The purpose of this chapter is to respond to the last task of the committee’s charge: to “provide conclusions and recommendations in terms of…changes that are warranted to better recruit and retain the best employees” (see Box 1-1 in Chapter 1). The committee was asked to review the research literature on generational attitudes and behaviors, and as discussed earlier in the report, this body of work is quite limited in terms of distilling evidence-based advice for workforce management. However, the committee’s work in undertaking this study uncovered a number of challenges faced by employers and growing interest in improving workforce management. In addition, there are lessons to be learned about the process for developing and implementing effective workforce policies. This chapter provides alternative ways of thinking about workforce challenges perceived to be generational issues, and highlights the need for repeatable processes that allow employers to identify and address their workforce challenges.
As discussed in Chapter 2, the composition of the workforce is changing, leading to greater diversity among workers with regard to gender, race/ethnicity, and age. As a result, many employers today face the challenge of effectively maintaining and managing a diverse workforce, including employees of a wide range of ages, even as the nature of work is also changing. Faced with sometimes rapid changes in the job market, discontinuities in the rates of new hires and retirements, and evolving technologies that require new skills and communication approaches, employers are seeking ways to capitalize on the knowledge and experiences of a more diverse and aging workforce while responding to a new set of employee expectations around the conditions of work, including job flexibility, work–life balance, and
professional development. Some general policies and practices appear to be effective in this regard across most organizations. For example, virtually all workers in the United States expect a safe working environment. Because there are many different types of employers and employees, however, each employer will also face its own unique set of workforce management challenges. In many cases, the effectiveness of specific practices will depend on such factors as the characteristics and size of the workforce; the culture of the organization; and the demands on and expectations for workers, as well as workers’ own needs and expectations (Lawler and Boudreau, 2012).
The need for caution in applying generalizations with respect to workforce management is nowhere more evident than in the subject of this study. As discussed previously, empirical support is lacking for meaningful generational differences in work-related attitudes and behaviors. The most sophisticated research to date examining changes in work values over time in the United States attributes these changes more to evolving work contexts and aging processes than to differences among generations (e.g., Kalleberg and Marsden, 2019).
For employers contemplating revision of management practices to make them more effective, then, a generational perspective can be misguided, and may simply perpetuate stereotypes that likely do not apply to today’s diverse workforces. Nor does a generational perspective reflect the individual differences in life and career experiences or in the abilities, attitudes, and values of the members of generational groups. For example, some 50-year-old workers will want to retire at age 55, while others will wish to work into their 70s. Policies and practices based on age, generation, or other personal characteristic are likely to be applied to some who do not desire or need a specific offering and exclude others who do.
Conclusion 6-1: The notion of generational differences will continue to be appealing in the absence of compelling alternative explanations for real or perceived differences among people in the workplace. However, many of the stereotypes about generations result from imprecise use of the terminology in the popular literature and recent research, and thus cannot adequately inform workforce management decisions. Further, categorizing a group of workers by observable attributes can lead to overgeneralizations and improper assumptions about those workers, perhaps even discrimination.
This chapter builds on the discussion in Chapter 2, examining the implications for workforce management of the broad and discrete changes affecting the nature of work. The focus here is on recruitment and retention and the associated activities and policies that could help employers maintain qualified and motivated employees. First, the discussion draws on examples
from selected employment sectors to illustrate workforce management challenges. It then highlights some of the workforce management opportunities afforded by the changing contexts of work. Next, the chapter considers the legal constraints on workforce management and how generation-based decisions could be interpreted in light of existing employment laws. The chapter concludes with the committee’s recommendations for effective workforce management.
In undertaking this study, the committee sought to appreciate existing workforce challenges, particularly those that might be driving the need to understand generational differences. In so doing, we heard from personnel and readiness staff from the military, human resources consultants, and corporate speakers, and we reviewed numerous public documents on workforce issues. We recognized that all employers face some personnel issues that are unique to them and their industry and different from those of other workplaces, while some issues are similar across all workplaces. For example, scheduling challenges may be specific to employers with jobs that require a 24/7 physical presence in the workplace, but almost all employers must learn to manage an increasingly diverse workforce and successfully incorporate new technologies into their jobs and employment practices.
In general, improvements in U.S. labor market conditions (e.g., lower unemployment rates) coincide with greater difficulty in recruiting as well as increased turnover (Petrosky-Nadeau and Valletta, 2019), whereas a recession can have the opposite effect. In the period 2010 to 2019, the number of job openings nationwide increased by 138 percent (Work Institute, 2019). The unemployment rate was at a historically low level—3.6 percent in January 2020 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS], 2020c); yet by April 2020, the unemployment rate had increased precipitously to 19.7 percent before decreasing to 13.3 percent in May (Rosenberg and Long, 2020).1 Because the committee conducted much of its work during favorable job conditions, we heard a great deal about employers’ concerns regarding recruitment and retention. Certainly, the unpredictability of employment during the COVID-19 pandemic and its longer-term impacts have created new workforce concerns for employers. Nevertheless, lessons can be learned from earlier responses to different challenges faced by employers.
1 News media, such as the Washington Post, also reported that the Bureau of Labor Statistics made a “misclassification error” that likely underestimated the unemployment rate by 3 percentage points. Regardless of the actual numbers, the unemployment rate has increased dramatically in a short period of time (https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/05/may-2020-jobs-report-misclassification-error).
The subsections that follow describe workforce challenges in greater detail for certain large employment sectors: recruitment in the military, retention in the military, resiliency for first responders, flexibility and delayed retirements in nursing, diversifying the workforce in education, and turnover in hospitality. These sectors were chosen in part because of the study sponsor (the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences) and in part because of their prevalence in the generational literature. The examples described here provide a way to appreciate how broad shifts in the nature of work and the workforce have played out in different employment contexts.
Two points about these examples are worth noting. First, while the committee found a large amount of public information in the way of advice and training on managing different generations (see Chapter 3) and of research on generational differences aimed at informing employment practices (see Appendix A), we found no public documents linking specific human resources policies and practices to generational issues. Second, what works in one industry may not work as well in another or in the military context. For example, the military lacks some of the flexibility that private industry has to incentivize its recruits and personnel. But on the other hand, as a large employer, it has greater resources with which to research and evaluate solutions to the workforce problems it faces. All organizations, large and small, will have to consider the costs and benefits of investing in workforce strategies and determine how much effort should be expended.
