Are You Ready For the “Silver Tsunami”?

fasten-your-seat-belts-its-going-to-be-a-bumpy-night-quote-1

(photo credit: ‘All About Eve’, 1950)

As a card carrying member of the Silver Tsunami, I am quite aware of our aging workforce.  Just looking around my own organization, not only are there a lot of fellow Baby Boomers (born between 1946 – 1964), but we also employ a healthy share of Traditionalists (born between 1922 – 1943).

According to Arlene Hirsch in 4 Ways for HR to Overcome Aging Workforce Issues (SHRM 10.11.17), “Ten thousand Baby Boomers turn 65 every day—a trend that began in 2011 and will continue until 2030.  Despite their reputation for being workaholics, their average retirement age is 61 to 65, which means that the workplace needs to prepare for a veritable tidal wave of turnover (ergo, the Silver Tsunami).”

And as Bette Davis so poignantly once said, we’d better fasten our seat belts, because the bumpy night is now upon us, as millions of jobs will become available due to the Boomers retiring, and millions of new jobs will be created.  According to a Georgetown University report, the number of younger workers with education and skills to replace Boomers isn’t large enough or growing fast enough to make up for these departures.

Strategies to HELP!

One of the strategies we’ve employed is to offer flexible and part-time opportunities to employees who may otherwise have retired.  We continue the transfer of knowledge to other workers, so when someone wishes to totally retire, we’re better positioned to absorb that knowledge and skill impact.  Our organization’s culture is one which truly embraces the two most vulnerable generations, Baby Boomers and Traditionalists; this is due to a savvy and forward thinking top of the house.  Sadly, this thinking is not broadly practiced in most of today’s workplaces.  Unfortunately, just the opposite typically occurs.

Our CEO has a passion for developing emerging leaders in our organization, which also helps fortify us against these inevitable departures of older workers.  He actively reaches out and invites talented employees to meet with him as he helps to begin to hone their leadership skills and emotional intelligence.  He seeks out and provides opportunities both inside and outside the organization for these folks to learn and grow.  Admittedly, this might be a bit easier to accomplish in our small organization and a tad more challenging to pull off in a huge private sector employer.

Another strategy to consider is for a Baby Boomer to reach out and mentor someone (or two) in your organization.  You don’t need to wait for a formal mentoring program to be created.  In fact, research has shown formal mentoring programs to be ineffective; instead, the concept of having or being a mentor or buddy itself, is quite beneficial.  ‘Reverse mentoring’ where, for example, a Millennial mentors a Baby Boomer, instructing on new technology, software, etc. is a ‘two-fer’, i.e., both are learning from each other.

Challenge your Baby Boomers to be pro-active in sharing their knowledge and skills with younger workers.  Consider making it one of their SMART goals for the year.  Look to infuse these ‘exchanges’ in your project teams, research, presentations, reports, etc.  And finally, remember to recognize and reward your mentors, buddies, and coaches for their efforts.

Take Stock of Your Talent Portfolio

Take stock of your Baby Boomer talent.  Some you will want to retain, others, not so much.  For the ones you want to retain a bit longer, make it worth their while.  If their current workload is too great, reduce it or restructure the job so it’s more bearable. Utilize part-time, compressed, and alternative work schedules – pilot and experiment.  Consider hiring these folks seasonally or as on-call floaters – these folks’ pictures are in the dictionary next to the words, “on time”, “never takes a sick day”, “reliable” (you get my drift).  Take a look at how many hours one needs to work to become benefits-eligible.  Now is the time to take stock of your organization’s talent and see if there may be opportunities to re-balance your organization’s talent portfolio.

Good luck.

the HRMeister

Baby Boomers and Social Media

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facebook (Photo credit: sitmonkeysupreme)

A reader recently wrote:  “I’m a baby boomer, and have not yet embraced the use of social media at work or in my personal life.  Why should I?”

The HRmeister is glad you asked this question, which is not all that uncommon with a small (and shrinking) subset of baby boomers.

The good news about your question is that you have enough self-awareness to even ask this question.  The answer is, yes, you should learn about and use social media.  But, since you don’t (yet), don’t despair.  Many are discovering more and more applications available for social media in our work, careers, and in simply just keeping in touch with our friends and relatives.
First of all, it ain’t going away!  If you’re still in the workforce, dip your toe into the water with LinkedIn.com, a great tool for business professionals to network with new, current, and former colleagues all over the world.  You can also join interest groups, recruit applicants, and review companies’ job listings (to name a few).  It doesn’t replace face-to-face networking, but it certainly is a terrific complement.  If you wish to keep ‘up-to-date’ and demonstrate that you’re ‘relevant’ (and who doesn’t in this challenging economy), it’s essential that you learn about and use social media.
Want to keep in touch with some of your relatives or friends more often than just receiving their annual Christmas card?  Then check out Facebook.com.  You can start by reaching out and ‘connecting’ with just a couple of friends or relatives.  Similar to LinkedIn, Facebook is targeted to your ‘personal’ as opposed to your ‘business’ connections.
Once you’re comfortable with those, consider exploring Twitter.  There, you’ll learn to ‘tweet’ with the best of them.
See!  It’s not so scary after all, and I ‘ll bet you’ll look back and wonder why you waited so long to take the plunge.
Happy social networking!
The HRmeister

Just say, ‘No’!

