Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A College-Educated Workforce

In the U.S., only 1/3 of high school students graduate on time and prepared for college-level work. 1/3 don’t even graduate at all. If current postsecondary graduation rates do not improve, our labor market will be short 3 million college-educated workers by 2018.

America’s education system is not preparing students for the demands of a knowledge-based economy and workplace. That’s why the Interchange Group supports Aspire Public Schools, a non-profit organization that operates public charter schools in urban areas across California. Aspire’s motto is “College for Certain,” and its growing school system boasts both record State performance and a 97% college acceptance rate. As our holiday gift to our clients and community, we have chosen to donate funds to Aspire. We encourage you to find ways to support educational improvements in your own communities!

Happy Holidays from the Interchange Group Team!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Predictions For The Next Generation

What’s the youngest generation in America called and what will they be like? As the holidays approach and the focus inevitably shifts to children, we thought we’d take the opportunity to offer some predictions and pose this question to the greater community.

Though their beginning birth years have yet to be conclusively decided, children of America’s youngest generation are roughly 0-10 years old. They are currently the offspring of Generation X (born ca. 1963-1981) but many will have parents from the Millennial generation (born ca. 1982-2000) as time goes on. While demographers use a variety of names to refer to this generation -- Generation Net, Generation Z, the Homeland Generation -- none of them has yet to stick. And while it’s clear that the members of this generation will be the most technologically savvy in history, most of their other values and characteristics have yet to crystallize. Here are some of our predictions:
  • Self-Directed - In reaction to the “helicopter” parenting style of the Baby Boomers, “slow” or “free range” parenting styles of Gen Xers and Millennials will emphasize unstructured time over overachievement and result in the ability to self-direct.
  • Adaptive & Resilient - Not having experienced or remembered the years of prosperity prior to the “Great Recession,” this generation will come of age accustomed to living with less and working with what they have.
  • Conforming – Growing up in the wake of 9/11, Columbine and mobile surveillance technology will produce a generation of children highly tolerant of protective environments and imposed rules and boundaries.
  • Inclusive - This generation’s child- and young adulthood will be marked by political polarity, global instability and deepening divides between the rich and poor. As a result they will adopt values of fairness and due process in an effort to right the inequities they see around them.
Because a generation is shaped by the first 16 years of life, we’ll need more time to monitor all the influences (e.g. family upbringing, school systems, world events, etc.) of today’s youth. What do you think this next generation will be like in society? How will their values and behaviors shape the workplace of the future? We welcome your comments!

For more information and tips on recruiting, engaging and managing the different generations in your workplace, contact us at www.interchange-group.com.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nonprofits - A Crisis of Succession

75% of nonprofit executive directors plan to resign in the next five years or less. By 2016 the nonprofit sector will need 80,000 new senior managers each year, 40% more each year than is currently required. With these stark statistics one would think that succession planning would be top of mind for most nonprofits, but only 29% have succession plans in place. Succession planning will be the number one crisis facing nonprofits in the coming years and many will not survive as a result. Demographics aside, here are 3 major reasons why nonprofits must engage in succession planning now to stay in business for the future:

  • Funding – Scrutiny among foundations and private donors is growing. In the future, many will simply withhold funds to nonprofits that cannot demonstrate continuity in leadership. As more organizations vie for funding from non-government entities, the demand for succession plans will rise.
  • Retention - After passion for the mission, professional development is the second most important reason nonprofit executives take new jobs. Organizations that do not plan for succession send a clear message to their top talent that professional development is not valued.
  • Board Fatigue - Many board members are simply weary to commit more time, money and contacts to leaders who seem ready for retirement or are not open to fresh ideas. For prospective board members, the prospect of new leadership will be the necessary step to gain their support and engagement.

Generational shifts among stakeholders, emerging communication technologies and rising economic uncertainty have changed the playing field and what's required of nonprofit leaders. Nonprofits are clearly struggling in the most challenging times since the Depression and most do not feel capable of planning past the next fiscal year. That being said, not engaging in succession planning will be a huge disservice to the communities they serve. What does this mean for the nonprofit organizations that you work for or support? What could you do to help ensure their sustainability?

