How to Save your Workforce

Your talent is going to walk out. Let’s talk about how to save your workforce.

You’re about to lose 40% of your workforce. Yep, we said it. That’s awfully close to HALF! Over recent years, we’ve seen many Baby Boomers retire. Waved goodbye as they took their knowledge and expertise out the door with them. As of December 2018, 39.2% of people in the US workforce were aged 55 or older. Traditionally, most people retire in their early to mid-60s. So what does this say for your company in the next 5-10 years?

One thing we know is that it’s difficult to find the talent necessary to stay relevant, deliver quality products or services, and meet customer demands. Employees are accepting positions even though they don’t have the skills necessary to fulfill the job. And we’re letting them. Managers and HR Professionals throw “bodies” at problems rather than hire the required talent to get the job done adequately – simply because the best employees already work somewhere else!

Ten years ago, the national unemployment rate was 9%. The latest data this year shows it at 3.6%.  This means that it’s the lowest it’s been since 1969, right after the minimum wage was raised to $1.60 per hour. And we know you can’t offer that pay rate anymore…Are there even enough replacements coming along to pick up the slack?

Businesses everywhere need to make some changes as Gen Xers take their executive seats, and Millennials become comfortable in the workforce. Otherwise, they’ll experience a severe drain on talent. So, here’s how to save your workforce.

Create a culture where people want to stay.

You must create a challenging environment where people know what is expected. Employees should know how they can contribute and make a difference from day one. We live in an age of immediate gratification. Reward people for their work and help them see that they’re making a difference. Additionally, allow for flexibility in schedules and take a serious look at letting go of the need to have people in the office all the time. We have the technology to work from just about anywhere. Don’t you want it to still be for you?

Hire before the need.

Search for the talent and skills you will need and begin hiring yesterday. This requires a little strategic thinking: know what kind of talent and culture will be needed to move your company forward. And what changes you will need to make in the coming years to accommodate newer generations’ work habits and preferences. Many executives think that hiring talent before you need it actually moves the company forward at a much faster rate. And they’re right!

Create a mentor program.

One of the main things that employees are looking for is development, both personally and professionally. When people retire or change jobs, their relationships with customers leave, and so does the experience and intellectual capital. Begin a process to transfer that information to other talented professionals within your organization. This process needs to be purposeful. Not formal and stuffy. Pair newer employees with tenured ones, before it’s too late.

Train individuals to be prepared for promotion. 

Yes, it’s time to start succession planning. Create a list of beliefs, experience, skills, and knowledge a person will need in order to be eligible for a promotion. Build your bench now. Using the list you come up with, develop your people and create opportunities for them to learn.

Although these are just a few suggestions on how to save your workforce, they can make a huge impact on the future talent pool of your company. You have a choice here. Wait until you’re struggling to find the talent needed to meet company goals or begin the process now. Stay ahead of the game. The investment now is likely to get you a much greater return.

Originally published August 2016. Updated June 2019.

 


Here are some symptoms that may indicate it’s time to start succession planning!

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