Shifting Strategies for Military Recruitment
In recent years, the military services have been revisiting their marketing and recruiting strategies to address challenges with bringing qualified youth into their ranks (Grisales, 2019). For example, the Army missed its recruitment goal in 2018 for the first time since 2005, falling short by 6,500 soldiers (Cox, 2019). The focus of military recruiting for many years has been on marketing to youth and young adults to encourage people aged 17–24 to consider service in the military. Headlines and quotes from recruiting command personnel draw attention to efforts to appeal to members of “generation Z”; however, adjustments to recruitment strategies have less to do with different work values of young adults than with new, preferred avenues of communication. The military is targeting growing numbers of youth who lack family members with prior military service able to share information about military jobs, and is trying to capitalize on new communication platforms (Fadel and Morris, 2019; Myers, 2018). Leveraging new tools and forms of social interaction, the military services are using a variety of communication technologies to reach their intended audience, such as social media platforms (e.g., Instagram), videogames,
and online advertising (Pawlyk, 2019). The Army also launched a new advertising campaign titled “What’s Your Warrior?” to showcase various occupational opportunities it has to offer. In moving away from a combat-centric message, the Army aims to improve awareness of these opportunities and correct misconceptions about its jobs among today’s youth and young adults (Brading, 2019).
The military must recruit hundreds of thousands of individuals each year, most of them young adults. All members of the military must meet specific requirements regarding health, education, moral character, and aptitude (U.S. Government Accountability Office [GAO], 2005). Nationwide, however, 71 percent of young people aged 17–24 do not qualify for military service. One factor contributing to the reduction in eligible recruits is the rising obesity rates among the U.S. population discussed in Chapter 2 (Maxey, Bishop-Josef, and Goodman, 2018).
Although broad societal trends and the realities of military life may reduce interest in military service and make it more difficult for the services to meet their recruiting goals (Wenger et al., 2019), the services can (and do) adjust their strategies and policies to address recruiting challenges. In general, the military services can, within some limits, change how stringently they set entry standards for new recruits (including which and how many conditions they waive at entry), how many recruiting resources (e.g., recruiters) they deploy, and how many recruits they are willing to enlist but hold until basic training slots become available. Congress also plays a role in trying to improve military recruitment and retention—for example, by enacting laws that authorize the services to provide educational benefits, retention bonuses, and the like.
Military Leave Options to Balance Work and Life Needs
In addition to recruitment, the military, like other organizations, wants to retain personnel who perform well and fill critical functions. In recent years, the military services have been implementing new approaches to talent management to respond to what have been termed “shifting generational values,” as well as to remain competitive with industry (U.S. Army, 2019, p. 3). Promotion and monetary incentives have in the past been primary levers for retention. In recent years, however, the military also has developed a number of leave options, including family leave and sabbaticals, to allow its personnel to manage personal responsibilities and thereby reduce attrition.
Military service places significant demands on military personnel, including extended periods of time away from family (e.g., Segal, 1986). A recent National Academies report points to “a long history of evidence that families are important for military retention”; the report cites as an example the effect of spouses’ support (or the lack thereof) for continued military
service on service members’ retention intentions (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2019, p. 37). However, not all threats to retention affect everyone in the military workforce to the same degree. In the case of family influence on military service, the same National Academies report states that “family-related issues may be even more important to the retention of female than male service members,” ostensibly because family obligations generally fall more on women than on men (2019, p. 38). Recent studies focused on the U.S. Air Force (Keller et al., 2018) and U.S. Coast Guard (Hall et al., 2019) provide further evidence of the challenges for female service members in balancing their military careers with family obligations, especially those related to childrearing.
The military and Congress have recently made changes to increase the amount of leave for those with primary caregiver responsibilities for newborn children, including children who are adopted. In 2016, then Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced plans to extend paid maternity leave from 6 to 12 weeks and parental leave from 10 to 14 days (Ferdinando, 2016). Legislative changes followed: In the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Congress included authorization for the military to offer up to 12 weeks of leave for women who give birth, up to 6 weeks for individuals who are the primary caregiver following adoption, and up to 21 days for a secondary caregiver following either childbirth or adoption.2
The military services also have established programs that allow service members to take sabbaticals, or extended leaves of absence from active duty service, to pursue personal or professional goals (e.g., attain a college degree) or to meet personal-life needs (e.g., raise a family). Reasons cited for providing sabbaticals include a desire to retain talented service members amidst perceived competition from the private sector and perceived changes in societal values regarding work–life balance (see, e.g., Thie, Harrell, and Thibault, 2003).3
2 See Section 521 of Public Law 114-328. These authorizations apply only to active duty personnel, personnel from the reserve component performing active Reserve or Guard duty, or reserve component personnel who may be recalled to active duty or mobilized for a period of 12 months or longer.
3Thie, Harrell, and Thibault (2003, p. 1) were asked by the Department of Defense (DoD) to examine the “feasibility and advisability of extended leaves for officers” in the military. The authors cite DoD’s 2002 “Social Compact” as a “people-oriented motivation” for offering sabbaticals to military officers (p. 2). They note that this compact is “DoD’s public acknowledgment that the department relies on a volunteer military in a changing context” that includes increasing numbers of young adults attending college and workers placing greater value on work–life balance (p. 2). They also indicate that DoD was concerned about private-sector competition for talent and wanted to provide workforce policies more in line with those of private-sector companies.
Although other sabbatical programs in the military may exist, the following are two that have been available for several years and are still offered. The first is the U.S. Coast Guard’s Temporary Separation Program, or TEMPSEP, which was formally established in 2001 (Janaro, 2016).4 TEMPSEP allows Coast Guard members on active duty to take up to 2 years of leave with the opportunity to return to active duty without an additional service obligation (Janaro, 2016). The second is the Career Intermission Pilot Program (CIPP), which was originally developed by the U.S. Navy. In the fiscal year 2009 NDAA, Congress authorized use of CIPP by all of the services.5 This program allows a limited number of eligible active duty service members to take 3-year sabbaticals with the expectation of an additional service obligation upon return.6 Members who participate in CIPP must affiliate with the Individual Ready Reserves, which allows for the provision of compensation and training during the sabbatical and facilitates the transition back to active duty (GAO, 2015).
