The Modern Workforce, is it really that modern?....

When most people think of “the modern workforce”, images of iPod toting young professionals with PDA’s and smart phones come to mind, people who are tech savvy and perhaps most noticeably; young.

The reality presently being experienced by most Human Resource professionals is all too often the opposite, as millions of retirement aged workers; reeling from financial woes and a downtrodden economy, are opting to stay in the workforce longer. A recent survey by AARP reported that as many as 68% of workers between the ages of 55 and 70 have pushed back retirement, or cancelled it indefinitely.

Years ago the fear was that the baby boomers would retire en masse and cause a massive hole in the workforce of America on the whole, leaving businesses in dire need of replacements to fill this perceived void. Today it is becoming ever clearer that this isn’t happening, and while a mixed blessing that business doesn’t have a gulf to fill, this new reality of un-retirees does create a multitude of dilemmas for business.

Ultimately the task of solving the various dilemmas presented by an aging workforce will fall upon those in the Human Resources field; what that means for most companies is it will fall upon their HR departments. There are a number of core areas where HR and Management will need to work together to make wise decisions, as well as balance those decisions with care for their workforce.

As a company’s workforce ages, the costs of benefits for that workforce tends to increase, sometimes astronomically so in the case of individual employees who happen to be the victims of catastrophic medical problems. Aging employees often times don’t adapt well to long hours or arduous schedules, and want a shorter work day or less travel. Having an aging workforce can mean increased workers compensation payouts in the case of labor jobs where aging employees are more apt to get hurt. 

These and other issues will require thoughtful analysis and will be crucial, and the cornerstone of wise decision making is information. A number of companies have invested in HRM (Human Resource Management) systems to streamline the information gathering process. In today’s HR field, companies who fail to track employee performance and vital information can find themselves at a disadvantage in analyzing their workforce as compared to those who are well informed. This all poses an even more fundamental set of questions about the information itself, and how it is being gathered.

The information being gathered can lend itself in numerous beneficial ways, but what information is being gathered? What systems are in place to quantify the data that does exist? Does enough data exist? Are employees informed about their benefits? How much time does it all take and at what cost?

These are important questions to ask if you’re a business trying to stay competitive and at the same time deal with the problems imposed by the current workforce dilemmas. Knowing employees' medical history, employment history, benefits, term of employment, and a sundry list of other vital data is crucial, but so too is the accuracy of that information and the ability to easily access and quantify the information.

Doing business in the 21st century presents a changing landscape in corporate America, but it’s not just the changes in the workforce that are important, it’s the changes in the way we leverage technology and information to make wise decisions that will allow us to chart a better course.

About the author:

Michael Gabriele is the President and CEO of Perfect Software, Perfect Software is an industry leading HRIS and Payroll software company. The solutions Perfect Software provides for companies give them the benefit of being able to accurately track employee data and process information and handle all aspects of employee information management and benefit management. 

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