Consultant Says Flexibility Allows Employers to Adapt to Demographic Changes

The HR & Payroll Resource Center is your integrated, comprehensive source for HR and Payroll information that merges news, analysis, and guidance – including custom answers,...

By Genevieve Douglas

June 29 --A more flexible approach to the workforce will position employers to better capitalize on shifting demographics, Gary Kushner, president and chief executive officer of HR consulting firm Kushner & Company, said June 29 at the Society for Human Resource Management's 67th Annual Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas.

“Today, it is not the employee who needs to adapt to the organization, it’s the organization that needs to adapt to its people,” he said.

According to Kushner, changing demographics in the workplace include an increase in Hispanic workers, female workers, entrepreneurial workers, older workers and mobile workers. Each of these shifts will affect the way HR attracts, engages and retains employees, he said.

Kushner cited U.S. Census Bureau statistics that indicate that by 2050, 55 percent of the U.S. workforce will be Hispanic. This demographic is also almost a decade younger than the national average of the workforce, as almost one-third of Hispanics in the U.S. are under the age of 18, he said.

Kushner said the future workforce will feature up to five generations, including traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation X, millennials and the youngest workers, which he called “Gen Wi-fi.”

Each of these generations have specific needs and goals, Kushner said. For example, he said, millennials like working in smaller, more entrepreneurial organizations, while baby boomers were raised to want to be the leader of a large organization. “How people want to work is going to correlate with how organizations try to attract and retain [them],” Kushner said.

He listed multiple strategies HR should employ to accommodate a workforce that needs more flexible options, such as inviting multiple view points to weigh in on big decisions and not taking a one-size-fits-all approach.

Additionally, employers should not limit access to information and should adapt quickly to changing environments, Kushner recommended, and should work to build corporate cultures of respect and acceptance.

When it comes to the way work can now be accomplished, Kushner emphasized the shift from a centralized work model to a more social, widespread model due to technology. “Work now gets done in borderless and global ways,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Genevieve Douglas in Washington at gdouglas@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at snadel@bna.com