How the Age Bubble Is Transforming the Workplace— and What You Can Do to Prepare

J. Tim Griffin, P.E., MBA, LEED AP
Posted on: 09/18/15
Written by: J. Tim Griffin, P.E., MBA, LEED AP

Six years ago, the increasing workforce shortage problem was already readily apparent. The demographics of the workforce are undergoing a dramatic change.


So, what was some of the advice being given to help firms prepare for the generational shift in the work force? At that time, Bruce Tulgan at RainMakerThinking®, a consultant on young people in the workplace, gave five key tactics which are still applicable today:

1. Forestall the retirement of as many older workers as possible. Whenever feasible, support semi-retirement through flexible work arrangements: flexible schedules, telecommuting, and flexible conditions of employment. Build giant reserve armies of retirees. Immediately begin the process of capturing and transferring the knowledge, skill, and wisdom of older workers. This could involve building an online knowledge archive.

2. Call upon Boomers to resume their youthful role as change leaders. Now is the time to abandon hierarchical norms, sink-or-swim management, and one-size-fits-all career paths.

3. Prepare Gen Xers for supervisory responsibility and leadership roles. Gen Xers are now entering their prime working years in short supply and full of attitude. Xers want status, authority, and rewards, but often resist traditional management roles. Create new paths to leadership, redesign leadership roles, and develop the new generation of leaders for those roles.

4. Accelerate the professional development of Millennial employees. Recruit new employees at younger ages, get them up to speed faster, and trust them with important roles involving critical tasks and responsibilities. There’s no choice; there won’t be enough older experienced workers to get all the work done. Teach managers to coach these high-maintenance younger workers every step of the way on every single thing—from time management to customer service.

5. Be prepared to exert more pressure to get more and better work out of fewer people. Everyone will have to work smarter, faster, better, and probably longer and harder, too. Highly skilled, hands-on, coaching-style management will still be the key to success.


About the Author: J. Tim Griffin, P.E., MBA, LEED AP has published numerous management articles and trained hundreds of design firm principals across North America in best business practices. In addition to his work as a PSMJ consultant working with A/E firm leaders to develop the full potential of their teams, Tim is a Partner and Branch Manager with RMF Engineering, Inc. an engineering consulting firm that works internationally. This article is an excerpt from his book Winning with Millennials. In addition, Tim is speaking on this topic at the 2015 A/E/C Industry Summit, December 3-4, in San Francisco.

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