Friday, June 30, 2006

Workforce Old and Young: What's Next?

Continuing from the last post on CTC speakers, there were some provocative ideas raised at CTC even if the conclusions were completely convincing.

Implications for Collaborative Technology in the Enterprise

Stowe Boyd moderated a panel on Wednesday morning that included John Beck, author of Got Game, and Jim Ware, executive producer of the Work Design Collaborative. Ware began with an analysis of the workforce as it is and as it ages, and Beck focused on the relationship of gaming to leadership skills across age groups. There wasn't a lot of overlap, but the combination made for a lively discussion.

As always, for a full transcript of this session, see Nancy White's reporting.

Where Are We Now? John Ware's Presentation

Stowe Boyd began as moderator by saying that 30% of 12-19 year-olds have created or written blogs. This social medium that emerged only recently went from adult use to attracting kids. In a few years, says Stowe, these kids will enter the workforce. His question: when looking at blogging, along with IM and other technologies used everyday by this age group, how will these people want to work, collaborate, and connect in business? And what will they expect?

Framing the Discussion: The Older End of the Workforce

James Ware began the panel to talk about the different expectatins at the top of the workforce from those at the younger end. He pointed out that over the next number of years, there will be over a 30% growth in the number of workers between 60 and 69 and over 20% for those between 50 and 59. As knowledge an wisdom leave the workforce, says Ware, not nearly as many people are coming in to replenish the needs of businesses.

Changing Expectations: Traditional vs. Emergent Workers

Ware also explained that worker expectations have changed. Where a traditional worker felt the responsibility for her career lay with the company, the emergent worker believes the responsibility is her own. Where traditional worker believed that promotion was based primarily on tenure the emergent worker believes it should be based primarily on merit. Changing jobs used to inspire fear but now represent advancement. Where retention meant security to traditional workers, emergent workers focus on growth. Where management style was expected to be paternalistic, emergent workers expect a peer relationship. Organizational charts were admired, andnow they area ignored.

Ware added that retirement doesn't really take for many older people, either because they need the money or because they want to continue working for other reasons. In fact, many of these retirees will work part-time.

And So?

The implication is that there will be an increasing need to support retirees to work from wherever they are to continue to tap their knowledge, wisdom, and experience.

Ware concluded with these predictions:
--Be prepared for major talent shortages in the next decade
--Recognize the changing workforce values, expectations, and needs
--Learn to manage generational diversity

More on this panel and the younger side of the workforce in the next post.

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