Although TEMPSEP and CIPP were established to help the military services retain talent, service members have not utilized these programs as widely as expected. Recent studies have uncovered possible reasons for this underutilization: legal and military service restrictions limiting eligibility, and perceptions among service members that using the programs will negatively impact their military careers (e.g., less desirable assignments upon return and reduced promotion opportunity) (GAO, 2015; Hall et al., 2019). The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended that the Department of Defense (DoD) implement an evaluation plan to determine whether CIPP was meeting the Navy’s retention goals for the program (GAO, 2015). While it is unclear whether DoD formally implemented an evaluation plan for CIPP, Congress has since removed its pilot program status and made it a permanent authority. It is now referred to by law as the Career Intermission Program (CIP).7
4 According to Janaro (2016), TEMPSEP has its origins in the Care of Newborn Children (CNC) program established by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1991. The CNC program was aimed at retaining “high performing” women serving on active duty who had given birth.
5 Congress authorized up to 20 officers and up to 20 enlisted members from each military service to enter CIPP each year. Congress also required that participants “have completed their initial active duty service agreement and are not currently receiving a critical skills retention bonus” and specified that for each month on sabbatical, the member owes 2 months of service upon return (GAO, 2015, p. 4). Congress extended the pilot program through 2019 in the fiscal year 2015 NDAA.
6 Not only are eligibility requirements set in law, but each military service can impose additional eligibility requirements.
7 See Section 551 of the fiscal year 2019 NDAA: https://www.congress.gov/115/crpt/hrpt676/CRPT-115hrpt676.pdf.
Resiliency for First Responders
The first responder industry comprises many occupations, including law enforcement, fire safety, emergency medical services, and other areas of public safety. As in many industries, first responder organizations are concerned about changes in the capability and experience of the workforce as older personnel leave or retire and are replaced by younger workers. This concern is driven in part by the fact that first responder jobs are often physical in nature, and first responders therefore tend to be young (Britton, 2018). Thus, the field must continually recruit and retain employees who can meet the physical demands of the work (Hanifen, 2017). The industry also faces challenges around integrating new technologies into its operations and building a diverse workforce (Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA], 2019). At the same time, moreover, there is growing recognition that changes in the work and threat environments may be increasing occupational stress, and organizations are seeking strategies for enhancing the well-being and resilience of the first responder workforce (Institute of Medicine, 2013, 2014). During the COVID-19 crisis, the pressures on first responders, particularly those who provide medical services, have exacerbated the stressful nature of their jobs (Cha, 2020; Wang, 2020).
In the popular literature, these workforce concerns are often expressed in terms of generations, as illustrated by government and industry articles titled “The Challenges of Managing Millennial Firefighters after Baby Boomers Retire” (Hanifen, 2017), “Generational Perspectives in Emergency Management” (Kirkland and Walsh, 2017), and “Millennials Might Just Be What the Fire Service Needs” (FEMA, 2019). Some of the advice offered on recruiting and retaining younger workers suggests adapting recruitment and training practices to bring them more in line with the stereotypes of millennials, including adjusting to such preferences and habits as use of social media and video and an emphasis on teamwork (Britton, 2018; FEMA, 2019; Wylie, 2017). Some advice focuses on minimizing the supposed worst traits of millennials (Eldridge, 2012) and some on leveraging the perceived strengths of younger workers. For example, an article published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) states that the traits of millennials—diverse, fitness-focused, and adept at technology—are exactly what fire departments need right now (FEMA, 2019), though as discussed in this report, the traits attributed to millennials are more likely representative of period effects affecting all workers more generally.
Flexible Scheduling and Delayed Retirements in Nursing
Shortages in the nursing profession continue to be a problem as the need for registered nurses intensifies in response to population aging and
health care reforms (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2019; BLS, 2017). Although there have been some reports of furloughs of nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for nurses remains greater than the supply (Dreher, 2020; Pitts, 2020). The accelerating rate of nurse retirements adds to the problem, posing risks for patient care, institutional memory, and leadership (Buerhaus et al., 2017; Stimpfel and Dickson, 2019). Health care organizations are considering strategies for retaining experienced nurses longer, attracting workers to the profession, and ensuring continuity in health care as nurses enter and leave the workforce. A number of articles in the generational literature focus on nursing (see Appendix A). While these studies fail to evaluate generational differences appropriately (see the discussion of methodological limitations in Chapter 4), it is interesting to reflect on what motivates such studies—the perception that understanding these differences is key to addressing issues of turnover, retention, management, leadership, job satisfaction, and occupational stressors.
Continuity in the nursing workforce and a balance in the numbers of experienced nurses and incoming professionals are important factors in enabling organizations to maintain the expertise required to provide specialized clinical and care management services. The transition of a newly licensed nurse from novice to expert takes several years (Benner, Tanner, and Chesla, 2013), and potentially longer for the shift from general nursing to a specialized field such as obstetrics or perioperative care. Employers of nurses thus face the dual challenges of retaining nurses nearing retirement age and rapidly developing and retaining the skills of their newly licensed counterparts.
Research has found that while their profession holds great intrinsic value for many nurses (e.g., satisfaction in providing care to patients), other factors, including pay, staffing levels, and support from nursing leadership, contribute to their retention across all age groups (Dols, Chargular, and Martinez, 2019; Stimpfel et al., 2019). Barriers to retaining nurses are also common across all generations (ages). They include (1) concerns about physical health, particularly during epidemics and notably among older nurses, but not limited to this age group because nurses of all ages can be physically limited from time to time; (2) inflexible schedules and long work hours (e.g., 12-hour shifts); (3) limited opportunities for retraining as health care technologies and tools change; and (4) concerns about occupational safety (Stimpfel et al., 2019; Wieck, Dols, and Landrum, 2010). Flexibility in schedules and/or duty assignments is one potential strategy for accommodating and retaining nurses with physical health issues (e.g., recovering from injury or surgery but able to work in some capacity) or nurses who need time to manage personal demands (e.g., care of children or elderly parents). Part-time positions or the option of split or reduced shifts of 4–6 hours could be an ideal situation for some nurses and manageable for some employers.
