Demographic changes taking place in the U.S. as the world ages may create a workforce crisis by 2030, according to Rainer Strack. Strack discussed the issue in “The workforce crisis of 2030 — and how to start solving it now” his 2014 TED talk. What some might not realize is the extent of these changes.
One of the biggest changes involves the Latino population. According to the Pew Research Center, there are presently an estimated 53 million Latinos living in the U.S. of which an estimated 10–12 million are stuck in the immigration limbo due to the stalemate of our political system. This 53 million makes the U.S. no. 2 in the world with most Latinos only after Mexico. It also makes the U.S. no. 5 in the world where Spanish is spoken.
Organizations also should keep in mind, the average age for the Anglo community is 40 compared to 27 in the Latino community. For every Anglo who dies one is born, while for every Latino who dies eight are born, and every 30 seconds 2 non-Latinos retire while one Latino turns 18. By 2017 Latinos will be the largest entrants into the workforce, and Latinos are also the largest millennial group.
This data has implications for organizational leaders because there are numerous opportunities and challenges associated with this demographic. The challenges will come if leaders ignore the changing demographics and assume things will work themselves out, or that they won’t be a big issue for organizations. The opportunities come for organizations that empower talent leaders to guide a comprehensive, holistic, and proactive approach to workforce management and development. That includes leadership and employee development, new employee orientation, succession planning, mentoring, talent management, and organizational/employee assessment among others.
For instance, culturally speaking there are some differences between the Hispanic/Latino workforce and its primarily white male baby boomer supervisors. Latinos/Hispanics are used to working interdependently, often put family first and have a marked respect for authority. Anglos, on the other hand, are often independent, put themselves first and feel comfortable challenging authority. These traits are not utterly attributable to any one group, of course. Nor is one necessarily wrong while the other is right. But there are differences that can present challenges — and opportunities — especially when it comes to leader-employee relations.
The following are some ideas for chief executives to consider:
- Leaders should ensure their organizations have an effective leadership development strategy so their leaders are set up for success and understand what is expected of them when it comes to managing employees. That strategy should include a diversity component to help leaders better understand this growing, diverse workforce.
- Employee development should begin with new employee orientation so new employees understand what is expected of them and how to maneuver in their new organization. There also should be a career development aspect so these new employees understand how not only to succeed but how to grow within their new organization. Development should be available for all new employees, but the focus here is to not only compete with other organizations recruiting this new growing demographic workforce, but to create mechanisms to ensure retention.
- From a talent management perspective, leaders should ensure there is a comprehensive succession program in place for future leadership opportunities that includes development and mentoring, especially with the Latino demographic in mind.
- Last, leaders should ensure employee assessments are common. Assessing the Latino demographic in particular, how this growing group fits into the organization and feels about the level of inclusion in the environment can be valuable. This can be done with an annual employee survey and focus groups.
Anglo workers are aging and getting closer to retirement, and the current and future workforce will consist of more millennials and minorities. This diversity in age and demographics will require organizations to adapt and make their companies into welcoming, development-centric, inclusive environments. Organizations that do this in a positive, proactive and holistic manner will be in a better position to compete in the future. Talent leaders will be a key strategic enabler in positioning organizations for success in this changing environment.
Edwin Mouriño-Ruiz is a U.S. Air Force veteran and a multi-industry human resources development professional. This story originally appeared in Talent Economy’s sister publication, Chief Learning Officer.