While the cohort of “prime-aged” workers (25 to 54 years old) has grown significantly over the past two decades, recently, the size of that group has been in decline. Labor shortages are projected as Baby Boomers retire. This trend is exacerbated by the insufficient number of college graduates available to enter the workforce to replace retirees. Our number of young people available to work simply cannot replace our oldest workers – there are just not enough of them. Lance Jensen Richards and Jason S. Morga summarize the problem succinctly: “With the overall workforce aging, birth rates in mature markets dropping, labor pools in developed nations shrinking, the numbers of skilled workers dropping, and the demand for skilled workers accelerating along with technology evolutions —the global workforce could soon be in a world of trouble.”
Paula Norbom, president of Talencio, LLC, believes that the impact of the Boomer departure will be felt everywhere, but the top levels will be especially hard hit. “Competition for the remaining talent will be fierce and expensive, with the revolving door to the boardroom spinning ever faster as the battle for executives intensifies. Corporations need to re-think their strategies for senior level staffing to compete in the marketplace,” noted Norbom.
A large part of that rethinking will rest on the fact that the best and brightest of the Boomers will not retire quietly, but are willing to stay in the game. The Pew Research Center predicts that “Generation U,” a new moniker for unretired Boomers, will fuel 93% of the growth in the U.S. labor market through 2016. But willingness to stay in the game does not mean continuing in the 40-hour work week mode. Generation U workers are looking for flexibility, interesting work, fair compensation, and the opportunity to continue to make a difference while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. They still want to contribute and feel that sense of accomplishment that only comes from a job well done.
Norbom suggests that bringing on interim senior-level resources on a contract basis would be a most attractive strategy for assignments that are short-term and strategic, such as opening a new division; launching a product or service; guiding start-up businesses through initial hurdles; opening a new country, region or market segment; ensuring operational success through temporary transitions. She notes, “Companies that want to thrive and compete for top, experienced talent, would do well to identify how to use contracted interim senior-level resources as part of their staffing mix.”
Lance Jensen Richards, Jason S. Morga, FourTruths about Work, Kelly Services, Inc, 2013.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor force projections to 2020: a more slowly growing workforce. Monthly Labor Review, January 2012, 43-64.
Six global trends shaping the business world: Demographic shifts transform the global workforce. Ernst & Young Global Limited.
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