Nearly all organizations around the world realize the anticipated baby boomer retirement wave will cause a shift in workforce demographics, but very few have implemented programs or policies to deal with the change.
Further, according to a study of 240 global learning executives in June and July, only 16 percent of organizations have made it a priority for their learning strategies to have considerations regarding changing workforce demographics.
The study was conducted by IBM and the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), and its respondents were from public, private and nonprofit organizations across eight industry sectors in North America, South America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
It explored issues such as how learning leaders felt about the impact of changing workforce demographics on their organizations, how they can approach knowledge transfer, their perceptions of learning preferences among different generations of employees and barriers to learning.
More than 70 percent of the respondents were learning executives or professionals.
The impetus for the study is joint research between IBM and ASTD that involves learning’s role in organizational success, and it builds on what IBM has done and learned in regard to the challenges and opportunities that a multigenerational workforce presents.
“IBM has taken the lead in bringing the issue of the multi-generational workforce to the forefront,” said Eric Lesser, associate partner, IBM Institute for Business Value. “Our research has clearly demonstrated that C-level and human capital executives recognize the impact changing workforce demographics will have on their organizations. This new study delves into the learning function to determine its current and potential role in managing the workforce shifts organizations around the world will experience in the forthcoming months and years. What we’ve found are significant gaps between learning executives’ recognition of the challenge and their belief that they and their organizations are addressing it effectively.”
The study found learning executives are aware that critical knowledge must be preserved or transferred before employees retire or leave an organization, but fewer than one-third incorporate knowledge transfer into learning program. More than one-third of organizations think older workers participate in learning actives more than younger workers and that the former experience more barriers in participating in learning activities.
Further, according to the study, more than 80 percent of learning executives think there will be a large impact on their organizations as workforce demographics shift, but only 46 percent of learning executives said their organizations are doing a “good” or “excellent” job in addressing this upcoming phenomenon.
IBM and ASTD, in light of the study, provided several action steps that are crucial for learning executives, including working with HR to increase awareness and visibility of changing workforce demographic issues, developing a strategy for transferring knowledge and identifying relevant opportunities for mature workers to take part in learning activities, including nontraditional learning experiences.
For more information, see http://www.astd.org/astd/research/research_reports.