T+D March 10 // Intelligence //
Aging Agencies Risk Workforce Shortages
By Alexandra Bradley
As baby boomers near retirement, state agencies are at an especially high risk to lose a large portion of their workforce. Data from a survey of state agencies highlights what’s being done to strengthen boomer retention.
A huge demographic shift is taking place. As the populous baby boomer generation ages and nears retirement, many organizations are primed to face shortages in the workforce. And because the public sector is aging more rapidly than the private sector, state agencies are at a greater risk of losing a large chunk of their workforce in the next decade.
In 2008, the Twiga Foundation and the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College collected data to assess how state agencies were preparing for the impending shortage. In the “States as Employers-of-Choice Survey,” released in 2009, the organizations evaluated state agencies’ progress in retaining older workers.
The survey focused on state agencies because they tend to be among the largest employers in many states, and their workforce is aging more rapidly. “They have been experiencing these shifts of the aging of the workforce actually a little bit ahead of the private sector, so it seemed to be a very important part of the workforce that we wanted to be able to offer support and be able to gain some new insights into what they were doing,” says Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, director of the Sloan Center.
The report, based on the survey’s findings, asked three main questions:
- To what extent are state agencies assessing how the aging of the workforce might affect their organizations?
- In general, how are late-career workers perceived at state agencies?
- How are state agencies responding to today’s multigenerational workforce?
While state agencies excel in both their awareness and assessment of the impact of the aging workforce on their organizations, they have found it more difficult than the private sector to implement change. This disparity may be a result of challenges that state agencies face, such as the ability to offer competitive pay and benefits; ability to recruit competent job applicants; and unwanted turnover.
In evaluating the perceptions of late-career workers at state agencies, state agencies valued the contributions of the older generation to a higher degree than the private sector. And in a time of economic uncertainty, these contributions might be especially obvious.
“I do think some of the assets that older workers can bring during difficult periods may have become more visible to employers [during the economic downturn],” says Pitt-Catsouphes. “Essentially, it may be due to the experience of having been through previous recessions that older workers were able to sustain that level of feeling engaged.”
Finally, in evaluating how state agencies respond to the multigenerational workforce, the study found that actively recruiting employees of diverse ages and offering flexible work options, which the Twiga Foundation and the Sloan Center support, were two key measures used by state agencies. Well-received work options included schedule flexibility, telecommuting, and extended leave for care-giving.
The workforce as a whole will be affected by this demographic shift, but trainers must be especially strong in their ability to adapt. According to Pitt-Catsouphes, trainers need to understand that the workforce “landscape” has changed and be knowledgeable about the implications that these changes could have. This means using age-responsive strategies and approaches to address the needs of older workers and creating flexible training options that can be adapted to the more pliable work options implemented by organizations.
T+D March 10 // Leadership //
Ready or Not, Guys: Here They Come!
By Ann Pace
The onset of a new decade finds more women filling roles of leadership and influence across the globe.
Today, five times more female diplomats serve as international ambassadors than 10 years ago. And while this exponential growth of female political leaders has been chalked up to the “Hillary effect,” it may be infiltrating the workplace as well.
According to The Guardian Small Business Research Institute—a mutual insurer committed to protecting the interests of small businesses—women-owned small businesses will contribute more than 5 million new jobs across the United States within the next 10 years. This means that women-owned small businesses will generate more than half of the 9.72 million new small business jobs and approximately one-third of the 15.3 million total new jobs anticipated by 2018.
“As a result of the increasing influence and business leadership of women small business owners, the workplace of tomorrow will be far less hierarchical,” says Mark Wolf, director of The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute.
Wolf explains the distinct differences that women bring to their leadership approach: “Women are more diligently engaged in strategic and tactical facets of their business than men, and they are more proactively customer-focused. They are also more likely to incorporate community and environment in business practice. Additionally, they are more open to receiving guidance from internal and external consultants, and they have a deeper level of commitment to creating opportunities for others,” Wolf says.
The institute’s projections are based on foundational statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, estimates, and historical norms, as well as a rigorous analysis of converging factors such as the faster growth rate of women-owned small businesses versus male-owned, higher female college graduation rates, and the predicted growth of industry sectors dominated by women.
“Healthcare services and professional and business services, which are heavily dominated by small businesses and disproportionately dominated by women, will produce more than 8 million jobs over the next five to 10 years,” Wolf says.
John Krubski, futurist and research advisor to the Institute, notes, “Women small business owners will ultimately create more opportunities for employees to grow in their jobs and inspire others to start their own small businesses, all while providing customers with superior service.”
T+D March 10 // Change Management //
Transformation Begins at the Top
By Dean Smith
In this era of uncertainty and turbulence, organizations can no longer turn to the traditional methods of “restructuring” and “reengineering” to force change.
New structures, processes, and systems should be introduced to drive innovation, but if senior leadership fails to collaborate, the path to change remains grounded on the runway. Transforming an organization begins at home—with its leadership culture—and depends on the capacity of senior leadership to work together in leading change.
A recent whitepaper from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) titled “Transforming Your Organization” showed that leadership approaches focusing on flexibility, collaboration, crossing boundaries, and collective leadership are more important than individual contributions or making the numbers.
Researching the effectiveness of senior teams for a new book coming out in 2011, Lisa Haneberg has found that leaders rarely view themselves as a collective, while staff on the other hand, view senior leadership together—not as individuals.