Organization clears your path
Organization clears your path (Photo credit: nist6ss)

According to Alan Collins’ “The Greatest Free HR Time Management Tool Ever Invented – And 10 Ways to Use It! Success in HR 10.07.12 blog,

“Because if you don’t have it and use it, your time will absolutely get abused by other people.

And you won’t have the time to work on those BIG opportunities that can take your career to the next level.

So, it’s essential.  The amazing thing about this tool is that it won’t cost you a dime and you can start using it RIGHT NOW.

What is it?

Very simply, it’s called…

Saying NO!

I get it.

I understand.

Makes sense.

But…

Your time is the most valuable commodity you have.

It’s flattering to be the HR go-to person in your organization or in your area of expertise.

But the downside is that you can become so “popular” and “available” that you get buried with low-priority requests, busywork, and administrivia…and neglect doing the HR work that can truly move the business and your career forward.

If you truly find it tough to say NO, here is one secret…

It’s all about HOW you say it.
Not the fact you are saying NO.

The more ways you know HOW to say no, the better manager of your time you will become.”

The HRmeister would have us broaden Alan’s thinking, and expand his advice to any and all people leaders, as well as HR folks.

Alan continues: “You are not paid to say YES if it is taking you away from doing strategically important, high-impact or critical organization priorities.

You have to make trade-offs and take strong positions when it comes to protecting your precious minutes.  If you don’t communicate and train people on how to best utilize your time – it will get devoured like free food at a great restaurant.

So, start saying NO more often.

You’ll be surprised when the reception isn’t half as bad as what you thought it to be.

You’ll have more time for yourself.

You’ll have time for those things most important to you.

You’ll be a hell of a lot happier and less stressed.

You’ll get more of the important work accomplished.

And that’s what it’s all about.

Onward!

Good luck.”

Thoughts?

The HRmeister

Reference Checking – Is it a Lost Art?

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Do you check the references of someone you’re about to hire?  Or do you give up after you’ve only been able to obtain the candidate’s job title and length of service?

In Inc., Laura Smoliar in ‘Entrepreneurship for the Rest of Us’ on September 20, 2012 writes:

“No one wants to give a bad reference. For one thing, people do not want to be sued! You may think that calling every reference on a list means you’ve been diligent, but are you digging enough to get past the surface veneer? Open-ended questions, such as these, can uncover a variety of troublesome behaviors, not matter what their cause:

  • Tell me about a time when the candidate had a conflict with a co-worker. How did the situation unfold?
  • What kind of schedule did the candidate keep? Did co-workers ever have trouble working with him or her because of schedule issues? Tell me about a time when this was a problem.
  • Tell me about a time when the candidate surprised you. What were the circumstances? What did he/she do?
  • If you were to hire the candidate again, what role do you think would be ideal? What role would not be a good fit, and why?
  • We all get frustrated with each other from time to time. Tell me about a time you were really frustrated with the candidate.
  • In which situations does the candidate really shine? Tell me about an example.

I have also learned to listen for euphemisms. If former colleagues describe someone as “erratic,” that could indicate a more serious problem.

Find third-party references. Can you talk to someone who hasn’t been prepped to be a reference for your candidate? If you can, you are more likely to get a spontaneous answer to your questions rather than a polished, prepared one. Some companies have policies against giving references beyond confirming dates of employment, so finding someone who has moved on to another job since working with your candidate can often be a better source of information. Find out how your candidate interacted with colleagues. Was he or she a team player, prima donna, or lone wolf?

Why did your candidate leave each position listed on the resumé? This is a key question, especially for someone with a lot of job changes. In the “old days,” a series of job changes was a red flag for a serious problem. If someone hopped from job to job, you wondered if he or she had trouble getting along with others. Now, you could just be interviewing a hot software engineer who legitimately jumps at new opportunities every year (or less!).”

The HRmeister recommends that you probe those you are lucky enough to get to talk to you about your candidate.  Back in the day, I remember calling the former manager of a candidate for a reference.  He replied that his company had a policy against his supplying any information.  He added that he did not believe that it prevented him from asking me a question.  Thinking that to be an odd response, I decided to play along.  He said his one question for me was, “Did the candidate list me (him) as a reference”?  I quickly got his drift, and thanked him for asking me a question, and hung up.  The candidate had already supplied me with a list of references.  This man, her most recent manager from her previous company, was not listed.  Needless to say, we did not hire this candidate.

What’s Your Personal Brand?

Same Old Brand New You
Same Old Brand New You (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gone are the days of thinking of a personal brand as something only to do with marketing a product.  Today, we all are building our ‘personal brand’, whether we know (or like) it or not.