Education: Building a Diverse Teacher Workforce
Many states are reporting shortages of qualified teachers (Cross, 2017), and some scholars have argued that the educator workforce is affected by generational issues (e.g., Anthony, 2018; Lovely and Buffum, 2007; Petty, 2013). The difficulty of retaining relatively new teachers has at times been attributed to the notion that millennials’ beliefs about work differ from those of previous generations (e.g., Anthony, 2018). However, few studies have examined teachers’ work attitudes, and the one study the committee identified that compares work ethics among teachers uses a cross-sectional research design. Thus this study is not methodologically rigorous enough to support conclusions about an entire generation (see the discussion in Chapter 4). Other evidence points to the primacy of contextual factors (e.g., working conditions) over group differences.
Educators new to the profession today are more likely than those of the past to change careers and leave the profession within a few years. The predominant reason reported for leaving is being unhappy with work conditions (e.g., salary, student behavior, school leadership). However, turnover rates are not equivalent across schools, with about half of all teacher turnover in American public schools occurring in only 25 percent of schools. Higher turnover rates are associated with schools that are located in high-poverty neighborhoods and in urban or rural (as opposed to suburban) regions, and in those that have large minority populations (Ingersoll et al., 2018; Walker, 2019).
The makeup of the educator workforce has changed over time. First, it is aging, according to data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics since 1987. Even with increased retirements since 1987, the proportion of educators aged 50 and older rose from 20 percent in the 1987–1988 school year to 31 percent in the 2011–2012 school year (Ingersoll and Merrill, 2017). Moreover, the gender gap in the K–12 teaching workforce increased, with the number of female teachers greatly outnumbering that of male teachers (Ingersoll et al., 2018).8
In addition, although more teachers of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds have entered the teaching workforce in recent years, there remains a large gap between the proportion of minority students in U.S. schools and the proportion of minority teachers in the educator workforce (Ingersoll et al., 2018). This gap is due primarily to a decrease in the number of white students that has coincided with an increase in the number of minority students, as opposed to a failure to recruit more diverse teachers. Specifically, the growth in minority teachers in the United States was three times greater
8 Data describing the characteristics of the early childhood education workforce are limited and somewhat problematic compared with data on K–12 teachers (Workgroup on the Early Childhood Workforce and Professional Development, 2016).
than the growth in white teachers between 1987 and 2016. Increased recruitment and retention of teachers of color is an important need because research shows that when students of color learn from teachers of color, they accrue academic benefits; moreover, when the diversity of teachers in a school is higher, those teachers feel less isolated and are less likely to leave the school or the profession (Carver-Thomas, 2018).
Turnover in Hospitality
There are three primary workforce trends that present challenges for the hospitality industry: (1) the aging population places higher demands on leisure services from retirees and limits the pool of recruits to the industry, because it is dominated by younger workers (Baum, 2010); (2) its image of fun and glamor is positive for customers but can be unappealing to some as a career choice (Barron, Leask, and Fyall, 2014); and (3) the presence of mixed ages in the hospitality workforce has created tensions as older workers manage turnover among younger workers and aim to provide the best service to customers (Barron, Leask, and Fyall, 2014). A shortage of qualified staff in the hospitality industry can mean longer waits and fewer amenities for guests. The industry is challenged with very high turnover rates due to variations in staffing needs by season and a high proportion of young adults and students in the workforce (National Restaurant Association, 2019). The president of the American Hotel and Lodging Association has said that “the single greatest challenge facing our industry is filling essential jobs to ensure the quality service and amenities our guests expect and deserve” (Schwartz, 2019).
The response to the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated abrupt changes to the hospitality industry as many businesses were required to shut down or reduce services for a period of time. The unemployment rate in this industry skyrocketed to almost 40 percent in April 2020.9 As conditions improve and businesses are allowed to offer a wider variety of personal services, the public’s demand for leisure activities is likely to be high, and the hospitality industry will have to ramp back up quickly. It may also face new demands regarding occupational and public safety. Employers in the industry may once again turn to understanding the next generation of young workers.
Attention to generational groups in the hospitality industry has been offered as a potential way to understand, recruit, and retain employees (American Hotel and Lodging Association, 2016). Industry websites post such articles as “Attracting and Hiring Millennials for Your Restaurant”
and “4 HR Strategies for Optimizing a Multigenerational Workforce in the Hospitality Industry.”10
A number of articles in the generational literature have focused on the hospitality industry (see Appendix A). These studies have attempted to further understand turnover (e.g., Brown, Thomas, and Bosselman, 2015), differences in work values (e.g., Chen and Choi, 2008), and job satisfaction (e.g., Kim, Knutson, and Choi, 2016). A systematic review of the generational research on hospitality workers makes observations similar to those in this report: the studies reviewed rely predominantly on cross-sectional research designs, and a paradigm shift is needed in how research considers generations of workers. The review finds that, much as in generational research in other contexts, age and period effects are minimally discussed, and little attention is paid to variances within and across generations that may better explain the complexity of generational issues in the hospitality industry (Sakdiyakorn and Wattanacharoensil, 2018).
The above examples illustrate some of the management challenges frequently mentioned in the literature reviewed for this study. The committee observed that many questions were raised about how to (1) manage the youngest generation of workers, which is touted as the historically most diverse group of workers; (2) recruit the new generation, as well as workers of varied ages; (3) train and develop workers from multiple generations (or more appropriately, those at different career stages); and (4) manage the varying needs of workers with regard to job flexibility. This section examines these management opportunities and some of the recent research with regard to capitalizing on a diverse workforce and increasing attention to recruitment strategies, professional development, and flexible work arrangements.
Although it is difficult to directly attribute specific organizational benefits, including productivity and profitability, to a diverse workforce alone, having a diverse workforce offers obvious advantages, many of which likely do lead to productivity and profitability. Employers are more
10 See https://www.gourmetmarketing.net/attracting-hiring-millennials-restaurant and https://www.trinet.com/insights/4-hr-strategies-for-optimizing-a-multigenerational-workforce-in-the-hospitality-industry.
likely to meet staffing needs when they recruit from the entire population of qualified applicants and not just a subset. Tapping into a larger pool of qualified workers from different racial, ethnic, gender, and age groups often provides access to talent with multiple perspectives, leading to better ideas and solutions and improved quality of business outputs under the right conditions (Ely and Thomas, 2001; Kamarck, 2019; Richard and Miller, 2013).