“Senior leaders are measured on goals related to finance, productivity, and quality, not things such as team cohesion or success,” says Haneberg. “And yet, who they are together matters more than their individual contributions.”
The CCL whitepaper reports that “by creating and advancing new beliefs and leadership practices, organizational leadership together has the chance to rise above current behavior and thinking.” When executives change their leadership culture, the rewards include greater speed and flexibility, achievement of bottom-line results, and the creation of shared direction, alignment, and commitment throughout the organization.
Given an immediate mandate for change, companies must invest in a leadership culture that will match the size and scope of the challenge. It’s also fair to assume that the culture that brought your organization to its current situation will not have enough capacity to achieve transformation.
A starting point for transformation will require an organization to select the right level of leadership culture. Choosing the right one will make the difference between success and failure. Asking a leadership culture dependent on the authority and control of it leaders to innovate with agility is a recipe for disaster. One that is interdependent and views leadership as a collective activity based on mutual inquiry and learning can develop the capacity to handle more complex challenges.
The days of delegating change are gone. Transforming the senior team must happen first, and the task should not be given to HR. The CCL whitepaper states, “No proxy can carry the senior team’s responsibility.” Transforming a belief system demands heavy lifting on the part of leadership and a willingness to learn together while moving the organization forward. A shared ownership of change, as well as a healthy dose of intestinal fortitude, is required for success.
Rearranging deck chairs and whitewashing the fence under the guise of transformation will fail. Does your leadership team have what it takes for serious change?
“Eight smart people trying to get things done is not a collective,” says Haneberg. “Their behaviors are not consistent. What gets measured doesn’t indicate their effectiveness as a team.”
T+D March 10 // The Economy //
Retention in the Upswing
By Eileen McKeown
The economy has kept many employees from bolting, but an improved forecast may ignite a mass exodus. Organizations are aware of this fact, but very few have strategies in place to combat it.
The loss of millions of jobs during arguably the worst recession in 64 years has created a job market that trends toward favoring the employer over the employee. But that could change when the economy improves.
“The Retention Strategy and Execution Pulse Survey” conducted in November 2009 by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) highlights that nonengaged or underappreciated workers are ready to leave their current positions en masse—an inevitable trend as options for departure open up and in an environment where most companies lack effective ways of addressing employee retention during a time of recovery.
According to the study, 47 percent of polled organizations say that the current economic slump has had a “somewhat” or “significantly” positive effect on employee retention. Of the companies surveyed, only 20 percent report that they have in fact increased their retention efforts, with higher-performing companies increasing this effort more substantially than lower performers (27 percent to 17 percent, respectively).
Most high-level managers consider the retention and recruitment of the best employees to be an important part of their long-term business strategy. Yet, many companies still do not have the framework in place to effectively retain their employees. Organizations also are not spending money on retention programs due to existing budget constraints and those brought on by the lagging economy.
“It seems that many companies may be dropping the ball when it comes to retention issues,” says i4cp senior research analyst Carol Morrison. “They’ve identified retention as a concern, but they’re not willing to fund programs for it, and they are losing out on opportunities to find out why employees are leaving.”
The survey also shows that of those organizations that have a retention plan in place, 44 percent say that they don’t regularly review their retention strategies and programs. In higher-performing organizations, that number drops to 32 percent, while 51 percent of lower performers report that they do not review their strategies or programs. “Clearly, more attention to retention issues is going to be needed as the economy improves and turnover inevitably increases,” states Morrison.
There is a high cost attached to employee turnover. Studies have shown that turnover rates can carry a price tag across the United States of $25 billion annually, with the cost of hiring and training an hourly worker at 300 to 700 times the worker’s hourly wage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there could be 10 million more jobs available than there are employees to fill them in the United States by the end of 2010.
As the economy improves, employees are waking up to the idea of reviewing their employment options. Those who have endured pay cuts, bonus losses, organizational restructuring, and layoffs will be looking to broaden their horizons. What strategies will your company implement to combat the exodus?
T+D March 10 // Fast Fact //
E-Learning for Kids: Instructional Design Volunteers Needed
E-Learning for Kids, a global not-for-profit foundation that reached more than 1.5 million children in 2009 (www.e-learningforkids.org), needs e-learning experts to create highly engaging and interactive free e-learning courses for children ages 5 to 12. Courses help students build and strengthen skills in math, language arts, science, computers, health, life skills, and the English language.
The foundation needs volunteer instructional designers to develop one or more storyboards for courses; e-learning project managers to oversee and manage the design and development process with the volunteers; and quality assurance personnel to review, test, and provide feedback.
But the foundation’s biggest need is instructional designers. The approximate time commitment is 50 hours during an eight-week period for the development of two storyboards.
“We understand that there are so many demands on your time, but consider sharing your skills and passion with e-Learning for Kids for as much or as little as you can give,” says Nick van Dam, founder and chairman of e-Learning for Kids. “In today’s complex world, children’s futures are determined by their ability to master the basics of reading, science, math, and computers. Yet costs, class sizes, and other issues often prevent children access to quality online learning that can support and reinforce these essential skills.”
If you are interested and available to participate, send an email to email@example.com.
T+D March 10 // Infograph //
U.S. Job Satisfaction at Lowest Level in Two Decades
Fewer Americans are satisfied with all aspects of their employment, and no age or income group is immune. In fact, the youngest cohort of employees (those currently under age 25) expresses the highest level of dissatisfaction ever recorded by the survey for that age group, according to a recent report by the Conference Board.