Collins
by Mike Collins
November 26th, 2013

A Changing of the Guard

We are witnessing a massive changing of the guard. Baby boomers are retiring and leaving the workforce. The members of generation X, who were born between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s and whose ranks include me, are being promoted into those positions. However, there are more baby boomers leaving than there are qualified generation X individuals to assume their positions. This creates a talent gap that can be difficult to address.

We see this gap when a door or window company is preparing to be acquired and the owner’s child who works in the business just doesn’t “have the chops” to take over. Any business owner unable to say who would take over if they sold the company or retired has a succession problem. It is vital for companies to identify the rising stars in each functional area, since they will take over these departments after the retiring baby boomers exit. It would be a good idea to have a backup for each department, if possible, as the improving economy will create turnover among the best people.

Recently, we’ve covered in presentations the effect that members of generation Y are having upon the multi-family housing segment. Some 2 million people will join this group of 20-34 year-olds over the next several years, creating demand for multi-family housing. Assessing the impact these individuals, also known as echo boomers, have on various market segments, calls to mind the other area where their impact is being felt—the workplace.

Echo boomers were reared on technology. It is instinctive and reflexive for them to utilize technology in solving problems. Spend a minute in front of a 24-year-old trying to remember what year a movie was released based on what grade you think you were in when you saw it. You won’t need the whole minute, because they’ll have their smart phone out and will circumvent your reverie with the right answer after 20 seconds or so.

It’s almost as if your non-reliance on technology causes them stress. An obvious implication of this is that you will need to have the right social media presence in order to effectively recruit the best workers from this tech-enabled group. Another is that it is likely to be the echo boomers who ensure that door and window manufacturers stay abreast of new technologies that become available. Thus, companies need to address every demographic in planning for the future.

The best generation X employees must be groomed to take over for retiring baby boomers. A strong group of echo boomers must be brought in to eventually take over for the generation X people and to help companies stay technologically current in the interim.

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