Many organizations strive to maintain a workforce that represents their customer base, finding that meeting societal expectations enhances the organization’s reputation and is profitable (Holger, 2019; Hunt, Layton, and Prince, 2015; Lorenzo and Reeves, 2018; Zhang, 2020). In addition, complying with legal mandates has obvious benefits, especially if the organization is a federal contractor. Thus, the goal for many organizations is to form a workforce that represents a variety of experiences, cultures, and personal attributes. Proactive efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity, together with a strong commitment to diversity among senior management (Marquis et al., 2008), are important in creating a workforce that works together effectively to achieve organizational goals. Such efforts can in turn be self-reinforcing, helping to attract a more diverse workforce as well as retain existing talent (Buttner and Lowe, 2017; Li et al., 2020). Boehm, Kunze, and Bruch (2014), for example, found that a culture supportive of age diversity and fair implementation of employee benefits was a key factor in improving organizational performance and reducing reported intentions to quit.
While useful in many respects, a diverse workforce can also pose management challenges. Increased diversity often leads to perceptions of unfairness; research indicates, for example, that age diversity can create a climate of favoritism with negative effects (Kunze, Boehm, and Brunch, 2011). Diversity can also lead to tension in work teams and concerns about navigating training and management among the various groups of workers. Proactive attention to inclusive practices can help address such issues (Turban, Wu, and Zhang, 2019). Such practices are designed to enable all individuals and groups to feel welcome, valued, respected, and supported as they contribute to an organization’s mission and success (see Box 6-1).
The best advice and research evidence recognize that there is no universal approach to increasing diversity and inclusion with respect to age or any other personal characteristic. Moreover, organizations have unique cultures that require specific strategies for their particular context. Organizations will benefit the most by developing a plan for achieving a diverse workforce and promoting inclusion that works for their own culture.
The heterogeneity of groups defined by demographic variables merits emphasizing. Whether defining groups by race, ethnicity, gender, or age,
there is no reason to believe that all members of a group share the same work values and needs. Consequently, a diverse workforce highlights the need for an organization to attend to an array of benefits, training, and worker accommodations that are adaptable for a number of individual circumstances in an organization’s work environments.
The goal of personnel recruitment is to identify candidates whose preferences, skills, and abilities match the needs of the organization and the specific requirements of the job to be filled. The recruitment process is often separated into two phases: sourcing and attraction. Sourcing involves identifying candidates who are likely to possess the requisite skills for the job and to be interested in the job and the organization, while attraction refers to the process of developing and maintaining a candidate’s interest throughout the hiring process.
The challenge of recruiting in labor markets characterized by low unemployment (as was the case prior to the COVID-19 pandemic) is finding sources for candidates and developing a process for attraction that will appeal to the broadest range of people who are likely to be viable candidates. When competition for people with specific skill sets is keen, organizations may need to pursue novel sources of candidates (Joyce, 2010). For example, companies that have long relied on campus recruiting from vocational technical schools, colleges, and universities may need to augment that approach by seeking to identify experienced candidates
through such avenues as professional associations, job boards, employee referrals, internet search tools or job postings, and social media (Corporate Leadership Council and Recruiting Roundtable, 2006). It is also important to recognize that younger and older candidates may not be accessible from the same sources. As noted above, the military, which recruits primarily adolescents and young adults, has adapted to new communication media as they have emerged and gained popularity with these target candidates, whereas, other employers may have to leverage a variety of communication channels to reach workers of all ages. Moreover, the effectiveness of using any source of candidates depends at least in part on the nature of the job that needs to be filled. It is important to note as well that viable candidates will learn about opportunities from different sources and that many will use multiple sources. For example, a candidate may see an advertisement on television about a firm’s goods or services and then go the organization’s website to seek more information regarding career opportunities.
The benefits, culture, and environment offered by an organization, as well as its public image (Gatewood, Gowan, and Lautenschlager, 1993; Turban and Greening, 1997), will play a role in candidates’ job decisions. In the course of this study, the committee learned from multiple articles and presenters (e.g., Deal, 2019) that the following features of work appear to be important to all workers, regardless of age or generation: appreciation, trust, career opportunities, clear goals and expectations, and fairness. Nonetheless, there are always differences in expectations of work among workers. What appeals to young adults and recent college graduates and to experienced workers, for example, may differ. Further, members of these two groups may also differ in multiple ways. Such factors as race/ethnicity and gender, as well as other demographic characteristics, geographic location, education level and college major, and work experiences, can be significant in determining what attracts different people to specific jobs.
Instead of making general assumptions about employee desires, then, some organizations are taking a more scientific approach to identifying what attracts individuals to an employer. Employee value proposition (EVP) is “the portfolio of tangible and intangible rewards an organization provides to employees in exchange for their job performance” (Shepherd, 2014, p. 580). EVP analysis, much of which is conducted at the organizational level, is designed to categorize employees into clusters based on similarity of desires. As part of this process, employees rank order a list of organizational characteristics and benefits according to importance. Then, those responses are used to cluster employees into groups with similar needs and desires. Importantly, this analysis can segment an organization’s employee population according to the similarity of their perceptions of what is of value in the organization instead of according to age or generation. This information can then be used to communicate aspects of the organization
that are likely to be rewarding to potential applicants. For example, a company might find in its EVP analyses that its education benefits are highly regarded by a cluster of employees that includes both new hires who are beginning their careers and desire more education to support them in their career development and more experienced employees who are looking to change roles and need new skills to be effective in their new positions. The organization might share the details of its education benefits and provide examples of how they have been used by different employees to achieve their career goals.
In light of the changing nature of work and the rapid development and implementation of new technologies (see Chapter 2), professional development has become more important, and training and retooling have become necessary at every career stage (Autor, 2015; Muro et al. 2017; Yoong and Huff, 2006). In addition, the number of nontraditional career paths is growing. Continuous learning environments support the development of new skills and the acquisition of new knowledge at any career stage and are critical to the success of organizations, as well as workers’ development of professional skills, interests, and career identity (Hall and Mirvis, 1995, 2013).
