The following is an approximate transcript.
Heather: Hello and thank you for joining Episode 36 of Talent Connection, a podcast about connecting job seekers and employers, produced by Cachinko. My name is Heather Huhman, and I am the founder & president of Come Recommended, as well as the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Cachinko. I’m joined by my co-host, Tony Morrison.
Tony: Thank you and good morning Heather. Good to be with you again! As Heather mentioned, my name is Tony Morrison, and I am the vice president of business development for Cachinko. We operate a free job matching and career networking application on Facebook. Our goal is to help job seekers find jobs they’ll love, the companies that interest them, and help companies find rock star candidates. We offer a number of online recruiting solutions that focus on helping job seekers get connected to companies.
Heather: Today’s episode is “The Hourglass Workforce Model.” Let’s get started, Tony In your opinion, how is the workforce comprised today among the 3 generations of workers: Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials?
Tony: This has been something we’ve talked about for a while, you know we have this regular Thursday morning rant, and this comes up frequently. But I think the workforce is comprised of three basic segments right now. The Baby Boomers are exiting over the next three to five years. The Gen Xers are right in the middle of that organizational chart, and below that are the incoming Millennials bringing in new skills and new ideas. The Boomers they total about 81 million now. Gen Xers about 46 million, and equal to the Boomers are the entry-level Millennials come in at about 85 million. So this is where I come up with this “Hourglass Model” for the workforce. Recently people have been describing this geometric shape of the workforce where you have a large number of younger generations coming in and taking jobs. So you had a smaller population of older workers in the workforce that would be exiting and it was plenty of new talent to fill those positions. That was the pyramid shape. Recently in a Harvard Business Review article by Tammy Erickson she mentioned the inverted pyramid or the diamond shape. I think the geometric shape is the hourglass. You have a lot of older generation in the workforce, and you have a smaller mid-level Gen Xer workforce, and then you have a much larger Millennial workforce coming in and hungry for new positions.
Heather: Absolutely, So how will talent communities influence the “hourglass” workforce model currently taking shape?
Tony: As you know, Cachinko’s been talking about talent communities for a long time. We define talent communities in wikipedia and we believe it’s the mutual beneficial interaction between employers and the skill that’s out there. One of my colleagues describes this as building a strong bench for employers. Employers, who are in-tune with what their organizational needs are, know where their skills gap lie. They’ve done the gap analysis. They understand how to do the performance calibration for their organization as well as their people. They are thinking about what skills are necessary for their organization to grow, not just for the exiting workforce but where is the company going to go in the future. They’re building a strong bench in their organizations by looking for that talent and distilling the talent from their job applications, and the people they meet when they’re networking at various trade shows and on forums. They’re distilling this talent into talent communities or networks. I think the talent communities are an essential part of retaining the connections you make with people outside of the workforce, building that strong bench for the organization to grow in the future, and also it’s a way to retain connections with alumni in the organization. You’ve got alumni, people who are exiting the organization that may not want to leave the company. They may want to stay on in a semi-retired state, or they may want to come back as a consultant and continue their mission at the company. People don’t want to leave their work as early as they used to. I think the new retirement age is around 70, and there are others that want to continue to do what they’ve done for so long, and they’re so passionate about it, that if the company were retaining the connections with the older workforce, the older generation, instead of letting them leave and never come back, they would be able to build a mentorship program with the incoming Millennial generation. That will help to build continuity in the organizational culture, and also continuity among the skill sets, as they’d be able to train the younger generation into small of the skills necessary for the organization to grow.
Heather: Can talent communities effectively reach out to the baby boomer generation, who are staying in the workplace much longer than they used to?
Tony: They are, the older generation is staying a lot longer. Some of it’s because of their retirement being wiped out in the last economic downturn, and it’s not going to recover fast enough for them to gain their retirement. So they will stick around longer, but they’ll stick around happily because they do enjoy working. Another thing I think has forced this hourglass workforce is that with the economic downturn, companies have learned to do more with less. They’ve taken away their headcount. They’ve learned to do so much more with less; they’ve made these impossible job descriptions where job postings are going out with a job description comprises 3-4 positions. Many of the retained workforce has taken on all of this additional responsibility. There is no way the Millennial generation, no matter how talented they are, no matter how book smart they are, will have the experience necessary to fill all of those roles as well as the people that have 10, 15, 20 years of experience. So the skills gap, and the lack of experience, is going to become very apparent. And I think another reason the mentorship model that I’ve proposed is so valuable to large workforces especially. Even then those individuals leaving the work force that might want to try something new can always work with a startup or a small business and help them to encourage the younger generation to come in, and almost hit the ground running. Because they’ll have the experience and the confidence of someone with the experience supporting them in their new roles.
Heather: Speaking of a skills gap, how can HR bridge the skills gap between the Baby Boomer and Millennial generation specifically using talent communities?
Tony: The simplest way is talk, engage, get to know these people. You have to understand who the whole person is. Bring them into your company culture, explain the values of the organization, align yourself with the values, and those people that believe what you believe, and feel what you feel and are passionate about what the company is doing, they are going to stay with you. They are going to hold onto that connection and they’ll eventually find opportunities that are exactly what they want. They’ll be excited to stay with your organization. It takes time to build credibility with a person just like it takes time for a person to build credibility with an organization. They’re not going to be trusted the minute they walk into the organization. That onboarding process, and probationary period, the reason it’s called a probationary period is because they want to get to know the worker and make sure that they’re aligned with the company’s needs, as well as the companies culture. So take time to build that trust, but do it before you need that workforce. If you are recruiting when the position has become vacant it’s too late. You need to recruit before you have an open position, so you’re able to fill that position quickly.
Heather: Absolutely, you’re right about that. Speaking of all of these roles Baby Boomers can come back and fill, how can HR create a role that will utilize these Baby Boomers expertise?
Tony: Through mentorship, provide a mentor program where you are training your exiting workforce to come back on a consultant basis. Could be someone in finance, or someone in engineering. Be able to put them in a position where they are training the incoming workforce. I’ve seen this in one company, and I have a lot of respect for them. It’s a small oil company, that specializes in off-shore drilling and they work with a number of crews. These are geological physicists. They have a specialized skill set. So what they did in their HR program was bring in one of their best geological physicists to be a part of the HR department and recruiting process, and he is responsible for all of the onboarding. He has a great personality, knows all of the people out there, he networks well with everyone, he lets them know they’re putting new crews together. He brings the passion, experience, and drive, and understands the culture. He’s been with the company for so long, he’s their best sales person. I think that’s a great way to bring new talent in when you have someone so passionate about your company, that they will help to welcome and indoctrinate a person into the company’s culture, and teach them their skill set.
Heather: Thanks so much, Tony. That’s all the time we have for today. You’ve been listening to Talent Connection, a podcast about connecting job seekers and employers, produced by Cachinko. For details about the next episode, please visit blog.cachinko.com.