The Aging Workforce as the HR Challenge

The aging workforce is a hot topic for all businesses, and it represents a major HR challenge coming shortly. Most countries still do not feel the pressure (Japan and Italy are the exceptions at the moment), but the shortage of young talents will be a significant risk for most developed countries. There will be no young university graduates available on the job market (even the youth unemployment rate will stay high). Human Resources will have to keep creative ways how to maintain the organization efficient, productive and innovative.

The aging population is a challenge for the entire society. It will be a dramatic change for everyone. Our social and medical networks will be under huge pressure to deliver services. The businesses will suffer from the shortage of the workforce. They will have to explore all opportunities how to keep older employees productive and fully engaged in the life of the organization.

The market uncertainty does not support values of the aging workforce. The older employees do not like dramatic changes in the work habits; they want to be sure that they are perfect. They want to stay perfect and productive. They want to be beneficial for the organization. They can block necessary changes because they are afraid they will fail. Keeping employee engagement in the turbulent business world will be a major challenge for Human Resources.

The older employees value the stability of the job and work environment. They do not welcome dramatic changes to their work habits. They prefer long and stable relationships. However, the modern business in the competitive environment requires dramatic shifts and changes. Human Resources has to find a way how to unblock changes without losing employee engagement and loyalty.

The aging employees always value the stable environment; the HR challenge is how to keep the change momentum in the organization. Innovations are the only way how the western business can win over its rivals from developing countries. Human Resources has to identify the potential how to make the older workforce keep its enthusiasm to push changes forward.

The younger workforce also misses some technical skills and competencies. They prefer soft-skills business areas like social media, finance or HR. They do not like to be in Operations because they lack logistics and production skills. This will be a major challenge as many businesses are re-opening their operation plants in western countries. The support of technical expertise and competencies will be a task for Human Resources shortly.

Human Resources has to conduct the detailed workforce analysis. It should understand what skills and competencies will be lost without any leadership and managerial action. It has to prepare the plan how to keep know-how and critical skills in the organization. It has to develop the plan what skills and competencies will be lost, and the management has to find a solution not to lose the ability to provide services to clients.

The talent acquisition needs to be modernized; it has to attract both younger and older employees. This is a real challenge because these two recruitment target groups usually do not share interests. The HR recruiter will have to find innovative ways how to attract them both.

The aging workforce will change the wage structures. Today, the more senior employees usually earn more than young talents (at least in mature organizations). This approach will probably change with the shortage of young talents. This will be a significant change in our habit and expectations.

The declining skills and competencies will be an exception. Some older employees will not be allowed to retire quickly. Many organizations will depend on their skills and experience. It will be the HR challenge to introduce the Learning Strategy. Otherwise, our businesses will not survive.