Take a look at your workforce. If it looks like most workplaces, many of your most experienced and knowledgeable employees have already retired or are getting ready to retire. The first of the baby boomers turned 65 in 2011 and the exodus began. Employers need to start thinking about the strategy they will use as more of these employees leave the workforce.
Before you decide you don’t need to worry about this, here are some facts to consider:
- Wisconsin’s workforce is aging. During the 2014 census, it was estimated that almost 15% of Wisconsin’s population is over the age of 65. This number is expected to increase to over 17% by 2020 and over 22% by 2035, as older people live longer and Boomers move fully into retirement. (Source: https://www.dane-econdev.org/documents/pdf/Wisconsin_Population_2035.pdf )
- Today’s employment market is already experiencing labor shortages. These labor shortages are occurring as mass amounts of people continue to retire and are more obvious in manufacturing sectors, as new workers entering the workforce are less and less interested in manufacturing type jobs.
- Contrary to popular belief, our workforce is not going to shrink in numbers. However, our workforce will shrink relative to the needs of our growing and aging population.
- Our economies, both local and global, will continue to experience a shortage of quality and experienced workers.
- The demand for services will increase and the demand for other goods and services will shift to meet the changing needs of our aging population.
Still think you can wait? Think again. This issue is less about the numbers and more about retaining the knowledge and experience of exiting workers. Employers today are not just losing “a body” – they are losing subject matter experts, mentors and trainers. They are losing history as these people leave the workforce and this undocumented knowledge base and perspective is difficult to replace.
The impact to Waukesha and Milwaukee County employers, especially those in the manufacturing sectors, is great. Millennial candidates interested in manufacturing jobs seem few and far between and those that are retiring cannot wait until a replacement is found before leaving their positions. This leaves employers without any transition and new workers without anyone to train them. Lack of training can cause frustration and frustration can lead to turnover. The cycle continues.
It is important to understand your workforce and what it looks like today. Many employers complain that the next generation of workers lacks loyalty. We would argue that it is not loyalty that is lacking, but rather an understanding of this generation’s value system. They, in general, are not looking for lifetime employment. They are looking for opportunities to learn and grow, and then move on and apply what was learned to the next opportunity. This is an excellent scenario for companies that value and encourage career pathing and growth. For those that don’t, today’s workforce will simply move on to go work someplace else.
Our job as employers is to redefine the workplace and re-position ourselves as employers of choice. Companies need to look to non-traditional means of compensating, recruiting and retaining employees. They need to make manufacturing jobs more appealing and plan long term. Companies that offer such things as flexible schedules, benefits for part-time employees and on-the-job training will be better prepared during this time of transition. Companies need to understand the concept of transferable skills and be able to utilize employees in different capacities—such as mentoring, consulting or teaching—to best utilize their skills and experiences for the good of the organization. Employers need to be creative and take some risks. Only these employers will succeed in the marketplace of tomorrow.
While all of these issues can be a bit overwhelming, they are also signs of great change, growth and innovation. The challenge for employers will be to choose to hop on and ride the wave of change, rather than getting swallowed by it.
An award-winning staffing expert in Southeastern Wisconsin in manufacturing, clerical, professional and light industrial placements, Nissen Staffing Continuum is proud of our commitment to providing human capital solutions to our clients, while assisting our associates in meeting their career objectives and delivering staffing services where we can create and grow value. As your strategic partner, we’ll help you take your staffing initiatives to the next level, whether it’s onsite programs, direct hire placement, temp-to-hire programs or temporary staffing. Our recruiters are supported by a full-time sourcing department dedicated to finding great employees for our clients. For more information about how we can help you find great employees, contact us today and allow us to help you with your HR needs so you can focus on your company’s success!