BY Antoinette Blunt, MPA, CHRP, SHRP



For those of us who will be guiding the workforces of the future, the 2009 World of Work Report by Randstad, the second-largest staffing organization in the world, has some grim news—specifically on the management front. For the past few years, these reports have mentioned the shortage of skilled and talented employees; but this year, the survey results stress the imminent shortage of qualified managers to fill the void retiring baby boomers are already starting to create.

And there is more: Not only will there be a shortage dictated strictly by demographics, there is also a lack of will on the part of those who are currently in the workforce and could aspire to management positions.

“It is clear that finding and preparing the next generation of managers is rapidly becoming one of the most critical business needs in the modern workplace,” the report states. Further, it found that those with the most experience are the least likely to want to become management.

The report, drawn from a survey of 2,199 employees and 833 managers in the U.S., found that only 49 per cent of employees aspire to be managers and, specifically, only 42 per cent of generation Y employees (aged 18-29), 47 per cent of generation X (aged 30-44) and 50 per cent of baby boomers (aged 45-63).

The response, state the report’s authors, may be because managers do not make their jobs seem very attractive. In short, the combination of long hours, a lot more responsibility and not much more money is not motivating these folks.

What does? Respondents named sharing knowledge with others, being responsible for the success of an organization, and able to influence decisions in the organization. The idea of being responsible for budgets and working in a high-pressure environment ranked considerably lower.

Further, based on answers from younger people, in a question about what they look for in role models, the report’s authors say honour and character will always trump gamesmanship and business skills. The reality is that younger generations are more likely to name their parents, teachers and co-workers than their bosses or business leaders as role models.

So, where does HR go from here?

We need to ensure we train and support existing managers to demonstrate desirable behaviour to younger generations. In addition, we need to consider models of work that include the traits that will attract younger workers to consider moving up the corporate ladder. This can begin with hiring practices where HR can explore what the potential employee is looking for in a job. HR can also speak with existing employees about what they value about their work and what would interest them in the future, within the organization’s structure. Employees should be given opportunities to continue to learn and develop.

In addition, it’s important that employees are kept apprised of their organization’s strategic priorities and how to influence its success. The organization should also adopt a decision-making framework that considers employee input wherever possible and supports involvement in decision-making to varying degrees, depending on the nature and level of the decision. A sense of being “in on things” and having an impact on the future of the organization will sustain a feeling of belonging and worth among employees.

This article first appeared in the January 2010 issue of HR Professional magazine.

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