with seniors. With 86% of internet users ages 18-29 using social networking sites and 60% doing so on a typical day, it is not hard to imagine that some of these young mentors would be eager to share their skills in profile management with older users.

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Book Sale: Geeks, Geezers, & Googlization Anniversary Sale- 40% off!

I’m celebrating the 1-year anniversary of the release of my book Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization and preparing for another printing.

For all of you who have purchased a copy, THANK YOU! For anyone who wants to order a 2nd copy for a colleague, boss, client, or co-worker… and for those of you who forgot to order the 1st one…I’ve got a great deal for you.

To celebrate the anniversary and re-printing, I’m offering a special discount – an additional 15% off retail. That’s on top of the 25% off that I offer for customers who order direct from our website.  So instead of paying $16.49, you can purchase Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization for the special price of $13.19. That’s a savings of $8.80. But hurry – the offer ends September 30, 2010.

And that’s not all. For purchases of 5 or more books, I’ll pay shipping!

To order your books now, go to Buy The Book and enter coupon code GGG-1Year.

But act now – the offer ends at the end of the month.

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Generation Gaps Occur At All Ages

Like many workers, one day earlier this year former Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Donovan McNabb and Gen Xer came to work only to discover he was old.

The 6 time Pro-bowler and 5 time conference title QB was dealt to the division rival Washington Redskins.  One reason given for the trade was a generation gap, although Coach Andy Reid denied age was a part of the criteria in the decision to part ways with McNabb.

One might expect that defensive remark coming from an employer in this litigious job market.  Age discrimination is a major concern as businesses try their best to rebuild their workforces. Many businesses chose to force early retirement and layoffs to create openings for younger, cheaper workers who could keep pace in a faster paced, more dynamic, and more innovative marketplace.

The wrinkle in this generation gap story however is that McNabb is only 33 years old.

BehindTheLines-3-Ira

As I’ve said before, the gap between generations isn’t always about age, but attitude. The Eagles new twenty-something line-up plays fast and they connect in a nanosecond. It even forces 52-year-old baby boomer Eagles head coach Andy Reid to keep his Blackberry charged.  “I text,” Reid says. “I’ll text something like ‘have a great day at practice.’ Or if I go through practice at the end I might shoot a guy a text like ‘great job’ or whatever the correction might be.


Communication wasn’t quite the same with McNabb and former Eagle running back Brian Westbrook. Both players dominated much of the offense for the past seven years but both also had other life demands and interests that started to separate them for the younger players.But this year it was out with the old and in with the new generation of younger players. Kevin Kolb, McNabb’s replacement 26, is the oldest of the offensive nucleus. Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy are 22, while DeSean Jackson is 23. Tight end Brent Celek is 25. He and Kolb are the only guys in the group legally old enough to rent a car.

In addition to texting and tweeting, the new generation spends a lot of time together off the field. McNabb had a lot of different demands on his time. Jeremy Maclin felt that “being close in age you just kind of bond with guys a little more around your age. And I think it does translate to the field.”

Employers of all types of organizations could learn a lesson or two from the Eagles story.  First, generation gaps aren’t limited to Baby Boomers and Millennials. They occur between younger and older workers even when only a few years separate the workers.  Second, generations isn’t just influenced by age differences, but attitudes toward life and work.

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Employers and Employees On Collision Course

Employers and employees are obviously headed for a collision to be played out in a workplace near you.  A recently released Deloitte report called the standoff “a tale of two mindsets.”

Many employers seem to believe their employees have few options in this weak economy.  They feel employees should feel lucky they have job.

Employees, especially the most talented and qualified, see the world a bit differently. Among employees surveyed in the Deloitte survey, a significant number of workers are looking to jump ship. Thirty percent of employees are currently working the job market and nearly half are at least considering leaving their current jobs.

That stands in sharp contrast to the executives who were surveyed. Only 9 percent of executives expect voluntary turnover to increase significantly among Generation X employees. That means 9 out of 10 executives may be ignoring the elephant in the room.

The survey revealed that about 22 percent of Generation X employees are actively job hunting.  Even more alarming, only 37 percent plan to remain with their current employers.  Employers might find Generation Y a little stickier when it comes to retention but even then 44 percent plan to stay put over the next year.

Employee retention isn’t the only thing that executives and employees appear to disagree on. When asked to rank their top three retention tactics, employees chose in every instance different non-financial incentives than the executives. Even greater differences existed when executives were asked to identify retention strategies that might appeal to different generations.

For instance, Gen Y and executives agreed that additional compensation and bonuses were effective.  But that’s where agreement broke down.  While 29 percent of the executives believe flexible work arrangements were what Gen Y wanted, nearly 4 out of 10 Gen Y employees said they wanted job advancement opportunities.  Generation X wants a job with good wages but are only willing to stay if they can learn new skills too.

Like they’ve done many times in the past, Baby Boomers break the mold on retention strategies too.

Baby Boomers are looking for strong leadership, additional bonuses, and more compensation. Executives offer benefits, bonuses and flexible work arrangements.

Based on the results of this survey, executives are offering money and flexibility while the three most active generations in the workplace want opportunity, bonuses, and compensation.  Executives need to learn that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to employee retention and stop using the recession as their primary retention strategy.

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