Careers — By Chris Saffer on August 15, 2012 9:15 am writes:

“With branding, you promote yourself to attract even more opportunities to talk about yourself to others. You find opportunities to tell your story, give your pitch, and let people see what makes you special. The two things that you will need to be especially passionate about are who you are and the work you do.

Developing your brand and standing apart from the crowd is critical in this changing employment environment where technical workers are often more knowledgeable about their field than their CEOs or leaders are. It is therefore important that you discover ways to define the key value that you bring to corporations and to develop strategies to communicate this value personally both within and across organizations to manage your brand effectively over time.

Defining your brand. Defining your brand is the first step in developing a sales and marketing plan for your defining qualities.

This sales experience prepares you for life as a professional, during which you must sell your value, such as gaining entrance to a good school or college, acquiring the position that you desire, or getting a good deal on a house or car. Once you get past the fear of selling, you will be able to focus on your strengths, communicate your value, and sell your brand to the world. The key to being effective in any role is the ability to influence how others perceive you.”

How/what are you doing to build your ‘personal brand’?

The HRmeister

Lunch Break – To Have or Have Not

lunch-2007-04-03a
lunch-2007-04-03a (Photo credit: flakyredhead)

Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer | LiveScience.com – Mon, Aug 13, 2012, writes:

“When’s the last time you left your desk and took a real lunch break?

For many workers, the answer is “not recently,” a trend driven by a bad economy and high workplace expectations, researchers say. A recent McDonald’s ad campaign even took advantage of lunch break dissatisfaction with a series of commercials telling workers, “It’s your lunch. Take it.”

Although there are no national statistics on lunch breaks, small-scale surveys find that up to two-thirds of workers skip lunch or eat lunch at their desks.

Lost lunch breaks

Skipped lunch breaks are a growing trend, said Danielle Hartmann, the director for corporate partnerships at Boston College’s Center for Work & Family.

“I think the expectation is that more people are expected to work more with less,” Hartmann told LiveScience. “Workloads have been exceptionally high and people don’t feel like they can take the time to eat.” [7 Perfect Survival Foods]

A survey by CareerBuilder released in 2010 found that 18 percent of workers report always eating at their desks and 16 percent said they skipped lunch in favor of work. A third of employees surveyed said that they did take lunch, but spent less than 30 minutes eating. Likewise, a 2011 online survey by workplace consulting group Right Management found that 34 percent of North American workers said they ate at their desks, and 31 percent said they occasionally, rarely or never took lunch.

“Many of the organizations have been downsized, and as a result, folks have significantly more responsibility,” said Ron Sims, a vice president at Right Management. “They don’t want to be seen as somebody who is not fully contributing.”

Benefits of breaks

Research on call-center workers and software developers, two very different job types, has found benefits to taking breaks throughout the day, Rothbard said. What you do on these breaks mattered, she added. Anything replenishing, such as relaxing or socializing (if enjoyable), tends to lend people renewed vigor for the post-break stretch. Running around trying to cram in extra errands or chores, on the other hand, does little for afternoon productivity. [7 Things That Will Make You Happy]

The benefits of breaks range from ergonomic (getting out of your chair occasionally is good for the body) to professional (chatting with co-workers at lunch can spark new camaraderie and collaborations), Boston College’s Hartmann said.

Taking back lunch

There are no federal requirements for lunch breaks, though many states have laws that require meal breaks for hourly workers. Many salaried employees are not covered by these laws.

Nevertheless, some companies are seeing the benefit of encouraging lunch breaks, Hartmann said. She works with several companies that have started encouraging employees to hit the dining hall or the fitness center during lunch hour as a way to promote health and creativity.

The HRmeister: Do you take a lunch break?  Why or why not?  Do you see any ties to the level of engagement of your employees with regard to whether or not they take a lunch break?

Thoughts?

Job Fairs- What’s Your ROI Been?

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Today, I had the opportunity to participate in a local job fair, hosted by our area’s two US congressmen.  Turnout was unbelievable, even though our local unemployment is better than the national average, but you’d never know it by the size of this crowd.

Question: How successful have you been with hiring from a job fair?  Typically, attendees canvass the room, hoping to identify a few employers who will offer an opportunity that peaks their interest.

Whether you take a resume or instruct them to apply online,  what’s the likelihood that an employer actually gives the resume/application more than a cursory look, let alone invite them to either a phone-based or in-person interview?

My experience is that one would need to collect a good deal (at least a 3 to 1 ratio) of resumes/applications of job fair-goers, and have them successfully pass a potential phone screen and any applicable assessment tests, before they would clear the hurdle of receiving the much coveted in-person interview.

Then, the applicant will need to clear the hurdle of at least one in-person interview before one could expect to receive a job offer – provided background and other pre-employment tests are passed.

Whew!  Isn’t it amazing anyone gets hired?  Yet, today, given our challenging economy, depending on how many job fair applicants we hire, it actually could prove to be a very cost-effective hiring method.

What do you think?

The HRmeister