Magazine article New Zealand Management

COMMENT ON: Face of the Future ,Co Beware Grey 2K

Magazine article New Zealand Management

COMMENT ON: Face of the Future ,Co Beware Grey 2K

Article excerpt

Byline: Reece Norton

While some would suggest that we face tight labour markets because of the greying workforce, others advise tuning out C[pounds sterling]the sky is fallingC[yen] predictions of a widespread talent shortage.

So what is the reality? Speaking from personal experience, I find it all very confusing, and I am of an age where I wear confusion like a badge.

Strong arguments from both sides only lead to even more confusion, so primarily my aim here is to spread some of that confusion around. A management professor at the University of Pennsylvania suggested that alarms about a talent famine are akin to the technology wizardsCO dire warnings about Y2K. And yes, I do remember it, thanks for asking. He went on to suggest that the new danger be called Grey2K.

Of course, one of the ways to solve the problem of ageing boomers and possibly too few workers, is to keep older workers engaged in the workforce. But that means having to understand inter-generational attitude differences.

ThereCOs no question that, over the next several years, the 30- to 45-year-olds will continue to take the management roles and they will probably be a smaller mob than the baby boomers. But get this; some of the baby boomers will not want to retire. And you can rest assured that there is probably someone at home who is keen for them not to retire.

At this juncture the overwhelming temptation is to bury you in a mass of statistical data supporting both sides of the argument, but in a typical C[pounds sterling]aged personC[yen] response I canCOt figure out which set of numbers to use, let alone understand what they mean.

It is probably far more important to think about retaining that institutional knowledge and putting it to good use rather than sweating over the numbers anyway. However, in slight deference to the statistically minded it is worth noting that almost half our workforce is over 40 and the number of workers over the age of 65 also continues to increase.

This may not have been particularly helpful so far, and if you think it is going to improve, then think again. The mantle of grumpiness does not sit easy on the shoulders of we who are part of the grey brigade. We have to deal with people of the younger persuasion worrying about how to manage us, and how we will cope with the speed of introduction of new technology.

We love to read about the shrinking workforce and the desperate need to retain our wisdom and experience, such as it is, but we choose to ignore the other stuff because we can and do cope with technology and working with a mixture of people of varying ages. …

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