Volume 8 | Issue 6 | Year 2005

The most recent U.S. Census indicates that over the next several years, as so-called baby boomers retire, a disproportionately large number of workers will partially or fully separate from work and demand for qualified workers will rise rapidly.However, the profile of younger workers is substantially different from the older workers they are replacing and with whom companies have become comfortable. According to a comprehensive study of the American workforce titled “The New Employee/Employer Equation” and undertaken by The Concours Group and Age Wave, tomorrow’s leaders are uncommitted to their work and often are a negative influence in the work environment. At the same time, older workers who are on a road to retirement are blossoming and showing a can-do attitude on the job. Employers may be forced to bring back retirees to fill demand.

“We’ve been living through a silent expulsion of older workers from the professional ranks the last 20 years. It’s really ironic that this may be the very same population that is going to bail out corporations in dire need of talent in the years ahead,” said Dr. Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave.

The study concluded that corporate America is not aligned with the needs and requirements of the new, increasingly diverse American workforce. To be successful in the future, organizations will have to work differently and harder to develop younger workers into competent and engaged professionals. This likely includes radical changes to compensation and benefit programs. In addition, companies will need to tap into workers who have reached and exceeded the traditional retirement age in order to meet labor demand.

The current profile
In analyzing the study results, the Concours/Age Wave team uncovered six distinct profiles that together constitute the entire American workforce:
Self-Empowered Innovators: Hard-working, entrepreneurial, well educated and self-empowered, they are looking for work that continues to empower and stimulate them, enables them to continue to learn and grow, and has greater social purpose.
Fair & Square Traditionalists: Highly reliable, loyal, traditional workers who seek traditional rewards from their work. With below-average educations and above average incomes, they seek stable and secure environments, have the longest average tenure and are highly engaged.

Accomplished Contributors: With an emphasis on contribution, this group sees itself as loyal, hard-working, reliable, and capable. They seek personally stimulating work that allows them to learn and grow. They have a very positive view of their employer, workplace and colleagues.

Maverick Morphers: Confident, intellectually curious workers with a high-energy drive and unending ability to raise their personal achievement bar, this group continually brings innovation to the workplace. Members seek new ways to work or new technologies that increase productivity and communication.

Stalled Survivors: The youngest workforce segment looks for employers who can make it easier to cope with what they perceive to be stressful lives with too many demands. This group wants the full menu of company benefits and work environments that are fun. For them work today is a source of livelihood but not yet (or not currently) a very satisfying part of their lives.

Demanding Disconnects: This group holds the distinction of being the least satisfied and least productive segment of the workforce. Although they demand a wide range of benefits, they bring very little energy or commitment to the table. These are often mid-career professionals who feel dead-ended and want their employers to step up and make things better. Individuals in the group view work as generally frustrating and see its value largely in terms of near-term economic gain.

How do companies contend with these six very different profiles?

“Work plays different roles in peoples’ lives,” said Tamara Erickson of the Concours Group. “Employees in each of these segments want different things.”

Researchers found that paying a worker more money does not, by itself, produce higher engagement levels. Reasons that people feel engaged by their work vary from one segment to another.

Among the lessons for employers are that they must target segments that are best suited to the nature of the work within their business and create powerful employer brands to attract the desired talent. They must adjust work situations to bring out the best in terms of engagement and performance.

“What we don’t know yet, but need to work on immediately, is whether it’s possible to migrate workers from a less desirable profile to one that is more desirable and more productive,” said Tamara Erickson. “Industry has more tools and more data than ever before. We know what the problem is. How acute will we be at addressing and reversing the problem?”

Under the leadership of Founder Dr. Ken Dychtwald, Age Wave guides Fortune 500 companies and governments in product/service development for boomers and mature adults. Visit: www.agewave.com. The Concours Group works with senior executives to master critical issues in management. Visit: www.concoursgroup.com.