Recruit Older Workers - They’ll Be Your Salvation This Year!
The convergence of several trends--declining births, retiring baby boomers, and expected business growth--will create more jobs than there will be workers to fill them by 2010, experts predict. The math is relatively simple. The civilian labor force will increase by 17 million, reaching 158 million in 2010, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But by then, the BLS says, the number of jobs will reach 168 million.
Roger Herman, a futurist specializing in workplace issues, says pressure on baby boomers wanting to retire will be so great that they will be pulled back into the labor market. Even so, he says, older workers won’t show up in large enough numbers to fill the millions of jobs available. Herman says the problem will be aggravated by the shortage of skilled, educated workers already occurring in manufacturing, health care, and various technical fields.
With the graying of the workforce, American business is going to have to pay attention to what older workers want and how to recruit them, says Deborah Russell, manager of Economic Security & Work at the American Association of Retired Persons. "Terms such as ‘fast-paced,’ ‘high-energy,’ ‘young,’ and ‘vital’ are often signals to older workers that they need not apply," she says. AARP encourages companies to use terminology that better reflects age diversity such as "experienced workers" and "age-diverse."
A recent AARP-sponsored study, using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 workers age 45 to 74, shows that 69% plan to work in some capacity during their retirement years. They work not only for money but also for intangible benefits such as enjoyment and a sense of purpose. Poll participants focused on "soft benefits" such as adequate time off and flexible schedules as well as "hard benefits," including health-care benefits and insurance and good pension benefits as "absolutely essential parts of their ideal jobs."
Excerpted from Workforce Magazine article,
Just How Logical Are You?
Be one of the first 10 readers to answer 5 out of 6 correctly and win a prize!
1. A murderer is condemned to death. He has to choose between three rooms. The first is full of raging fires, the second is full of assassins with loaded guns, and the third is full of lions that haven’t eaten in 3 years. Which room is safest for him?
2. A woman shoots her husband. Then she holds him under water for over 5 minutes. Finally, she hangs him. But 5 minutes later they both go out together and enjoy a wonderful dinner together. How can this be?
3. There are 2 plastic jugs filled with water. How could you put all of this water into a barrel, without using the jugs or any dividers, and still tell which water came from which jug?
4. Can you name 3 consecutive days without using the words Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday?
6. This is an unusual paragraph. I’m curious how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it? It looks so plain you would think nothing was wrong with it! In fact, nothing is wrong with it! It is unusual though. Study it, and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you might find out! Try to do so without any coaching!
Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, the 1st 10 readers to answer 5 out of 6 correctly win!
* Our first entry from last month’s What Calendar Are You Using in 2004? is Cindy Dahl, CMP, CPPB, Sr. Buyer, St. Louis County Purchasing Dept. She says: Hanging on my wall is the Half Price Books 2004 Calendar — I chose it again this year because of the cool art work and the fun facts (for example: “Fred Astaire was allergic to feathers” (January 2004) or “T.S. Elliot’s favorite gift to critics was exploding cigars” (April 2004).
Does Your Boss Know You’re Successful?
The last few months we’ve seen a lot of talk in management, executive and HR circles about the need to create performance management systems that work.
Certainly, the biggest challenge within the system is the measurement — yuk! — evaluation time. Help out your boss by letting him/her know what you’re doing.
Write your answers to the following and give them to your boss monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually in a format that fits their reading/data style:
If You Don’t Train Them They Might Stay
Information and knowledge have always served as cornerstones for business success. But as the economy has shifted from an industrial base to a knowledge base, the stakes have grown exponentially. Today, gaps and deficiencies in skills and competencies translate into poor performance and an inability to compete effectively. Factor in decreasing loyalty, a moribund economy, a transient approach to employment and the lack of effective systems for lassoing knowledge when workers depart, and all the ingredients exist for catastrophic failure. "Companies are discovering that they must move from a job-based model of human resources administration to a competency-based model," Lawler says. "Those that can identify the skills and qualities needed for a focused business strategy are likely to come out on top."
Although individual pieces of the puzzle in training and development have long existed--including classroom instruction, online training, applications for performance management and knowledge-management systems--it’s only now that organizations are beginning to integrate everything and assemble a meaningful picture of where they are and where they should be. At the same time, progressive executives recognize that it’s unwise to use the economy and the transient nature of the workforce as excuses to avoid the expense of training and development. "You can train people and they wind up leaving. But if you don’t train them and they wind up staying, you have bigger problems," Koch says.
Of course, sagging profits and lagging budgets make the task all the more difficult. Yet the American Society of Training and Development reports that organizations with above-average training-and-development budgets outperform competitors and achieve a higher total shareholder return. Many firms, including Southwest Airlines, Dell and Viacom, clearly understand this concept. They have resisted the temptation to slash training-and-development budgets and have emerged from the economic malaise smarter and stronger.