Attention to professional development for employees can benefit both individual workers and the organization (Goldstein and Ford, 2002; Tannenbaum et al., 2010). Individuals develop knowledge and skills to perform their current jobs better, to advance their careers, and to prepare for new opportunities. The organization not only gains from employee development and the new and enhanced skills it provides to advance business objectives, but also can leverage professional development programs to ensure the transfer of institutional knowledge as its workforce evolves. In addition, development opportunities are often desirable to workers and therefore facilitate recruitment and retention.
Accompanying the increasing demand for professional development are changes in the nature of professional development activities within organizations. Organizations are increasingly shifting the responsibility for development from the employer to the employee. The employer provides resources and some guidance, but it is up to the employee to decide whether to take advantage of those opportunities. In addition, many organizations are shifting some of their training from formal, classroom settings to less formal, online, self-directed formats. Employees can no longer count on their organization to provide all of the skills and training they need to remain competitive for jobs in the 21st century. Rather, they must take it upon themselves to ensure that they have needed skills, and accordingly
A considerable body of research documents the importance of a conducive organizational climate with respect to formal training—one that signals to employees that learning is a valued activity (Armstrong-Stassen and Ursel, 2009). There is also growing recognition that the most effective career development experiences occur on the job, with reinforcement of the lessons learned through coaching from managers, mentors, or others (Tracey, Tannenbaum, and Kavanaugh, 1995). At the same time, each worker’s expectations, interests, and decisions will be influenced by contextual factors both within and outside of work (Ackerman, 2000; Beier, Torres, and Gilberto, 2017). In this regard, there exist a number of stereotypes about generational groups and preferences for learning. For example, baby boomers, who are currently classified as the older generation of workers, are often characterized as lacking the desire and ability to learn continually at work (Posthuma and Campion, 2009). This perception may be the result of research findings regarding motivational and cognitive factors that do differentiate older and younger adult learners on average (Kubeck et al., 1996). However, cognitive abilities vary widely within age groups, and no assumptions about the importance of professional development to workers are warranted on the basis of age or generation alone (Hertzog et al., 2008).
The popular press paints a picture in which one generation values flexible schedules more than another. Depending on the source, these groups may be new hires and potential recruits or veteran employees. In reality, the evidence shows greater need for and acceptance of flexible schedules across ages and career stages.
Advances in technology and changes in the nature of job tasks have expanded the options for flexibility in work schedules, and research suggests that organizations are employing a range of strategies for creating flexible schedules (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2014). These options include job sharing, part-time work, temporary work, telecommuting, and flex scheduling (allowing employees to set their own hours for a given period). These options will not be appropriate for every employer, every job, or every employee. However, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic suggests that many employees and employers can quickly adapt to telecommuting and flexible work schedules. A careful analysis of such factors as job duties, equipment needed, people with whom interaction is required, and the nature of these interactions can help in determining whether flexible work schedules and locations are viable for
particular employees and circumstances. In addition, some organizations provide guidelines for acceptable behavior when employees are working at different hours or remotely.
Adding flexibility to job structures offers many advantages, including increased employee well-being and job satisfaction (Lambert, Haley-Lock, and Henly, 2012; Moen et al., 2016a), reduced levels of turnover intentions (Moen et al., 2016b, 2017), and opportunities to delay retirements among more experienced employees and retain their critical skills/knowledge longer (Cahill, James, and Pitt-Catsouphes, 2015). Multiple surveys across different work sectors, as well as research examining work-related values (e.g., Twenge et al., 2010), show increasing interest in better work–life balance, and flexible schedules and work locations can enable individuals to balance work and life demands according to their needs.
In the preceding sections, there have been several references to the misuse of a generational perspective for informing workforce management. When describing workforce challenges, the literature has often used generations as a proxy for different age groups. This section summarizes the legal constraints on workforce management and explains how generation-based decisions could be interpreted as age discrimination in light of existing employment laws.
Federal laws currently in place prohibit making employment decisions on the basis of characteristics that include sex, race, color, national origin, religion, disability, or genetic information. Employers may not pay different wages to men and women who perform equal work, and they may not discriminate against a person because of pregnancy and childbirth. In addition, people over age 40 may not be discriminated against based on age. These federal laws, which include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Each of the laws operates slightly differently, based on the text of the legislation as well as how it has been interpreted by courts and the EEOC. In general, employment decisions—including recruitment, hiring, firing, and promotion—may not be made based on characteristics that define a protected class of people, and employers may not retaliate against a person who complained about such discrimination or filed or participated in a lawsuit about the discrimination. In addition, the laws prohibit employment
practices that apply to all but have a disproportionately negative effect on people of a certain race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability unless the practice is job-related and necessary to the operation of the business. An employment practice that applies to all but has a disproportionately negative effect on people aged 40 or older is prohibited if the practice is not based on a reasonable factor other than age.11
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act
When age, generational categories, or stereotypes about generations are used in the workplace to make decisions or policies, the employer may potentially be in violation of the ADEA, as well as various state laws. The ADEA was enacted in 1967 as the result of congressional concern that older workers were facing discrimination based on age, including arbitrary age limits for certain jobs (29 U.S.C. § 621). Congress considered including age in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the landmark employment law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, but opted to create a separate law instead. Over the years, the ADEA and Title VII have developed slightly different requirements and legal standards, with age discrimination cases in general being more difficult to prove than Title VII cases (Dunleavey et al., 2019).
The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees and to employees or applicants who are aged 40 and older (29 U.S.C. § 631). (In practice, evidence suggests that age discrimination occurs much later than age 40. Many of the ADEA cases highlighted by the EEOC involve employees in their 50s and 60s.12) The ADEA does not apply to uniformed personnel in the military services. The law prohibits discrimination based on age in any area of employment, including hiring, promotion, pay, assignments, layoffs, training, benefits, and firing (29 U.S.C. § 623). There are several ways in which employers could potentially violate the ADEA with age- or generation-based decisions, each discussed below.
Making employment-related decisions about ADEA-covered applicants or employees based solely on age violates the letter of the ADEA. Examples of these types of decisions include choosing to hire or promote a younger rather than an older worker because of the age of the employees involved and not their job-relevant knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics, or choosing to lay off older workers before younger ones solely on the
basis of age. The Supreme Court has clarified that age, rather than some other factor, must actually motivate the employer’s decision. For example, a decision to fire an older employee before his pension benefits vest does not violate the ADEA if the decision was based on years of service rather than the employee’s actual age (Hazen Paper Co. v. Biggins, 507 U.S. 604 ). The Court noted, however, that if the claimed factor were merely a proxy for age, the employer could potentially be liable (Id.).