For more information and tips on succession planning and managing the different generations in your workplace, contact us at www.interchange-group.com.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Eldercare Issues in the Workplace

As more and more Baby Boomers struggle to balance full-time employment and the emotional and financial demands of caring for aging parents, the cost to employers is rising. According to MetLife, the average employee caregiver costs his or her employer $2100 per year in absenteeism, lost productivity and increased healthcare costs. That’s a total loss of $33 billion per year to U.S. businesses.

Unfortunately, the situation is predicted to get worse in the coming years. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services report that the segment of the population most likely to need care (those over 85) is increasing rapidly, from 35 million today to 70 million in 2030. How will employers cope with the disruptions and costs of a growing workforce of employee caregivers? Here are some of the many innovative “eldercare friendly” policies and practices that companies are adopting to address the issue:
  • Flexible work arrangements including telecommuting, compressed work weeks and job sharing
  • Leave-sharing that allows employees to donate a portion of their leave time to others who have eldercare responsibilities
  • Caregiver Employee Resource Groups that enable employees to share resources and emotional support
  • Dependent Care Spending Accounts permitting employees to pay for adult daycare expenses with pre-tax dollars
  • Consultation on eldercare services and counseling on hospice and palliative care
Addressing issues of eldercare is a business imperative. Organizations that respond to employee needs will be rewarded with loyalty, engagement and productivity. Those that force employees to choose between caring for a loved one and devoting themselves to work will sacrifice both their bottom line and their ability to attract top talent in the future.

For more information and tips on recruiting, engaging and managing the different generations in your workplace, contact us at www.interchange-group.com.

Monday, August 30, 2010

September 16 Webinar: New Hire Onboarding

For employers, making a good first impression through the recruitment process is essential. But managers are often so driven to find talent that they forget to reinforce that positive impression during the new hire’s first year on the job. In other words, they neglect to think about what will happen once the employee shows up ready for work.

Employee onboarding (the process of integrating new hires into an organization) is taking on a new priority as demographic shifts gather steam and the economy begins to recover. Research shows that companies that invest in a structured onboarding process for new employees experience dramatic increases in revenue, customer satisfaction and employee retention, productivity and engagement. Yet most employers devote less time and money to their onboarding process than they do to their holiday party. A mistake that costs organizations greatly both in bottom line and reputation.

Join us for another popular Interchange Group webinar as we explore strategic insights and practical guidelines for designing simple onboarding programs that accelerate performance and boost retention. Learning outcomes include:

  • The generational imperative for new hire onboarding
  • The importance of cultural adaptation in increasing performance and retention
  • The 6 critical steps of onboarding and how to implement them
  • Key phases and activities to consider when designing your onboarding process
  • Common mistakes made with orientation programs and how to avoid them

Every employer has a new hire onboarding process, whether they manage it or not. What impact do your practices have on your employees' productivity and retention? Isn’t it time you found out?

Click here to register.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Onboarding Generation X

Over 1/3 of Generation Xers (born ca. 1963-1981) would rather go to the dentist than attend their company's orientation program. That's no surprise, since the needs of this generation are often overshadowed by those of the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations that sandwich Gen X in the workplace. However, failure to engage this independent cohort up front will prove costly for employers in the years to come as America's 80 million Baby Boomers attempt to pass on their roles to a mere 46 million Gen Xers.

Effective employee onboarding (i.e. the process of integrating new hires into an organization) will be critical for Gen X engagement and retention in the future. As a result, onboarding practices like the ones described below will need to echo Gen X themes of self-reliance, candor and transferable skills to be successful.

  • Offload employment forms and other HR information onto your company's intranet for new hires to access on an "as needed basis."
  • Use 30-60-90 day performance reviews to let Gen Xers know if they are on track.
  • Provide professional development opportunities to employees during their first 12 months of employment.
  • Be open about the challenges, opportunities and career paths available at your organization so that Gen Xers know what they have to work with.

Gen Xers who feel challenged and empowered during the first year of employment will reward companies with loyalty and productivity. Those who feel overlooked or marginalized will eventually leave for opportunities that better meet their needs. To what extent does your onboarding process fit the needs and expectations of Generation X?

