Perfect Storm: The Impending Workforce Crisis
In the movie The Perfect Storm, a small fishing vessel has the misfortune of encountering the worst Mother Nature has to offer. Just like this boat, today's employers are facing a combination of conditions just as threatening as those on the high seas. With a slumping economy, skyrocketing oil prices and a shrinking workforce, businesses must be prepared for the worst--or they could face a similar misfortune.
Over the next decade, the leadership talent pool (ages 35-44) will be reduced by 9 percent. That number will shrink by another 10 percent by 2020 according to the U.S. Census Bureau, International Database. Five issues all employers should be concerned with include:
- Not enough bodies. The growth in the working-age population is screeching to a halt.
- The workforce is getting older. The U.S. population 2000-2010 shows a rapid growth in the over-55 workforce. This means the leadership pool is shrinking.
- Inappropriately skilled workers. Over the next decade only 30 percent of 21-year-olds will obtain a college degree, while over 90 percent of the new jobs created in the U.S. will require a college degree.
- A highly diverse workforce. The emerging workforce contains the diverse values of the following generational groups: Traditionalist, Leading-edge Boomer, Trailing-edge Boomer, Generation X and Generation Y.
- Less desire for a leg up. All groups are showing a decline in their desire for greater responsibility.
With a pattern of declining birthrates, skill shortages and an increasingly older population, we see a common pattern affecting the workforce of the industrialized world. In the U.S. we have the added situation of "boomers" and "echo-boomers," which indicates that changes in the workforce are not going away anytime soon.
Compounding the issue, experts say only 30 percent of 20-year-olds will obtain a college degree during the next decade. The bottom line is HR will have to change the "requirements" of job descriptions to "desires," and employers will need to spend more time educating and training their workforce, Erickson says.
Additionally, organizations face increased ethnic, generational and racial diversity. These diverse values and generational differences place a greater demand on managers and leaders. They need to be managed and led in a different manner. Employers need to be looking at ways to converge HR and training as a standard practice to keep pace in a highly complex labor market. Organizations need to gear up for this now by asking the following questions:
- Are your managers and leaders able to cultivate the diversity, generational differences and shifting talents of today’s workforce?
- Will they be able to lead teams to increase productivity and high performance?
- Have you put plans in place to increase professional development in your organization?
If your answer to any of these questions is no, or if you are not sure, you may have reason to be concerned about the future of your company.
Cultivate the potential of each person. Build greater flexibility in your work hours. Discover what satisfies and dissatisfies each generation. The 35-45 year olds are looking for more family time and are less willing to take on greater responsibility. You may want to include the following in your plan:
- Start with a sound hiring strategy for the best talent that meets or exceeds current and future needs.
- Create a plan for retaining new and identifying existing talent in the organization.
- Examine workplace dimensions such as leadership, communication, training and recognition.
- Create a training program for existing managers and up-and-coming leaders in the 25-34 year-old group that focuses on:
- Maintaining and enhancing team member self-esteem.
- Behavior--what team members do rather than their attitudes or personal characteristics?
- Encouraging team member participation in decision-making and problem solving.
Fortunately, there is still time to put your organizational plan in place. Recognize that the world around you is changing. It includes the new millennium workforce that has totally different needs and expectations. It is about adapting. Prepare now and avoid being caught in the storm.
One response to the human capital crisis is to promote boomerang migration:
Class member Jennifer Tavares, who works in the economic development office at Commerce Chenango, explained the class came up with the idea for the “Come on home, Chenango” project after they realized they wanted to draw people back. Local physician Dr. Thomas Holmes took the idea and ran with it, drafting a letter. The class decided to distribute the letter, along with informative pamphlets about what Chenango County has to offer, to residents who have left the area.
The Leadership Chenango class identified goals for the project, which include attracting young families and retirees back to Chenango County, inspiring businesses to be created or relocated in this area, preventing the “brain drain,” helping to grow Chenango’s economy and tax base and continuing to invest in Chenango County so it will grow and prosper.
“It doesn’t have to be young families,” Tavares explained. “It can be retirees, or anyone who has lived or worked in the community who is looking to come back. We certainly want to reach out to those people, too.”
Just to dump some more information and overload this humble blog post, further consider a guest column written by a Toledo resident:
Young smart people need to have some experience in other regions of the country to appreciate what their hometown has to offer; the grass is not always greener concept. That experience could be found in going away to school or finding gainful employment in larger or smaller markets.
If we retain the 50+ group in our region, chances are that the younger smart people will return. Why? Family ties are the top reason kids return home. If we retain the 50+ people, we have a greater chance of the young, smart Brain Drainers returning.
Your community might be busy crafting an initiative to bring home your prodigal daughters and sons. If so, I have a recommendation. Target the 50+ demographic currently residing in your region. Do so will provide a valuable link to all that wayward human capital. The second target should be working-age women, who are more likely to follow the chain migration home. Anticipating that coming talent return flow, endeavor to transform the occupational landscape to be more accommodating to the career needs of women.
You're welcome, Chenango.