Feature Article - July/August 2008

Engaging a Multi-Generational Workforce

Is Your Company Ready for the Challenge?

By Catherine Eberlein Pfister

In today's business landscape there is an increasing connection between a company's financial performance and its overall ability to recruit, engage and retain its employees.

This issue of Premium Incentive Products looks at the changing multigenerational workforce and what this means in developing effective recognition and reward programs.

In coming months we'll look at other employee engagement business strategies, including how multicultural workforces are changing the employee landscape and what a global workforce means to incentive development and management.

Engaging a Multi-Generational Workforce
Is Your Company Ready for the Challenge?

midst coverage of the sinking economy and rising unemployment rates, it may seem counterintuitive that our country is facing a very real shortage of skilled and talented workers.

This shortage, in fact, has become the most pressing concern among employers (even topping the rising cost of health care) according to the "14th Annual Top Five Total Rewards Priorities" survey conducted by Deloitte Consulting and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefits Specialists.

Other studies bear this out, but also point to the fact that companies aren't doing much about it. A 2008 study by Stanton Chase International called "Business Implications of the New Reality" reported that 94 percent of the 37,000 surveyed executives and managers believe there is a talent shortage, and 79 percent believe there is a moderate to significant gap between retiring baby boomers and younger generations when it comes to qualified leadership talent. Yet just 18 percent said their company had a plan in place.

Companies are losing leaders at a much faster pace than they are producing them, say Douglas R. Ready and Jay A. Conger, co-authors of a recent MIT Sloan Management Review article titled "How to Fill the Talent Gap." "More than 30 million managers and leaders will be retiring within the next five years," they report.

Another wrinkle they note is that the downsizing tactics used to gain operating and cost efficiencies during the 1990s have stripped management layers. As a result, "these lean organizations cut out many of the developmental opportunities for next-generation leaders," Ready and Conger write. "So there are fewer and fewer candidates ready to step into crucial management roles as older managers retire."