Empower the Next Generation

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As older generations retire and leave the workforce, they take unique sets of skills and knowledge with them. CW Executive Editor Natasha Nicholson spoke with generational communication expert Lynne Lancaster, co-founder of the consulting firm BridgeWorks, about innovative ways that companies can avoid talent shortages and preserve institutional knowledge.

Natasha Nicholson: What does today’s workforce look like, in terms of generational makeup? What changes do you see on the horizon, and what do they mean for companies in the next five to 10 years?

Lynne Lancaster: Currently, we have four generations in the U.S. workforce, all of them in motion. Members of the Traditionalist generation, born prior to 1946, have largely retired, with 10 to 15 percent still in the full-time workforce. But the interesting trend is that many Traditionalists are going back to work after formal retirement. They are healthy, have a lot to give and are worried about outliving their savings. Companies are recognizing they still need the wisdom and experience of this generation and are hiring them back on a part-time or contract basis.

The 80 million members of the baby boom generation, born between 1946 and 1964, are in motion as well. They are hitting major life landmarks and beginning to look toward retirement. As those 80 million boomers retire, companies could face a major “brain drain” as so many senior and skilled workers walk out the door.

Companies have to start thinking now about how they intend to fill the gaps left by retiring boomers. This is going to mean putting a real focus on workforce planning. Many organizations don’t have enough bench strength to replace the boomers, and will have to think about how to attract the next generation of employees and how to convince boomers to stay on a bit longer. Another generation in motion is the 46 million-member Generation X group, born between 1965 and 1981.

Read the full interview from Communication World.

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