Monday, 10 June 2019

Tick, tock, tick, tock

If I see one more treatise on the importance of - or tips for - engaging millennials, I may well scream. Not just because of the sweeping generalisation it implies, but because this rush to embrace more youthful segments of our workforce seems to ignore the fact we have an ageing one.

This brings to mind a Unum infographic from several years ago, which collated statistics on this issue in the UK. I remember the key ones: by 2020, employees aged over 50 will make up 1/3 of the working population and at least 20% of employees are now not planning to retire until 70+.  

So why is there currently so much emphasis on millennials and scant discussion of strategies for engaging older workers?

The cynic in me suggests that much of the commentary generated around millennials centres on new tools or platforms for which the generalisation provides a convenient sales hook (I know, shame on me). And I do think we’re risking missing out.

We need to take a broader approach – and that doesn’t mean inventing a new label, whatever the equivalent of ‘silver surfer’ might be in a company context. It means building more in-depth understanding of what our employees need. Some of our older workers will shame the most whizzy of technical wizz kidz with their knowledge of tools and platforms, others will be the other end of the spectrum. Funnily enough, the same will apply to millennials. So let’s look deeper than those labels at the needs and issues for the employee groups in our particular audiences. Some sophisticated planning and discussion around how organisations can continue to engage all segments of the workforce.

But at least recognising that we have an issue at one end of the age range, equivalent to (and maybe even greater than) those at the other end of the spectrum, would be a good starting point. 

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