The strategic HR agenda is likely to remain unchanged in 2016; cautious recruitment, a focus on skills retention and succession, assessing engagement and productivity in anticipation of the baby boomers starting to finally exit the workplace.
Employers are beginning to see the implications as less experienced younger managers replace key contributors. 2016 offers the opportunity to prepare before the flood gates really open. The timing of the exit needs to be at a time of the employer’s choosing and only after their experience has been passed on to those who are to follow.
Employers, employees, and shareholders want uninterrupted performance and this changing employee demographic will be a slow drag on performance if its impact is not anticipated and planned for.
Surveys have shown what appear to be corresponding needs from younger and older members of the workforce. Both value flexible work schedules either to accommodate child care or more personal time, while older employees want to work more from home and part time to phase into retirement. Can these form a common flexible work schedule accommodating both ends of the age spectrum?
Younger workers are keen to have an employer provide more “on the job” learning; baby boomers indicate a desire to leave their mark or legacy on their roles. Can these combine as employee development programs that transfer experience to younger managers?
Both groups want more flexibility in healthcare benefits but don’t appear to want the same options. Younger people place greater value on lifestyle benefits while older employees want retirement options and assistance with prescription drugs.
A more diverse workforce means more diverse terms and conditions at least through the transition, but these need not be as onerous as at first appear. Identify common needs that support business strategy. Some areas won’t lend themselves to a common approach and employers will need to consider the value of more complex arrangements to improve retention and engagement.
Changing expectations means mor employees asking “why” more often, and that is going to require greater transparency about the rationale for policies and practices. Employers will be pressed to demonstrate fairness and equity in all things. Don’t underestimate the significance of this change. Most employers rely on terms, conditions, and processes designed for baby boomers that treated pay, terms, and condition as private affairs. This will change. Grading systems, job evaluation and pay administration practices as well as HR policies will all be subject to extra scrutiny and failings will impact engagement and productivity.
Take the time to see how programs can be made more responsive to changing demographics and whether their rationale will stand up to increased attention.