In a year that’s bursting with headline-grabbing news for companies large and small, an important historical transformation continues to unfold. Baby Boomers — the generation synonymous with post World War II US economic expansion and world-class productivity are leaving the workforce in ever-increasing numbers

And so, as Bob Dylan wrote once wrote more than 50 years ago, “the times they are a changing.” The generation that was once embodied by the Jack Weinberg phrase “don’t trust anyone over 30” is now more than twice that age. Even as their children are now rounding that milestone.

In 2015, Americans turning 65 were born in 1950 — the decade that marks the demographic heart of the Baby Boom generation. Boomers came into this world with a bang and are poised to retire; it seems, with an equally outsized impact. That’s because at 76 million strong and nearly 25% of the US population, Baby Boomers continue to make a major contribution in a workforce undergoing historic change. Now moving beyond their peak income earning (and spending) years this generation has been a source of workplace continuity for decades. While this “continuity” has both good and negative aspects, the reality is that the current scale of workplace change is unprecedented.

As a driver of innovation, change and economic strength, this is a generation whose delayed retirement has slowed the opening of new positions for a younger cohort. Companies are faced with the challenge of integrating several generations successfully, while leveraging their collective talents and at the same time planning for the mass Boomer workforce exodus that is only just beginning. Not only must companies cultivate an environment that enables cross – generational collaboration, they must ensure that Generation X, Millennials and Gen Z’ers,(children born in the mid ‘90s) develop the capabilities necessary to succeed.

 

Forever young — innovation for any age

Thus, organizations who understand their demographics, that take the time to recognize and appreciate differences, who explore with individuals and teams their preferences and ways to leverage collective potential, will win big in the race for superior employee engagement and performance.

Yet even with the stakes this high, it’s disheartening to learn that many companies are coming up short. According to the findings of on an online assessment tool created by SMART Technologies, an organization known for creating interactive business solutions, less than 14% of companies surveyed are establishing fully collaborative cultures.

Given the important race for talent and the risk of inter-generational challenges as organizations continue to reach for superior performance, failure to resolve these issues is not an option.

As you assess opportunities to increase productivity, you might consider this leadership checklist:

  • What is the impact of changing demographics on your organization?
  • What process do you have in place to gain insight and understand generational needs?
  • Do you have a process in place that leverages the business knowledge and innovation, which each generation brings?
  • Is your workforce collaborating and coordinating to maximize performance? To realize their true potential?
  • Are there “hidden” issues or demographic “differences” constraining performance?
  • Are you at risk of losing talent due to lack of engagement, frustration or misunderstanding?

What the above questions come down to is this: Are you investing in what’s arguably your company’s greatest asset — its people?

If not, then returning to Sixties sage Bob Dylan, it’s time to “admit that the waters around you have grown and accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone. If your time to you is worth savin’ then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone.”

If you think you and your team could benefit from an organizational health assessment and the opportunity to achieve breakthrough results through coaching and leveraging superior teamwork, please contact us for a free consultation at advantagedleadership.com.

As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “To reach a port, we must set sail…Sail, not tie at anchor… Sail, not drift.“

As the tide turns, are you ready to set sail!

Those who do will benefit from the opportunities which these changing times represent.

 

References:

Barkley, Warren. Millennials Bring Collaboration to Companies, Ready or Not

Casselman, Ben. What Baby Boomers’ Retirement Means For The U.S. Economy

Stahl, Ashley. Managing Millennials: Six Musts For CEOs Who Want To Get Ahead

 

Photo by Stuart Miles.