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Workforce of the Future – Workforce of the Past

We spend a lot of time focusing on the workforce of the future and our needs as a business to transfer knowledge and adapt our solutions to the next generations coming in. In these conversations, I picture our organizations watching the existing employees file out the door to retirement as these new recruits walk in, passing the virtual baton of knowledge. However, that is rarely the case; hopefully, there is overlap where both populations are present.

During this time, it’s critical that you also honor these existing employees, as they are still critical to your future. Consider these tips for managing a multigenerational workforce:

  • Create Mentor Roles: Create formal roles to allow these individuals to function as mentors to the new teams. This should be seen as an important role; provide these individuals the needed support throughout the mentoring process. This may mean freeing up time during the day to mentor and providing additional compensation.
  • Provide Alternatives to Retirement: Many individuals are ready to retire but nervous about no longer working every day. Consider moving these individuals to a part-time status, allowing them to continue mentoring, acting as a subject matter expert for training, or providing other degrees of support during the transition process.
  • Develop Multiple Modalities of Training: We focus so much on this future workforce that we often forget about training needs and that we have legacy learners as well. Consider providing training in two different formats until you have completely made the transition to all next generation learners so as not to disenfranchise your existing employees.
  • Consider Next Generation Training for Non-Next Gen: While your new employees may find technology adoption natural, some of your existing employees might not. Consider offering training on new pieces of technology so that your existing employees can be comfortable as well. Technology that may seem simple, like using mobile devices, generating QR codes, and even connecting to Wi-Fi, may be a challenge to your existing population.
  • Include In-Person Social Learning: In a world of social learning, blogs, and communities, you may be unintentionally leaving out your non-digital population. Consider having in-person communities as well for your learners who prefer in-person interactions.

These are just a few examples of modifications you may need to try while managing a multigenerational workforce. If you don’t honor these individuals and the work they provided in the past, you run the risk of them leaving before you can complete the knowledge transfer process.

One last reminder: Change is hard. Change is hard for the organization and all the people within. Be considerate in how you communicate change and embrace change. Sometimes over-communicating and allowing 1:1 time for discussion can be critical to having a stable organization.

About the Authors

Sheri Weppel
Sheri Weppel started her career as an art teacher covered in finger paint, clearly teaching people about out-of-the-box thinking (or at least off-the-construction-paper thinking). While working on her master’s degree in Instructional Design and Development at Lehigh University, she realized that we could learn a lot from the public-school classroom. Concepts like micro-learning, learning styles, gaming, and training on demand were common in grade school, but were considered new concepts in the corporate sector. Because one degree is never enough, Sheri continued her studies at Lehigh with a focus on Gaming for Instruction. In her spare time, she spent her evenings losing to her husband in Scrabble and wanting to throw the letter Q across the room, making her realize the emotional attachments we can have to games. If we could harness that desire to succeed, compete, or win to a learning environment, what impact could we have on learner motivation? Countless games of Scrabble later, Sheri started at GP Strategies as an Instructional Designer and was able to inject those concepts into solutions for her customers. This is often a challenge for customers that want to use gaming but often don’t believe they have the time or budget required to successfully launch into the gaming space. Sheri is driven to help these clients find a balance in embedding gaming elements into instruction in a practical manner. In the past nine years, Sheri has held many roles within the organization, from instructional designer to sales lead for blended learning, and is now focusing on the off-the-shelf product GPiLEARN+, growing the product into a true blended learning solution. Regardless of her role, Sheri is always focused on working with customers to help build impactful training solutions that focus on the needs of all populations. She helps clients determine specifically when to incorporate gaming versus using hands-on, traditional approaches. When she is not working, Sheri enjoys having adventures with her dog Olivia, attending barre classes, and learning new three-letter words that begin with the letter Q.

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