Managing Your Transitioning Workforce

When it comes to people leaving the organization entirely, that’s a conversation that  corporate alumni programs  are handling. But when it comes to the employees that are remaining in the organization, you’re facing three questions:
  • How are you going to get your people actively shifting up to speed and adjusted in their new environment?
  • How are you going to get the people in that new environment adjusted along with the person who shifted?
  • How are you going to deal with the situation the shifters leave behind – e.g., who will be filling their old shoes, and what preparation will they have for their new role or addition of responsibilities to their current role?

The Workforce in Transition

The workforce is in a period of drastic transition that isn’t going away anytime soon. This makes the subject of institutional knowledge transfer even more timely and necessary to discuss.

  • Baby Boomers – post World War II baby boom. 250,000 per month turning 65 every month. This will continue until 2035. 
  • Generation X – moving into leadership and upper management positions
  • Generation Y – Currently make up 25% of the workforce. By 2020, expected to make up 40% of the workforce. 
  • Generation Z – Make up 10% of the workforce, but coming up fast.

Bear in mind that all employees – not just Gen Y/Millennials segment – are staying with their organizations for shorter and shorter periods of time. Add to this the fact that employees are also taking career development opportunities when and where they become available – even if that’s outside of their current organization. Now that the economy is in a recovery, they can afford more and more to do so.

It’s not enough for just HR to understand the generational differences – but don’t get us wrong, it’s definitely very important for HR to understand and champion methods to overcome those differences. But those methods are by necessity going to have to be team efforts, meaning that all employees from all generations must be able to communicate with and learn from each other.

Mentoring Facilitates Employee Transition

In a recent study , when asked to indicate the top two primary objectives of their mentoring programs, respondents indicated that “Institutional knowledge sharing or transfer” was the third most frequent objective, at 30.8% of respondents. Taking first and second place as top objectives, unsurprisingly, were “leadership or high potential development” and “skill development”. (Stay tuned for the release of the full survey report at the end of this quarter.)

So while growth and effectiveness take top priority – once again, not surprising in a recovering economy – preservation of institutional knowledge is still a top priority.

But the fact is that they can and should all be working together, and mentoring is an excellent vehicle to make that happen. Why?

  • It’s skills-focused and culture-specific.
  • It provides practical and just-in-time learning with specific goals.
  • It helps the learner (the mentee) avoid pitfalls, as the mentor has been there and done that already.
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