The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently that 18.5% of the workforce is older than 65. Moreover, 7.8% of workers are over age 75. The number of millennials outnumbers the Boomers by 10 million. What’s happening to the workforce? Will there be a manager shortage?
Workers are working longer. That’s not news until you talk to sixty- and seventysomethings who freely admit they expect to work until they die. With incomes down and retirement plans worth less, what else can they do? How about reduce expectations? That is not a solution for most workers.
Workers will begin new careers between agees 55-75. If they are healthy, why not? However, if you ran a Fortune 500 company you might want to ask yourself where your next generation of workers will come from, especially if the Boomers bow out at 66. The answer is neither pat not pretty. Younger workers are incapable of the emotional attachment to an employer that Boomers had. Their dreams are all about creating or helping to create the Next Big Thing. That definitely excludes the largest corporations.
Unless the biggest companies can keep their oldest workers three years longer than the workers want to stay, there will be a huge labor shortage as workers choose what they will do. Boomers were highly motivated by money. Give them a raise and they switched on another cylinder. Workers under 35, even those married with children, are actively seeking a balanced lifestyle even if it costs them money “If you under consume you will be free,” is the unsung anthem. This leaves corporate leaders gasping. If money doesn’t motivate there is no hope! (There is always hope if you think creatively which most people don’t.)
Younger workers don’t want to manage people. They want to be doers. Who will lead? Expect second generation minority workers to manage. It’s their expectation that if they rise in an organization it proves they are superior. The fact that their main stream cohorts don’t care won’t bother them. Their parents will be proud and boastful.
Look down the road and ask if the largest companies may not have to break into smaller units to attract young workers. Won’t it be important to be lean not fat to attract the best and the brightest to organizations the latter consider less desirable? Here’s the problem: to compete for top talent, the company would have to acknowledge that it’s not attractive to a highly desirable audience and work to become so. Sort of like selling American cars to twentysomethings who overwhelmingly prefer Japanese cars.
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