To learn how to create a successful onboarding process across the generations, join us for our for our September 16 webinar, "New Hire Onboarding: Strategic Insights and Practical Guidelines for Boosting Employee Performance and Retention."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Helping Millennials Build Professional Equity

Lately, we’ve been getting a lot of interest in our Professional Equity in the Workplace program. In response to the wave of confusion and criticism toward the Millennial generation and their professional attitudes and behaviors, companies and universities alike are looking for ways to better prepare emerging leaders for success at work.

Professional Equity is the amount of standing and influence you have in the workplace. Every day we have an opportunity to build positive long-term relationships in our professional community. The investment we make in our professional reputation, skills and experiences has long-term rewards -- and consequences, if not managed effectively! To combat negative stereotypes and operational resistance from older co-workers and managers, Millennials need to focus on building their professional equity. Organizations can help them by:

  • Orienting incoming employees to the organization’s culture and business imperatives
  • Providing mentors or buddies to new hires to help them navigate workplace relationships, protocol and norms
  • Training Millennials on professional communication and presentation skills
  • Outlining performance expectations, job scope and future career paths at the start of employment
  • Educating new hires on the performance management process and parameters for advancement

Soon, Millennials will make up over 40% of the workforce in America. As hiring freezes thaw and the economy gathers steam, employers will need to do more to onboard incoming employees for productivity and retention. What have you done to build the professional skills and cultural acumen of your Millennial workers? Do they know what it takes to be successful in your organization?

To learn more about our Professional Equity in the Workplace program and how to create a successful onboarding process for your new employees, join us for our September 16 webinar, New Hire Onboarding: Strategic Insights and Practical Guidelines for Boosting Employee Performance and Retention.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Millennials & Critical Thinking

One of the most often expressed criticisms of the Millennial Generation is that it seems to have lost all ability to analyze data, examine the logic of a proposition, or read a blog and sort out the good and the bad in the argument. Usually described as “critical thinking,” this type of skill seems to be absent from a generation focused on sharing, communicating and finding group consensus. Indeed, one of the traits older generations find most annoying about Millennials is their constant “pinging” of friends to find out what the group thinks rather than making a prompt and decisive choice on their own.

As Millennials assume positions of authority within society, many people, particularly those in the Baby Boomer generation, are increasingly concerned about this missing skill and determined to find ways to teach it to a generation raised on the Net. But the very same Boomers who deride Net-based group decision-making would quickly agree that the most effective way to learn is through trial and error. Nature and society evolve using this simple technique and Chaos theory suggests the perfection of the most complex systems occurs through the process of continuing what works and discarding what doesn’t. Yet, to a large extent, the use of critical thinking as a means to solve problems contradicts this truth about natural selection and evolution. Rather than having expert thinkers come up with the right solution to a problem, the process of trial and error creates multiple experiments that attempt to solve the problem and uses objective empirical results to determine the best solution. With this approach, more trials – and errors – produce better results.

This is the type of problem solving approach Millennials have used almost since birth. They use it every day on social networks to decide what movie to go to, at which restaurant to eat, and even for which candidates to vote. Rather than insisting on solving challenges using the inherited, but inevitably limited wisdom of experts, Millennials would prefer to share their ideas and let the group find the right answer through their combined experiences. Given how far astray critical thinking has often taken us, maybe it’s time to embrace the Millennial Generation’s approach and see if it leads to even better results than the preferred methods of older generations.

Guest edited by Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais, co-authors of Millennial Makeover: My Space, You Tube and the Future of American Politics.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

April 15 Webinar: Succession Planning for the 21st Century

Most succession plans are irrelevant to today’s business challenges. Demographic shifts, globalization, emerging communication technologies and rising economic uncertainty have changed the playing field and what’s required of leaders. Succession plans have not kept up. Generic competency models and complex processes set companies that have systems in place up for failure. Those organizations, large and small, that haven’t engaged in succession planning are also at great economic risk.

