Succession Planning: Baby Boomers, Millennials and the Workforce Staffing Model

by Kim Newsom Bridges, Vice President for Child Support Solutions, Xerox Public Sector Solutions

Baby boomers are retiring at a rapid rate. Millennials are more likely to change jobs and potentially employers as well. This is leading to constant transition within a workforce that for many years has been fairly stable. In fact, in some areas they are anticipating over 50 percent of their staff retiring in the next two years. The silver tsunami is here.

Due to this phenomena, several of my child support colleagues and I have been leading conversations regarding the triangle of hiring, leadership development and succession planning. It starts off with a typical “which came first, the chicken or the egg” conversation. Without a strong triangle consisting of all three components, any workforce staffing model will have gaps. But if I had to pick the most important component, it would likely be making sure that the right people are being hired for the environment and culture that thrives in your organization.

While the recession did delay some retirements of the baby boomer generation workers, they are still leaving the workforce in record numbers. A recent article from the PEW Research Foundation shares that Millennials have just passed Gen X’ers as the largest generation in the workforce. In order to maintain them in your workforce, it is probably important to understand some things about them. A survey by Beyond.com identified some key differences between what Millennials believe about themselves and how they are seen by human resources professionals. One item of stark difference is that HR Professionals believe that Millennials are only about 1 percent loyal to their employers verses Millennials who state that 82 percent of them are loyal to their employers. What a difference!  The key here is truly on the perception of what “loyal” means. To HR professionals, it means staying in the job at the employer for extended periods of time. To Millennials, it means that they will give everything for the success of that employer while they are employed there. Millennials are also the most educated group of employees ever. However, attached with this education often comes student loan debt that seems insurmountable to them. Thus, they have a need to understand their income potential as their career path develops.

Millennials will rise to leadership roles in organizations at a faster rate than other generations because of the leadership retiring with the baby boomer generation. They want opportunities to lead in their organizations. They are also looking to have mentors that can assist in preparing them for those leadership roles. Millennials want to be recognized, not always in compensation or advancement, but as appreciation for the work and achievements that they have made and they appreciate feedback. They also like to have a plan.  One of the best and newest ideas that has emerged from our conversations is to not only have an organizational succession plan, but to have an individual growth and opportunities plan for each team member as well. That individual plan should start the moment that they enter your workforce to have the biggest impact.

The opportunity to participate in these conversations and learn about best practices and new ideas from peer leaders in the child support and human services programs has proven to be invaluable. Each time, all of the people in the discussions come away with new ideas to develop and maintain a dynamic workforce staffing plan for the benefit of their organization and staff members. I would encourage everyone to watch for more opportunities to participate in these discussions.

2 thoughts on “Succession Planning: Baby Boomers, Millennials and the Workforce Staffing Model

  1. How about the GENX workers? This blog completely negates all of the GENX workers that have company knowledge, loyalty and are primed to lead.

  2. Kim Newsom Bridges June 30, 2016 - Reply

    Good point, Dina – there’s also the generation between baby boomers and Millennials to take into account. As the post cites, Millennials have just passed Gen X’ers as the largest generation in the workforce, so we felt the conversation clearly has to prioritize their role, but that doesn’t mean the Gen X’ers are left out of the conversation. Maybe we’ll focus a future blog post on their issues and concerns.

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