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  • Performance Drivers Pty Ltd

Workforce Generational Change

A Clash of the Ages?

In 2017 Tim Gurner a Melbourne property developing millionaire caused controversy when he said that millennials (Generation Y & Z) should stop buying smashed avocado toast from hipster cafes. Instead he suggested they should focus on working harder and buying property. Again in 2017 Forbes published an article which stated that millennials were killing the following 5 Industries: Chain Restaurants; Diamonds; Home ownership; Movie Theatres; and Cereal.

In response to statements like these Millennials have taken to the internet to mock baby boomers with memes (an image/video etc that is humorous in nature that is copied and spread through out internet users) for what they perceive as a generation of greedy people hogging all the worlds wealth.

Whilst most people can see that these are stereotypes of these generations, they do highlight the huge issue of generational change.

What does all this generational change mean for the workforce?

The reality is that Australian baby boomers are ageing with a large number of them leaving the workforce to enjoy their retirement. Looking at the graph you can notice that already generation Y outnumbers the baby boomers in the workforce by 9% and generation X outnumbers them by 6%.

What this means is as the baby boomers leave the workforce, they are creating a labour shortage in management that is becoming difficult to fill. This is because the average retention rate of working for one firm has plummeted from 15 years in 1959 to just 4 years currently. This has resulted in young staff that show promise being promoted beyond their experience. Some unique individuals succeed in their new positions, but many can fail and leave the firm all together.

How does a firm deal with this management labour deficit?

If a firm doesn’t deal with the management labour deficit properly a generation of knowledge can be lost to an entire firm. There are two principles that any firm can use to deal with the management labour deficit. The first principle is to discover ways to convert a baby boomers’ managerial knowledge into a format that can be understood by a younger generation of employees. The second is to pick a viable replacement candidate as early as possible as to give the individual time to prepare for the role through consulting the retiring manager and allowing them to ask for extra assistance if the individual believes they require it.

Whilst implementing such a system seems like a daunting task, if a firm is willing to review the abilities of its ageing managerial staff, understand how to manage that knowledge and satisfy the needs of its younger employees. An appropriate system to deal with the management labour deficit can be established, with the right managerial support and planning.

5 steps to avoid the deficit:

  • Know the demographics of your workforce and look at your retention strategy through the lens of this workforce change

  • Identify and develop emerging leaders to prepare for turnover in the management team

  • Value and harness the life and work experience of the baby boomer generation to help prepare the next generation

  • Develop knowledge transfer opportunities

  • Leverage the Gen Y/Millenial generation’s desire for mentoring, surveys show they turn to the baby boomer generation for advice



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