Posts Tagged ‘older workers’

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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You Know You’re Growing Older When…

While searching for a file on an old hard drive, I came across this list of 25 ways to know you getting older.  I saved this list over 10 years ago. As a 40-something Baby Boomer at the time, I had no idea how accurate it would be!  But as an almost 60 year old Boomer, the list is painfully true.  Fortunately it’s also a tremendous source of smiles, if not outright laughter.  Here goes:

  1. Everything hurts and what doesn’t hurt, doesn’t work.
  2. The gleam in your eyes is from the sun hitting your bifocals.
  3. You feel like the morning after, and you haven’t been anywhere.
  4. Your address book (or contacts) contains only names ending in M.D.
  5. You get winded playing chess.
  6. Your children begin to look middle aged.
  7. You decide to procrastinate but then never get around to it.
  8. Your mind makes contracts your body can’t meet.
  9. A dripping faucet causes an uncontrollable bladder urge.
  10. You know all the answers, but nobody asks you the questions.
  11. You look forward to a dull evening.
  12. You walk with your head held high trying to get use to your bifocals.
  13. Your favorite part of the newspaper is “25 Years Ago Today.”
  14. You turn out the light for economic rather than romantic reasons.
  15. You sit in a rocking chair and can’t make it go.
  16. Your knees buckle and your belt won’t.
  17. After painting the town red, you have to take a long rest before applying a second coat.
  18. You’re startled the first time you are addressed as “Old Timer”.
  19. You remember today that yesterday was your wedding anniversary.
  20. You just can’t stand people who are intolerant.
  21. You burn the midnight oil after 9 PM.
  22. Your back goes out more than you do.
  23. The little gray haired lady you helped across the street is your wife.
  24. You have too much room in the house and not enough in the medicine cabinet.
  25. Your sink your teeth into a steak and they stay there.

Bette Davis once said, “Old age is not for sissies.” Ain’t it the truth?

Do you have any experiences that are missing from this list?  Please share them with us aging Baby Boomers!

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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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