Others are figuring out how to integrate systems and strategies to produce superior results. In order to develop a smarter workforce, Inquisite Inc. has turned to performance management, focused training programs, informal brown-bag lunches and a knowledge-management application for its 100 employees that captures key information and makes it available to others. Workers can log on and find tidbits about subjects ranging from new information technology to an improved sales technique. "It’s essential to take a big-picture approach to organizational knowledge and competencies," says Inquisite president Meg Murphy. The data feeds into a competency-management system, which uses metrics to gauge employee performance and the justification for raises and promotions. "The goal is to prevent expertise from walking out the door with employees when they leave the company," she says.
Not surprisingly, the effects of such a strategy can ripple into all corners of the organization, including recruiting, hiring and compensation strategies. "A competency-based system helps an organization achieve its goals, and when it is structured right, it rewards the top performers and keeps many of them from leaving," Lawler says. He believes that organizations must make competency-based systems a priority in 2004 and beyond. And while the technology and systems required to handle these tasks are crucial, success also involves effecting cultural change.
"Too many managers are fearful that if they share knowledge, they diminish their market value or standing within the organization," Lawler notes. "It’s up to human resources to develop a new model that facilitates the transfer of knowledge and helps build a smarter enterprise."
Excerpted from Workforce Magazine What's in Store for 2004, by Samuel Greengard, December 2003.
Forbid Your Staff to Work After 5:00 PM
So many applications to your organization—you have to read this one!
One of the Audi TTs on the road today is notable for at least one reason: its owner received it without paying a cent, simply for working at Motek, a tiny software company that, for this and many other reasons, may very well be the best place in the world to work.
The benefits package at Motek, which makes software that tracks the movement of goods in warehouses, doesn't stop there. Everyone at the 11-year-old company gets 5 weeks of vacation, plus ten paid holidays. No one is permitted to work past 5 p.m. or on weekends. Ann Price, Motek's founder, believes that everyone should be able to walk to work, so she subsidizes employees' Beverly Hills neighborhood addresses. And after 10 years with the company, workers are given a leased TT, Lexus IS300, or whatever car they choose within a $6,000 annual limit.
This is corporate life in the 3rd year of a grinding economic slowdown? Yep, and there's more. The benefits, it turns out, are just blinking neon. Motek's most remarkable attribute is actually the way it operates. Price, who calls her creation a "capitalist kibbutz," has blended cutting-edge business practices, some idiosyncratic personal beliefs, and a renegade's delight in nonconformity into a company unlike any other in today's corporate lexicon. Motek's 21 employees vote on everything from the size of their bonuses to office furnishings. They also choose their own assignments. "We don't really have bosses here," says Dawn Stramer, a project manager and one of Price's first hires.
The company's mission, says Price, is not to make money for shareholders or to repay investors handsomely but to improve the life of its employees and its customers. "We know we're revolutionizing the warehouse-automation industry," she says. "We know we'll get there. But instead of doing it in five years, we'll do it in ten and have a life along the way."
Want a hint that Motek doesn't operate like an ordinary software company? It's calm. You can hear your footsteps as you walk down the 50 yards of polished concrete floor that bisects the company's two rows of glass-walled offices. You'd never know that the company has installed Priya, its complicated software system, at more than 39 warehouses for more than 30 customers. Where are the calamities, the army of service technicians rushing to the aid of distraught warehouse managers? Well, according to Motek's clients, they aren't needed; the software is that reliable. "Implementation was very smooth," says Johnny Armstrong, a systems manager for Georgia Power's plant in Forrest Park, GA. "We shut down our old system and server within two days of going live with Priya."
But Motek's secret isn't just that its software works -- it's why it works. Price has turned top-down management on its head. On Monday morning at 10:30 the company's 6 technical consultants gather around a table in a small office. Anyone at Motek can join this weekly meeting, but on a recent Monday only the technicians -- five young men and one woman -- stroll in with notepads in hand. Tom Martineau, recently hired by the team to manage them, is the only one wearing a tie. The seven members of his department (one is on maternity leave), ranging in age from 25 to 40, form the guts of the company. They're responsible for creating new versions of Priya, addressing technical needs within the company, and generating the small but endless modifications requested by customers.
At a conventional software company, a manager would distribute jobs to programmers and designers, who would jockey for plum assignments. At Motek, after some desultory talk about the morning traffic and the Lakers' championship prospects, the team pores over a to-do list of 257 chores, fixes, and requests, many part of larger, longer projects. As they move down the list, individual consultants volunteer for tasks, estimating the number of billable hours they will book. No one is supposed to take on more than they can accomplish by the end of the week, so most of the tasks will have to wait until next week. Explains Ran Ever-Hadani, one of Motek's technical staff: "We decide what happens. Things are rarely decreed from above."
Price's other management innovation comes at the end of the week, when it often turns out that some of the projects can't be finished. In a conventional company, not completing such jobs is cause for finger-pointing and all nighters. At Motek a consultant who gets the work done or communicates on Thursday that it won't be completed by Friday receives a reward at the following Monday's meeting: $100 in "travel dollars," to be used during vacations for hotels or transportation. The Thursday-afternoon alert is early enough for the team to either lend extra support so that the job can be completed by Friday or to move the task to the following week and inform the customer. At Motek this process has a motto: "Fail sooner; succeed more often" — meaning that early knowledge of glitches in the work flow can help the team direct its time and energy more effectively. That short-term tactic, in turn, accelerates the pace of a long-term project.
