The modern workforce is comprised of the most diverse individuals in history. Those at retirement age are delaying their departure from the job pool while college graduates are entering the field with a lifetime of experience with technology and degrees selected for high returns1. Longer life expectancy and later retirement means the youngest generation of employees are often working alongside their grandparents, with as many as five generations under the same roof.
Modern devices and the internet have revolutionized the way business is conducted and how organizations connect with their customers. Social media has created new avenues for interactions, making companies more individualized and accessible, while also adding additional pressure and risk. Consumers are selective, using their digital community to guide decision-making while still appreciating a thorough, personalized experience. As customers and workers evolve and technology creates new opportunities and responsibilities, employers need to make constant adjustments to their approach. Business leaders must build and harness the personal experiences from diverse teams for customer assessment and future growth.
Employers are confronting two realities at once: their employees are changing, and their customer base is broadening in interest, size, and scope. In addition to this varied demand from generational cultures, the stable economy and low unemployment rate means competition is fierce and employees have more options than ever before.
Knowledge management—the process by which information is curated, created, stored, and shared—is also a concern as the workforce progresses. Baby Boomers retire by the tens of thousands each day, resulting in the concern of a “brain drain” as skilled employees depart. This is especially true in the trade industries, where technical proficiency is a requirement. A poll by AARP revealed, “48% of companies have not, and will not, do any strategic planning to analyze the impact on their businesses of retirement by their Boomer employees.”2
In addition to the demands inside the workplace, customers are increasingly becoming savvier, more diverse, and more selective. Organizations are under more pressure to occupy both a physical and digital space. Maintaining websites, social media pages, and visibility on search engines has become a critical part of doing business. Not only do potential customers want to learn more about a product or service online to inform their purchase decisions, they want websites to be visually appealing, functional, and available on both desktop and mobile devices.
Many companies have found success using social media. Social media provides a pulse on the impressions of your brand, product, and services. This is not without its own challenges. Smaller organizations may not have the budget, time, or knowledge of social media techniques to keep up with the demand.
As your organization and staff grow, harness the energy and skills of your team from each unique perspective. Determine what your employees need at every level, both entry and management. Evaluate the demographics of your workplace. Provide opportunities for discussions and meetings where all levels of employees are present to brainstorm ideas and provide status updates. Encouraging C-suite employees to share and engage with entry-level employees sets an example of the shared values your organization represents.
As your employee pool evolves, and technology influences how businesses run, maintaining and updating knowledge management must also be part of regular operations. Pair new employees with current employees to provide on-the-job mentoring, shadowing, and gap analysis. Outline and detail systems and reporting structures so employees understand their fit within the company. Cross-train on key skills and capabilities required to perform daily tasks within the organization and sustain operations as needed.
Forecast your employee demographics in the next five to ten years. Consider where you are most at risk and create a timeline for how and when you expect a shift in staffing. Determine the impact these shifts would have on your budget, productivity, customer demands, and innovation3.
To continue providing excellent service and support for your customers, you need to understand them on a fundamental level. Create a customer profile detailing those you serve. Isolate their values, their fears, how they communicate and use technology. Ask yourself if you are using the appropriate channels to reach them. Identify trends and patterns in responses to narrow in on a central theme.
If you are considering taking the next step toward future growth but don’t know where to start, host a customer assessment Marco Program. Our one-hour program offers organizations an opportunity to gather in small groups to discuss current processes, gaps in meeting customer needs, and actionable steps to set goals and milestones. Critical Ops’ vetted subject matter experts are available to facilitate an event at your location, either virtually or in-person. The small group setting allows participants to work alongside their peers and answer a series of questions to spark discussion and discovery. Following every Marco Program, our experts analyze your findings and identify strengths, vulnerabilities, and recommendations.
It can be daunting to keep up with an ever-changing market. With detailed analysis and assessment, you can use your staff to its fullest potential, increasing productivity and customer satisfaction. Harness the talents, skills, and experience of your team across all age ranges and levels to create a circular relationship of knowledge exchanges and mentorship. Preparing now for anticipated challenges, such as turnover or staff shortages, will save you time, money, and energy when these arise. By combining personal experience from diverse teams with customer assessment, your organization can make strides toward future growth.
- Miller, J. (2016). A guide to covering Gen Z and higher ed. Retrieved from http://businessjournalism.org/2016/10/guide-covering-gen-z-higher-education/
- Tappero, J. (2015). How are Baby Boomers affecting the workplace? Retrieved from https://www.westsoundworkforce.com/how-are-baby-boomers-affecting-the-workplace/
- Golden, C. (2006). Planning for the brain drain. Retrieved from https://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM06611.pdf