The massive generational shift that’s taking place in today’s workforce is bringing change to businesses world-wide. Over the past few years, this is a topic that’s been heavily discussed across industries - and rightfully so.
Approximately 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age on a daily basis in the U.S. alone. That started in 2011 and is expected to continue until 2030. The setbacks associated with this departure of workplace veterans and influx of green hats have companies asking some important questions:
- How can they replace the institutional knowledge longtime employees – now retirees – are taking with them?
- How much time and money will it take to train new employees?
- How can they attract a younger workforce?
- How can they manage the job-hopping nature of the younger workforce?
That last one is interesting and increasingly important. Consider: 40 percent of baby boomers remain at one job for 20 or more years, while their younger colleagues only average two years per role. That’s a fundamental change in worker behavior, and something many employers see as a significant challenge to building a productive young workforce.
However, it’s certainly not all negative. In some cases, these obstacles may even provide opportunity and added value. For instance, take the job-hoppers that companies are sure to acquire, if they haven’t already. To most, the idea of fully training an employee just to have him or her leave the following year is certainly not ideal.
But, there is a plus side. These job-hoppers may be changing companies frequently, but they likely aren’t making major jumps in industries. What does that mean for the average company? This younger generation of job-hoppers with checkered resumés also likely has a wider general industry knowledge than an organization’s long-time 20-year employees.
Job hoppers accrue varied knowledge and ways of thinking from learning multiple processes, vendors, technologies and infrastructures. While they may lack the in-depth experience on a particular product their predecessors have, they will likely enter your organization with an increased overall understanding of various processes – a jack of all trades in a sense. Couple this variety of intermediate experience with the appropriate training and machine learning and they can take on a more diverse set of tasks and operations. Not to mention, these similar companies could very well be your competitors. That type of inside insight can be invaluable.
Companies are certainly justified in their concerns and should not ignore this inevitable shift. But more importantly, they need to embrace this change, setbacks and opportunities included, and proactively pursue and prepare for this new workforce. It is becoming increasingly important for companies to embrace technology to ease these changes including knowledge capture, mobile applications for simplifying training and work habits, and machine learning to aid in knowledge gaps and transfer.
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