By most accounting, the oldest members of the millennial generation are nearing age 40, the age at which protection under ADEA begins. However, the Supreme Court has held that workers—even if they are 40 or older—are protected under the ADEA only if a discriminatory action favors younger workers at the expense of older workers (General Dynamics Land Systems Inc. v. Cline, 540 U.S. 581 ). For example, if an employer promoted a 55-year-old employee rather than a 45-year-old employee based on age, the 45-year-old employee would not have a claim under the ADEA. However, if the employer promoted a 35-year-old rather than the 45-year-old based on age, the 45-year-old would have a cognizable claim. The Supreme Court noted that Congress intended to protect older workers from unfair preferences benefiting younger workers, and said that if Congress had intended the act to protect younger workers, it would not have excluded everyone under 40. The takeaway from the General Dynamics case is that employers may, if they choose, always favor older over younger workers without violating the ADEA.
In practice, disparate treatment cases can be difficult to prove. While older workers might feel that they were discriminated against because of age, their employer might claim that the decision was made because a younger worker had certain skills or abilities. For example, the younger worker might have been perceived to be more innovative than the older worker. If a court found that the employment decision was based on this factor rather than age alone, the discrimination claim would not succeed.
Policies that apply to everyone but have a disparate negative impact on older workers can violate the ADEA (Smith v. City of Jackson, Miss., 544 U.S. 228 ). For example, if an employer required employees to pass a screening test that few or no older employees could pass (e.g., a physical ability test evaluating strength), this action could violate the ADEA unless the test was based on a reasonable factor other than age (e.g., job requirements for strength). Unlike a disparate treatment violation, a disparate impact violation is based on the effect on the employee (or applicant), not on the employer’s motivations (Id.) To combat a disparate impact claim, an employer must demonstrate that the policy was based on
a “reasonable factor other than age” (Smith v. City of Jackson, Miss., 544 U.S. 228 ). The burden is on the employer to show reasonableness (Meacham v. Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, 554 U.S. 84 ). In response to Smith and Meacham, the EEOC has clarified that for an employment practice to be based on a “reasonable factor other than age,” it must be “reasonably designed and administered to achieve a legitimate business purpose in light of the circumstances, including its potential harm to older workers.”13
It should be noted that a workplace benefit that is designed to benefit younger employees but is available to all employees likely does not violate the ADEA, as long as there is a reasonable factor other than age behind the policy (Dunleavey et al., 2019). For example, a company might be able to demonstrate that a policy or practice (e.g., child care, videogame room) is common among its competitors, and thus it needs to offer the same benefit to stay competitive even though child care and videogames may appeal more to younger than older employees.
New technologies being used for hiring and management—for example, online assessments, targeted online recruitment, and the use of artificial intelligence for assessment—could potentially be the source of ADEA violations. While these technologies are too new to have been thoroughly tested under the ADEA, there are signs that this is an area in which employers could be vulnerable. In 2019, the EEOC determined that seven companies had violated the ADEA by blocking older workers from viewing Facebook job advertisements. As part of a settlement with civil rights organizations, Facebook has agreed to change the ways in which advertisers can target users (Gillum and Tobin, 2019). The use of artificial intelligence for making employment decisions may also be an area ripe for ADEA violations; the use of data about previously successful candidates or employees is likely only to perpetuate existing biases against older workers. For example, if previous hiring decisions favored younger workers, this bias would be baked into the data used to build an artificial intelligence system (e.g., “successful employees are under age 35”), and the new system would reflect the age bias present in the previous hiring practices.
There is disagreement as to whether disparate impact claims can be brought by applicants as well as employees under the ADEA. Other provisions of the ADEA explicitly refer to “applicants,” whereas the plain language of the disparate impact provision in the law refers only to “employees”; it prohibits an employer from “limit[ing], segregat[ing], or classify[ing] his employees in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s age” (29
U.S.C. § 623[a]). The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Kleber v. CareFusion Corporation, No. 17-1206 [7th Cir. Jan. 23, 2019]) and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Villarreal v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 839 F.3d 958 ) have both ruled that disparate impact claims may not be brought by applicants, because of the plain language of the statute. However, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has allowed a class action suit from a group of applicants to move forward (Rabin v. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, 236 F.Supp.3d 1126 [N.D. Cal. 2017]), and the District Court for the Southern District of Texas also refused to dismiss an applicant’s disparate impact claim (Champlin v. Manpower Inc., No. 4:16-CV-00421 [S.D. Tex. Jan. 24, 2018]). As a result of this circuit split, disparate impact claims are currently available to applicants in some regions of the country but not in others; further guidance from Congress, other federal courts, or the Supreme Court would be required to resolve this conflict.
An employer may violate the ADEA if an employment-related decision is based on stereotypes, generalizations, or stigmas associated with workers of a certain age. In fact, as the Supreme Court noted, this concern was the driving force behind the ADEA; Congress recognized that age discrimination was based on unsupported stereotypes, and that empirical evidence demonstrated that the performance of older workers was at least as good as that of younger workers (EEOC v. Wyoming, 460 U.S. 226 ). The ADEA requires employers to make decisions based on an employee’s “merits, and not their age” (Western Air Lines, Inc. v. Criswell, 472 U.S. 400, 422 ), and employers cannot use age as a proxy for other characteristics, such as productivity (Hazen Paper Co. v. Biggins, 507 U.S. 604 ). The Court noted that a decision based on a reasonable factor other than age is one that does not rely on stereotypes or generalizations, even if the reasonable factor is related to age (e.g., years of service) (Hazen Paper Co. v. Biggins, 507 U.S. 604 ).
The text of the ADEA does not explicitly prohibit harassment of employees based on age. However, several circuit courts have held that employees can sue employers for creating a hostile work environment based on age (Milan v. Dediol v. Best Chevrolet, Inc., et al., No. 10-30767 [5th Cir. 2011]; Crawford v. Medina General Hosp., 96 F.3d 830 [6th Cir. 1996]). Hostile work environment claims have long been available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on
race, color, religion, sex, or national origin (although again, harassment is not explicitly prohibited in the text of the law) (Meritor Savings Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 US 57 ). The 5th Circuit set out a four-part test for a violation of the ADEA due to age-based harassment in the workplace:
- the employee is over age 40;
- the employee was subjected to harassment, either through words or actions, based on age;
- the nature of the harassment was such that it created an objectively intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment; and
- there exists some basis for liability on the part of the employer.
