October 22, 2014

Up Front

Embracing Workforce Trends

Bruce Faulmann | 8/1/2009

Just a few years ago when the unemployment rate was under 5%, competition for talent was fierce. Holding on to talented employees was a top priority.

Bruce Faulmann
Bruce Faulmann, Publisher
[Photo: Mark Wemple]
In the current economy, layoffs have put many more talented individuals into the job market, easing the pressure on businesses that need to fill vacancies or add staff.

Looking a few years ahead, competition for talent will once again be a top priority for most businesses. A key driver in that change is the eventual retirement of the Baby Boomers. At 80 million strong, the Boomer generation comprises much of the existing workforce. Generation Xers — born between 1965 and 1980 — are poised to fill jobs vacated by the retiring Boomers. Unfortunately, this group is much smaller

(46 million). The size difference in the two generations is projected to create a serious worker shortage that will change the dynamics of the workplace.

The gap will have to be filled by the generation behind the Xers, the generation known as Gen Y — or the Millennials — born between 1980 and 2000. Similar in size to the Boomers (about 76 million), Millennials will have a major impact on the workforce. With that in mind, Millennials are definitely a generation to watch and prepare your workplace to accommodate.

According to BridgeWorks, a Minneapolis-based research and consulting firm, Millennials, who have grown up in a world dominated by cell phones, PDAs and iPods, stay in constant contact with family, friends, news and events. They’re a very social group. In the workplace, they’re team-oriented and collaborative, less comfortable with working independently.

When asked who they admired most, the majority of Millennials say their parents, and those parents are often involved in all aspects of their children’s lives, including career decisions and workplace issues. In fact, stories of parents contacting employers with questions about their children’s performance and career opportunities are on the rise. For most of us Boomers, the thought of talking to a parent about an employee’s performance is a strange notion. Nonetheless, it is a reality with this new generation, and something employers will need to address as the Millennials grow in the workforce ranks.

Workplace issues are also different for Millennials. Their top concern, according to BridgeWorks, is “personal safety on the job.” The tragic events of Sept. 11, Columbine and the Oklahoma City bombings were events that changed their perceptions of what were once safe havens for people to gather.

What all this means is that the workplace is dynamic and evolving, fueled by the talents and behaviors of each generation. Companies that embrace and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the current and future workforce will have an edge today and in tomorrow’s competitive business world. Now is the time to look at your company and assess your workplace to determine if you’re providing the right environment to retain and attract the best people.

See our new section here for our special features on the Best Companies To Work For in Florida. We’ve highlighted the practices of companies that have established themselves as great places to work — including everything from how they train their workers to how they communicate and the kind of pay and benefits they provide. This is a great opportunity for companies in Florida to learn from each other as they go about improving their own effectiveness.

Tags: Publisher's column, Business Services

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