How Staying Employed For Life Changes HR’s Approach To The Future Of Work

April 8, 2015

When I was growing up, a part of the great American dream was to retire with a big pile of cash at the age of 55. And for many, this was a reality – even for my own grandfather. However, multigenerational workforcethis is definitely not the case for the majority of today’s Baby Boomers. Now, more Americans are working past age 65.

A recent Transamerica survey revealed that 65% of boomers plan to work after age 65 or don’t plan to retire at all. And several other surveys have echoed the same sentiment. Given the widespread concern over dismal retirement savings and expensive healthcare coverage, this finding is not really surprising. Plus, we’re living longer than ever before and staying vibrant and active well into our 90s. And as science continues to progress, we may even live beyond 100 years.

However, the changing notion of retirement does present an interesting situation to businesses worldwide. How do you support a workforce comprising 3, 4, or even 5 generations – each with their own expectations, approaches, and goals?

The new HR dilemma: An increasingly multigenerational workforce

According to Dr. Tracey Wilen, prominent thought leader, author, and speaker in the world of work and careers, “Each generation brings new expectations about work. Today, life is much more integrated than in the past. There is a desire for people to contribute, feel like they are accomplishing something at work, be noticed for their accomplishments, and have flexibility to obtain skills while living an integrated life. At the same time, employees are looking for firms that not only make products and services that they value, but also embrace and give back to the community.”

As a result, businesses must reexamine their approach to diversity and development. In addition to gender, race, religious affiliation, and sexual orientation, HR must also take into account each generation’s expectations, goals, interests, values, motivations, personalities, learning styles, and comfort in using technology.

5 ways HR can prepare for a workforce that is staying employed for life

Luckily, there are a number of companies that are successfully creating a workplace culture that is addressing the needs of their workforce – embracing each generation’s personal goals, lifestyles, and values.

According to the Center for Business Insight inquiry How to Fix the Crisis in Employee Engagement,” there are five ways that these companies are doing just that.

  1. Intergenerational learning. American Express piloted a phased retirement program to allow select senior COBOL programmers to work part time so that they could train younger programmers and act as mentors and coaches.

  1. Flexible workplace. CVS Pharmacy’s snowbird program gives its pharmacists and the rest of its employees the ability to relocate on a seasonal basis. This enables its people to work in different stores at the same role – just at a warmer (and hopefully sunnier) location during winter months.

  1. Peer recognition, amplified. Macy’s implemented an in-house portal for retail associates to post stories celebrating their peers’ successes. With recognition occurring at store, regional, and national levels, employees of all generations are reported to be more engaged and providing unparalleled customer service.

  1. Purpose and public service. A number of companies are offering meaningful sabbatical programs for top talent, giving them an opportunity to work on pro bono projects in developing countries. As a result, employees are given a chance to apply their technical and management skills outside the office and see how it can make a significant change in people’s lives and even whole societies.

  1. Cultivating career paths. After ending its forced ranking system, HP now judges employee performance based on the viewpoint of its customers, emphasizes internal candidates for open positions, and trains managers and employees in an in-house “university.”

Hear more about what Dr. Tracey Wilen has to say about the Future of Work. Attend SAPPHIRE NOW and join in the discussion. In the meantime, you can listen to the podcast below to hear some of her perspectives now.

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