Rewarding employees for failing sounds about as reasonable as firing someone for bringing in extra revenue. Price insists that her employees aren't rewarded for failure but for communicating about failure. It's a subtle distinction, but it lays bare the key operating principle at Motek: Smart employees manage themselves perfectly well if they have complete information.
Despite the cutting-edge business practices at Motek, the atmosphere contains none of the self-consciously hip attitudes that pervaded so many new technology companies in the late 1990s. Though young, the employees exhibit a matter-of-fact gravity about their work, readily voicing opinions about all aspects of the company. But don't expect to hear those opinions during the mandatory lunch hour-shoptalk is forbidden then. It's all part of Price's mission to promote a balanced life. "I think one of my jobs is to teach people how to put the fun back in their lives -- how to go home and spend time with their family, how to get their life back," she says.
One of the most fascinating results of Motek's democratic process involves the company's pay rates and bonuses. Everyone except the CIO and the sales manager makes one of three salaries at Motek. All three pay levels are under $70,000, and the highest is only $30,000 more than the lowest. Most of Motek's employees stay at the same pay level for years, even though nearly all of them could make more money at another company. One opportunity to improve compensation, by distributing profits, came at the end of 2000 when Motek moved into the black. But the employees, who review the company's financial statements quarterly, decided they'd rather pay down debt than award themselves a bonus.
Last year, employees determined that the amount of profits not being reinvested weren't significant enough to distribute to all staffers. So they voted to give the money solely to the technical team, who had gone for four years without a raise. They also concluded that the company couldn't afford to give everyone an additional week of vacation, as Price was advocating, so the annual vacation benefit stayed at 5 weeks.
If that seems like strangely selfless behavior from a group of employees, well, it's not entirely altruistic. Price has promised each founding employee 1% of Motek's value when it is sold. The plan grew out of Price's inability to raise venture capital in the company's early days, when she was forced to finance Motek with 18 credit cards, now wrinkled and memorialized in a ten-inch piece of Lucite on her desk. Freed from venture backers' rote prescription — the massive scale — up of employees and relentless pressure to earn a return on investment in five to seven years — Price has plotted an utterly different tack. Instead of trying to dominate a market overrun with small competitors, she plans to make Motek into the most obvious acquisition candidate for Oracle or Microsoft or whichever large company finally decides to enter and rule the warehouse-automation market. (Price predicts the industry shift will begin in about three to five years.)
For now, at least, Price's promise is an oral one. Motek's employees don't actually possess a single share of the company. Price says that giving out stock certificates is unnecessary because her employees trust her. She also knows that if she decides to sell Motek down the line, the company will be far more salable with one owner than with ten or 15. But Motek's employees seem amazingly comfortable with the arrangement. A piece of paper documenting ownership has never been necessary, says Curt Hagenlocher, one of Price's earliest employees, "because we've always felt that we do in fact have a piece of the company."
Motek's employees aren't the only ones who feel connected to the company. Thanks to Motek's aggressive mode of one-to-one marketing, its clients form a deep, mutually beneficial relationship to the firm as well. For instance, Motek literally wants to make heroes of the executives who buy Priya, catapulting their careers forward and their salaries higher. If a customer saves money by switching to Motek, the company underscores her achievement by profiling her on its website under the "Heroes" section. Price also writes a letter to each executive's boss, usually the CEO, praising her achievement and detailing the customer's savings in cost and man-hours.
The gravest threat to Motek's hothouse experiment is growth -- which has already started to strain its democratic operation. Where once employees gathered in a room and voted on companywide choices, now Price often floats a suggestion and then informally polls employees for their reaction. Where once Motek was an essentially classless company, now both the technical and sales teams have leaders, creating a new layer between Price and those employees. And while employees adore Motek's unusual benefits and business philosophy, it's hard to imagine that they'll embrace a continuing stream of high-salary hires while their own salaries remain frozen. Both Tom Martineau, the new chief information officer in charge of the technical team, and Dan Waters, who runs sales, earn salaries that are more than double the highest pay level for everyone else at the company. "A good software programmer is easily going to make over $100,000," says Paul Dorf, managing director of Compensation Resources in Upper Saddle River, N.J. "Why would employees want to work in a place where they are limited by compensation and don't get ownership?"
One answer is that Price has devised a strategy that, if all goes according to plan, will shelter her employees from the growth that could ravage Motek's culture and eat up profits that might be distributed to employees. "Price seems incredibly enlightened, and that seems to be what is making the company one of the shining lights among small companies," says Robert Levering, co-founder of the Great Place to Work Institute in San Francisco.
In the end, the management breakthrough that may prove most important for the company's future -- and most effective at binding new employees to old -- is actually Price's simplest idea: Motek's warts-and-all embrace of the people who come to work every day. It's not a fancy concept with a B-school pedigree -- and it's a far more serious gamble on human nature than most entrepreneurs are willing to make. Motek is a huge success, because Price has recognized that promoting trust and autonomy are the most important things.
Excerpted from an awesome article in Fortune Small Business, November 2003.
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