I’m not trying to cause a big sensation….
So I’m a bit of a geek. I get it and I’m ok with it. Although being a geek I should be able to do technical stuff, which I clearly can’t…which makes me somewhat of a Luddite geek, if that isn’t an oxymoron. I’ve written before about demography, because a) as I said, I’m a geek b) it interests me and c) it is incredibly important and much overlooked.
If you explore the blogosphere and the journals over the past few years, you’d be excused for thinking that there was only one generation that we needed to worry about, the aptly named Generation Y. But our organisations are stacked with people from across the generations, with different needs and requirements and with different hopes and aspirations. Yet 9 times out of 10 we deal with them as a homogenous mass taking no account of the stage of life or individual aspirations. Ok, so I know I run the risk here of being labelled as stereotyping, “not all people close to retirement just want to work their last years in peace” or “not all young people are ambitious and wanting to progress”. I get that, but then treating people the same isn’t any better either.
We do it because of the concerns around discrimination, but exactly through our attempts to be seen to be whiter than white we inevitably discriminate against people, maybe not illegally but certainly inappropriately. Addressing different demographic groups within our workforce and tailoring our offer to meed their needs will be an essential element to the retention of key individuals.
– Do your talent management programmes recognise the ebb and flow of the life cycle? Do they allow for parents to have children but then continue to progress their careers at a time that is right for them, in a way that means they can make a valuable contribution and manage to balance work and life?
– Do your compensation packages recognise that those earlier in their careers are more motivated by increasing their base salary whereas those later on may be more inclined to think about pension contributions, PHI cover and life assurance? Is reward ultimately service driven and does this lead to retention issues amongst newer staff?
– Does your development offering focus on the different learning styles that different generation have based on their educational background? Do you focus your offer on different phases of the human life cycle or do you only focus on employee life cycle?
Focus on the shifting demographic profile of our work places is going to become even more crucial as retirement is pushed later and later, as third and fourth generation immigrant families, with different value sets, become a regular part of the workforce, as lifestyle choices become wider and wider and the differences between being directly employed or self-employed become less and less.
It may make you a geek to start talking about it, we all have a bit of that inside us. But if it makes a difference for your business and your workforce, then surely it has to be worth it?