There has been much talk of the new normal in American business but little practical discussion on how to retool succession planning and leadership development to meet new and future challenges facing companies. This online seminar will cover future trends and practical insights to guide successful and results-oriented succession planning practices for the coming decade. Learning outcomes include:

  • Key pitfalls to today’s succession planning initiatives
  • The impact of future trends on succession planning practices
  • A framework for assessing what tomorrow’s business and roles should look like
  • Leadership competencies necessary to compete in the next decade
  • Key steps to retool succession planning and leadership development for simplicity and success

The quality and depth of an organization’s leadership pipeline will be key drivers of competitive advantage in the future. It’s time to take a fresh look at succession planning in your organization.

Click Here To Register

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Do You Know Where Your Gen Xers Are?

In the next two decades Generation X will be in the position to assume leadership roles left behind by older workers. Some industries, like the federal government and aerospace, are already having to fast-track succession plans to address talent shortages caused by retiring workers. Traditional succession planning, however, is based on the faulty assumption that the next generation of leaders is willing to assume the roles planned for them. Here is why this is not the case for Gen X:
  • Gen Xers have grown up to feel marginalized and ignored as a cohort. This trend has continued in the workplace, as the needs of Gen Xers are consistently dwarfed by those of the Baby Boomers and Millennials.
  • Work-Life balance is a high priority for Gen Xers, who chose jobs closer to home over higher salaries and freelance work over full-time employment. Many are opting for entrepreneurial paths to be able to control their work day.
  • Gen Xers consider themselves fast trackers and now feel stuck in their careers as older workers stay in their jobs longer. Massive layoffs, pay freezes and turbulent restructuring have only fueled existing resentments, causing engagement levels among high performing Gen Xers to plummet in recent times.
When the economy recovers, Gen Xers will be the first to be lured away from organizations, resulting in a crippling brain drain. Most succession planning initiatives do little to address this imminent crisis. What have you done for Generation X lately? Isn’t it time you paid attention?

To learn how to retool your succession planning for sustainability and success, join us for our April 15 online seminar, “Succession Planning for the 21st Century: Future Trends & Practical Guidelines for Building the Talent Pipeline.”

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


On March 4, CNBC premiered a two-hour documentary called, "TOM BROKAW REPORTS: BOOMER$." While it was marketed as a landmark telling of “history’s wealthiest and most influential generation,” many felt it missed the mark. Here are some of the most common sentiments recently expressed in the blogosphere:

  • The fact that the Boomer generation is the richest in history (3/4 of Fortune 500 CEOs are Boomers) contradicts the economic realities facing most Boomers during this current recession
  • Brokaw’s claim that Boomers haven’t realized the changes they promised to the world negates the progress they’ve made through civil, women’s and environmental movements
  • While the recession’s impact on this cohort is significant, it pales in comparison to the emotional and economic burdens facing Boomers as they care for their own aging parents

To summarize any generation in a 2-hour segment is overly ambitious, but the flurry of passionate commentary the show generated highlights the power Boomers have in our society. The Baby Boomer generation will continue to drive economic, social, political and workplace agendas for years to come. It will be important for members of every generation to have an informed opinion.

BOOMER$ will be airing several more times this month. For more information visit http://classic.cnbc.com/id/34840866/.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Workforce Trends for 2010

The Great Recession. The Reset Decade. Call it what you like, employers and employees in the U.S. are ready for a change. While the economy shows modest signs of improvement, job growth continues to stagnate. Predictions point to a slow overall job recovery peppered with a demand for highly skilled, flexible labor. As a result, companies are making strategic investments this year in HR initiatives that will help them stay competitive and reposition themselves for growth. Here are some workforce trends we see for 2010.

  • Expansion of flexible work arrangements, including telecommuting, shorter work weeks and reduced work schedules
  • Investment in workforce analytic tools to ensure better data and decision making on top performers and high potential employees
  • Targeted skill development for managers on coaching and performance feedback
  • Proliferation of social networking technology for collaboration and training
  • Spread of career pathing initiatives as recruitment and retention tools for highly skills workers

The Interchange Group is helping organizations rethink workforce models to be more flexible and respond to the diverse needs of a multi-generational labor market. What can you do in 2010 to be an agent of change?