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November 2012

One week ago, America voted and I was hit with a smack to the face. It was as if Hurricane Sandy herself reached out with her furious hand and sucker-punched me, catching me off guard even though I’m sure I was looking. This November Edge is not going to head in any political direction, but rather it will discuss a core message to be gleaned from the 2012 election. The learning message for me is as brisk and as penetrating as the gusty winds of a nor’easter.

America is changing. America’s people are changing. Differing generations, differing cultures and differing values. I wonder how prepared American business is to deal with an America that is making fundamental shifts. Does the business leader of today possess the ability or the interest to flourish much of its changing talent? And just how far an organization should go to develop its people is a reasonable question. But firstly, the commitment to pay attention to demographics, psychographics and trends may offer useful insight to many organizations as they seek to improve their talent strategy for future success.

As an example, employees are becoming more concerned about their benefits packages than ever before and this concern is likely to increase as both the employee and the organization must ferret their way through the maze of new healthcare insurance regulations and costs. According to a recent study, 76% of employees indicated that they would take lower salaries to receive better benefits [1]. Your organization may be different but it could be valuable to find out if these findings align with the needs of your people.

And for companies who hire younger talent, some trends and attitudes related to this group are noteworthy. Millennials are more likely to want to work for your organization if you have a clearly defined “corporate purpose” [2]. Did you know that in the U.S., Millennials now total 79 million while Boomers total 76 million [3]? International Data Corporation (IDC) reports that there are now six billion personal mobile devices in a total world population of seven billion [4]. As you’ve noticed, your younger people (and older) are coming to work digitized and connected to the world of media and information like never before. How does the organization best manage and actually optimize this?

The above are merely examples of trends and findings but the key point is whether you think it’s a good idea to look at and consider trends like these as you plan for the future. Maybe it is time to give your workforce a second look as well as your assumptions about it. Over the years I have delivered a few change management programs to leaders in organizations to help them manage organization-driven change. Now, in what appears to be a turnabout, some organizations are being met with change driven by shifts in the workforce. My vote is for keeping an eye on this to avoid a possible sucker-punch.

Thanksgiving is on our doorstep. It’s always my honor and privilege to thank you once again for your partnership and your friendship. Happy Thanksgiving.


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