The EEOC has clarified its interpretation of when age-based harassment violates the ADEA, stating that harassment can include offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s age, and that harassment is illegal when “it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision.”14 Like harassment under Title VII, the hostile work environment need not be created directly by the employer; harassment by supervisors, coworkers, and even customers may lead to a violation of the ADEA.
While the ADEA is rather narrow—applying only to employees over 40, and only to discrimination against older in favor of younger workers—a number of state laws take a broader view of age discrimination. For example, Oregon Revised Statute 659A.030 prohibits employers from using age as the basis for hiring or firing decisions unless the decision is based on “a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the employer’s business.” The law applies to any individual aged 18 or older and does not require a showing that the discriminatory practice favors younger at the expense of older workers. Most states have laws that prohibit discrimination in employment based on age, although many of these laws mirror the ADEA by restricting claims to those aged 40 and over.15
Application to Generations
The ADEA and state laws prohibit discrimination based on age and do not explicitly address generational categories or stereotypes. However, a court could find that an employer that had made a decision based on
an employee’s generation was using generation as a mere proxy for age, placing the employer in violation of federal or state law. For example, an employer’s refusal to hire a baby boomer based solely on this generational category would almost certainly violate age discrimination laws. Employment decisions based on stereotypes about generations—such as refusing to put workers of a certain generation in a specific job position—could be particularly vulnerable to ADEA claims because the congressional intent behind the ADEA was to combat these types of pervasive stereotypes and stigmatization of older workers. Workplace harassment based on age or generational stereotypes could also be fertile ground for an ADEA claim; for example, a hostile work environment created through frequent comments, jokes, and insults about workers in a particular generation could violate the ADEA. While federal disparate treatment and disparate impact claims require that the discrimination be against an older in favor of a younger worker, there is no such requirement for a harassment claim. It is feasible, though not yet tested, that millennials reaching the age of 40 could make claims of workplace harassment based on comments, jokes, and insults about their generation (e.g., that millennials are entitled or lazy). In addition, workers of younger generations may have recourse under state laws if they are discriminated against based on their generational category.
Hiring Practices and Selection Tests
Federal and state laws have largely made the selection and management practices of employers less biased against a group defined by demographic characteristics. For example, it is no longer permissible to deny a promotion to someone based on his or her race, to refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant, or to fire an employee once he or she reaches a certain age.
Selection practices, dictated in part by these laws, have benefited and improved from many years of research and its incorporation into practice. Developments in the evaluation of potential job performance have now made it possible for organizations to consider performance broadly; identify the aspects of performance of greatest relevance; reduce the likelihood that selection decisions are biased on applicants’ age, gender, race, or ethnicity, among other characteristics; and adjust selection systems accordingly (Campbell et al., 1993; Rotundo and Sackett, 2002). The goal of effective selection practices that are lawful is to identify candidates who are likely to succeed because they possess the required knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics. For virtually all jobs, race/ethnicity, gender, and age are not characteristics that define capability. Good selection tools identify capable candidates regardless of their demographic characteristics.
To develop effective management strategies, employers must first establish policies and procedures that are fair to all employees and serve the organization’s goals. Once such practices are in place, management must then continuously examine the changing context of work in the workplace and employees’ needs, and develop policies that continue to meet those needs and accord well with the employer’s mission and job requirements. (See the summary of this chapter’s key messages in Box 6-2). Organizations can best evaluate their workforce management decisions if they have structures and procedures in place for regularly collecting and analyzing workforce data. Employers should be able to determine what their employees find attractive about the organization, what reasons are behind turnover, and what their employees need and want to be satisfied and successful in their jobs and careers. An array of options is most likely to best serve a diverse workforce and give employees and their managers the flexibility to decide what work arrangements, training, and benefits are of most value to individual workers and jobs.
Recommendation 6-1: In considering approaches to workforce management, employers and managers should focus on the needs of individual workers and the changing contexts of work in relation to job
requirements instead of relying on generational stereotypes. Employers can be guided in making any needed changes to employment practices and policies by a thorough assessment of changes in their own work environment, job requirements, and human capital.
The committee’s review of the generational literature and supplemental study of the changing nature of work uncovered several workforce challenges that we believe broadly affect most workplaces and organizations in the United States. These include recent challenges with the recruitment and retention of workers; increasing diversity in the labor force; rising demand for better work–life balance across all ages of workers; and the need to reexamine training and professional development in light of changing employer–employee relationships, the incorporation of new technologies, and greater proportions of team-based approaches to work.
The task for an organization is not to find a single, permanent answer to the workforce challenges listed above. The nature of these challenges changes over time. As a result of the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, the recruiting challenges of January 2020 were substantially different from those 4 months later in May. Moreover, employees’ needs and values change with broader societal changes. For example, the need for elder care has increased over time because of a number of factors, including longevity in the United States; the mobility of the American worker; and women’s entry into the workforce in large numbers, which makes them unavailable for caregiving. In addition, possible solutions are constantly evolving. For example, recently developed teleconferencing tools have enhanced the effectiveness of remote working and facilitated flexible work schedules and locations. Organizations must then evaluate the new policies and procedures they undertake to determine their impact on organizational effectiveness and the extent to which employees’ needs are met. Thus, the committee recommends that organizations develop effective ways to regularly identify changes in the context of the work environment and employees’ needs and values, determine currently available solutions to any challenges arising from these changes that are aligned with the organization’s mission and values and meet the needs of employees, and evaluate those solutions. In other words, the solution to these workforce challenges is not a particular one-time solution but a repeatable process by which challenges are identified and resolved and the solutions to those challenges are evaluated.
Recommendation 6-2: Employers should have processes in place for considering and reevaluating on a regular basis an array of options for workforce management, such as policies for recruiting, training and development, diversity and inclusion, and retention. The best options
will be consistent with the organization’s mission, employees, customer base, and job requirements and will be flexible enough to adjust to different worker needs and work contexts as they change.
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