As the baby boomer generation approaches the retirement stage of their careers, employers are faced with the challenge of how to migrate from an aging to a millennial workforce. According to the United States Census, by the year 2030 all baby boomers will hit the retirement age of 65. This shift comes with a unique set of challenges, which must be addressed in order to ensure a smooth transition.
The first challenge is ensuring that the knowledge and experience of the baby boomers is not lost. With the boomer generation representing 31% of the US workforce, organizations can experience a hugely negative impact if boomers take their knowledge and expertise with them when they retire. That being said, as these employees leave the workforce, it is essential to capture their institutional knowledge so that it can be passed down to the next generations in the workforce. This can be done through mentorship programs, cross-training, and documentation.
The second challenge is managing expectations. Millennials have different expectations than their predecessors when it comes to work/life balance, job satisfaction, and career growth. Employers need to be aware of these differences and adjust their policies and practices accordingly. Millennials thrive on short-term goals with visible results and are often eager for new opportunities. This means organizations must enable their leadership teams to offer this new generation in the workforce with opportunities to develop new skills while providing the autonomy and flexibility to help them balance their personal and professional lives. Whether its flexible work schedules, additional days off, or remote work, the expectations around what makes a job or organization an attractive employer to this new generation of candidates differs from their predecessors. Organizations must shift from the traditional thinking of money as the primary motivation and incorporate new and exciting ways to retain and attract millennial talent in their workforce.
The third challenge is keeping up with technology. The workplace is constantly evolving, and employers need to make sure they are keeping up with the latest trends. Technology has revolutionized the way we work and connect, and while the older generations age out of the workforce, so do the manual and dated methods of working. As pioneers of the digital age millennials are constantly plugged into their devices, whether it be for personal use or work. According to a study by Gallup on how Millennials want to live and work, they have a strong preference for smartphones over other devices, with 85% consistently accessing the internet from their smartphone. Since they spend a large amount of their personal time on their smartphones, they expect to have access to work-related tasks from mobile devices as well. This includes everything from communication, training, feedback, and work processes.
This can be a difficult transition to manage as an organization, as there are often different values, work styles, and technological needs between the two generations. So, how do you go about making this shift successfully?
- Define the skills gap. The first step is to identify the specific skills that your organization will need in order to function effectively with a millennial workforce. This may include things like social media expertise, comfort with change, and adaptability. Once you have identified the skills gap, you can begin to develop a plan for how to fill it.
- Train your managers. It is important that your managers are prepared to manage a millennial workforce effectively. This means providing them with training on things like how to communicate with millennials, how to provide feedback, and how to manage expectations. Additionally, managers should be encouraged to give millennials opportunities to lead and take on responsibility. Known for having high levels of empathy, millennials need leaders who are approachable to guide and encourage them as opposed to exhibiting strong displays of power and authority and rigid protocols.
- Invest in technology. Most millennials are comfortable with technology and expect it to be integrated into their work lives. As such, it is important that your organization invest in the latest tools and systems. This will not only make millennials more productive, but it will also help your organization stay ahead of the curve. In a report by the Economist, employers that are considered pioneers at using mobile technology scored 16% higher when it comes to workplace productivity than those who are not.
Migrating from an aging workforce to a millennial one can be a challenge for any organization. However, by taking the time to define the skills gap, train your managers, and invest in technology, you can set your organization up for success during this transition. By taking steps to capture institutional knowledge, manage expectations, and stay up-to-date with technology, employers can ensure a smooth transition for both their business and their employees.