We’re seeing an unprecedented amount of people resigning from their jobs. This event has been coined “The Great Resignation” and it is affecting business everywhere. From the people leaving, a majority of them are from the Boomer generation or those born between 1946 and 1965. This has caused a skill gap due to such a large number of the workforce having some amount of people that fit this demographic.
Why Are They Leaving?
Covid changed the work landscape for everyone, no matter who you are in the world, something changed for both employees and employers. As of the end of this year, the youngest Boomers will be 57 years old, they are more prone to illnesses and many of them fear for their health. With weakening immune systems, those farther along in life have decided it was time to cash in their chips and retire while they still had their health. Speaking of age, as stated before, the youngest Boomers will be 57 by the end of this year, this is significant as the average age people retire is between 60 and 64 years old.
Why It Creates A Problem
We have to face some facts, the biggest two being that some members of the Boomer generation have been working longer than some people have been alive and there’s no stopping them from retiring. All of their skills, honed over a number of years, are going to disappear. Higher skilled roles will have younger generations, who lack the experience and insight to fill them. This wouldn’t be a massive problem if the knowledge could be transferred to their replacement like data can be transferred via USB or the Cloud, but this is unrealistic as you can’t teach a lifetime’s worth of skills to someone that quickly.
Different industries felt this loss of manpower differently. In the medical industry, 3.6% more people resigned than in previous years and in the tech industry, resignations were 4.5% higher. The effect in the medical industry is huge, as in-person training is required to properly introduce someone to health care. More seasoned employees that render 1 month before retiring will somehow have to pack years of experience and knowledge into a 1 month time period.
Possible Solutions And Avoiding A Repeat
The simplest solution to filling highly-skilled roles is easy in theory, find similarly skilled individuals to replace them. As easy as this sounds when read or said aloud, finding someone just like the last person to fill the role is next to impossible, in some cases, this works out, but it’s not a sustainable solution. Filling positions with Gen X and Z members is the next logical step, but it brings up the problem of not having enough experience.
A possible solution to this is through the implementation of cross-training. In addition to solving the current problem of mass resignations within the Boomer generation, it also future proofs offices from similar events. This can be done a couple of ways, from playbooks to having a department head actually train another on how to do their jobs. Playbooks give you the luxury of being able to train people without people actually physically being there, meaning someone who retired years ago could leave behind instructions on how to do a job. The drawback is that they aren’t allowed to pass on institutional knowledge learned by real-world experience. The other option is having a department head actually train someone hands-on to do their job.
In relation to cross-training, a mentorship program can also fix this problem. At first glance, cross-training with a department head seems exactly like a mentorship program, however, there are two main differences. First, a mentorship program has the person who will be replaced, directly train their replacement. Secondly, unlike cross-training, this method allows all of a department’s knowledge to be transferred as well as ideology. The mentee gets a deeper understanding of how everything works. All those years of experience and built-up knowledge get passed on to a younger generation. Of course, for this to work they would have to start at a much earlier time than a 1 month rendering period, but the added effort will prevent any sort of skill gap from happening.
With the Covid event making people relook at what’s important to them, workforces around the world have thinned significantly. A vast number of the Boomer generation quit and this created a skill gap on a scale never seen before. A solution to implement now but fix future problems would be to start a mentorship program, where high skilled positions start training their future replacements. A more immediate solution to roll out before sought-after positions retire would be to create playbooks or start cross-training. Whatever solution you pick, just make sure it’s being followed properly as implementing solutions without proper care and instruction will inevitably lead to poor results.