This statistical fact, combined with a shift in workplace attitudes among the younger ranks, is causing growing concern among corporate leaders, notes Elden Monday, state vice president for University of Phoenix’s local campuses in Pennsylvania.
Smart Business spoke with Monday about how learning opportunities historically reserved for senior managers will become increasingly important for “executives” at all levels. In the coming years, businesses and specifically senior leaders will need to rely on education as a tool to build loyalty and better prepare this younger cohort to tackle the challenges ahead.
What is the biggest challenge managers will face as the boomer generation begins its departure from corporate America?
The majority of boomers will exit the workforce from middle- to senior-management positions. This means that a significant share of each company’s brain power will be walking out the door, and the younger generations left behind simply don’t have the same corporate loyalties as their predecessors.
University of Phoenix recently conducted a survey that showed about one-third of workers plan to change jobs in the next three years but when we looked at responses from Gen X and Gen Y specifically, we saw that as many as half of these younger workers will soon be looking for greener pastures.
How can managers address this situation?
Today’s corporate leaders need to take a closer look at their younger ranks and help these individuals develop long-term commitments. Better pay will always be a motivator for jumping ship, but we were surprised by the number of survey respondents who are simply looking for greater challenges. For example, one-third of respondents said they’d leave for more interesting or rewarding work, and 26 percent would resign to take on more responsibility at a new firm. What’s even more startling is that 47 percent of our respondents do not see room for advancement at their current companies.
Helping younger workers establish a clear career path within the organization will be key. These workers want to feel like they’re part of something bigger, and that their contributions are appreciated. Working closely with these employees to groom and move them up the ranks can both build their loyalty and help managers transfer valuable knowledge down the chain rather than out the door.
Aside from defining career paths, are there other steps managers can take?
Absolutely. Our survey revealed an eagerness to learn. Respondents gave high ratings to ongoing training opportunities, whether in the form of mentoring, professional development, on-the-job training or tuition reimbursement for formal degree programs. However, while about 42 percent of respondents acknowledged that these opportunities are in place, only about 29 percent said their companies actively promote them.
Where such programs are in place, managers can do a better job of communicating their availability and encouraging participation. If a program does not exist, managers should explore how to implement one. Some colleges and universities especially those that cater to the needs of working adults can help managers outline a formal workforce development plan or even establish internal training programs based on an organization’s needs.
What are some other ways higher learning institutions can help managers better prepare for what’s ahead?
Colleges and universities that serve working students are paying close attention to the needs of younger workers. Smart managers will build relationships with these schools to ensure they are arming their employees with the opportunity to learn and grow.
In addition, some schools invite business professionals to serve as faculty. In doing so, these faculty are offering students the benefit of their own real-world experience in exchange for firsthand interaction and insight into the minds of younger generations.
ELDEN MONDAY is the state vice president for the Pennsylvania campuses of University of Phoenix, a national leader in higher education for working adults, offering both campus-based and online programs. Reach Monday at firstname.lastname@example.org or (610) 989-0880, ext. 1131.