The Challenge of the Future Workforce #EWS2015

Editor’s Note: Women of HR has partnered with Spherion on a series of sponsored posts to bring you highlights and commentary from their 2015 Emerging Workforce Study, which contains a great deal of interesting data and statistics about future trends in the workforce and our workplaces.  This is the second in that series.  Watch for more over the coming months.

 

Any HR professional who has been around for any amount of time or has paid any attention at all knows that we are dealing with workforces that now span many generations.  There’s no lack of research, presentations, or opinions on the challenges that multi-generational workforces pose to employers.  I work for a retail organization so I see it firsthand; there’s probably no other industry where it’s more common to have multiple generations working under the same roof, side by side.  I don’t believe that generations alone are to blame or are the reason for the differences in workers; I believe even some of the issues that are attributed to generational differences actually cross over.  But no doubt multi-generational workforces do attribute to varying degrees of technological adaptation, disparate expectations regarding how and where work should and could be done, and different viewpoints on the nature of work and the employee/employer relationship.

 

But beyond those generational differences in the approach to work, one of the biggest issues we need to stay on top of as employers is how the different generations in the workforce, and more importantly the changing makeup of generations in the workforce, is going to impact how we recruit, manage, develop, and retain our workforces going forward.

 

Generally, I think most of us understand that, at least according to these statistics from the 2015 Emerging Workforce Study:

  • 70% of employers say that Baby Boomers exiting the workforce will leave a major skills gap within their organizations
  • One-third of employers are concerned about turnover and retention (up from 23% last year)
  • 63% of employers have increased succession planning and efforts to address impeding Boomer retirement
  • 58% are already preparing to attract and recruit Gen Z to stay ahead of future talent needs.

 

That’s the good news; as employers generally we do recognize that there’s an impending issue ahead, and many of us are taking steps to address it.  So what’s the bad news?

 

The bad news is in the generations we’re counting on to step up to fill the gap, namely Gen Y and Gen Z.  You see, the study also cites that Gen Y and Gen Z are the least loyal generations, most likely to leave current employers, and that job satisfaction and engagement among these groups is low.  So these groups we’re focusing our recruiting, development, succession planning, and retention efforts on are quite possibly not as happy, engaged, or loyal as we need them to be to ensure our future success.

 

What’s an HR Leader To Do?

Perhaps we’re never again going to see the long term loyalty and blind devotion to one company that existed in years and generations past.  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t thing we can do as employers to prolong the tenures of our younger employees, incentivizing them to stick around maybe a little longer that they otherwise might have, and ensuring that they are engaged and productive members of the team while they are there.  Here’s a few ideas:

  • It’s not enough to have succession plans in place. Ensure that high potentials KNOW they are high potentials and exactly what they need to do to get to the next level.  Provide the development opportunities to help them get there.
  • Be mindful of your online reputation. This is important to Gen Y and Gen Z.  If you don’t have someone not only monitoring what’s being said about you online, but also proactively engaging with the online community and promoting your employment brand and offering, designate someone to start doing so.  Not only does this help with retention and engagement of current employees, it’ll help with your recruiting efforts as well.
  • Ensure that not only are you communicating a solid employment brand, but that your culture matches what you’re preaching. There’s no surer way to lose new hires than to immerse them in a culture that’s not aligned with what you promised.

 

It’s going to continue to be a battle out there, and those employers who are aware, who are proactive, and who execute what they promise will be the ones to rise to the top.

 

Disclosure: Spherion partnered with bloggers such as me for their Emerging Workforce Study program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any idea mentioned in these posts. Spherion believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Spherion’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

About the Author

Jennifer Payne

Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

4 Comments

Micole Kaye

Jennifer, these are great suggestions for attracting and retaining Gen Y and Gen Z. I have been reading a lot about future workforces wanting mentors. Having an attractive mentorship program might be a good way to capture future workforces as well!

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