Global Demographic Trends: Implication of the Workplace Essay

As society ages, demographic trends change and evolve. This can have a significant impact on the workforce around the world. Impacts such as the aging workforce, more females entering the workforce and the increase in migrants’ means that organisations are increasingly going to have to work on their equal opportunity policies, concentrate on talent management and succession planning. The ageing population means that organisations are going to be required to change how they manage their skilled workforce focus on retaining the knowledge of their ageing employees, and look at ways to retain and engage their older workers.

To understand the impacts on the workplace, one should first look at the definition of demography. The Cambridge advanced learners online dictionary defines demography as the characteristics of people who live in a particular area. This covers a range of characteristics such as age, sex, marital status, disabilities etc. (Definition of demography noun from Cambridge Dictionary Online: Free English Dictionary and Thesaurus). The characteristic that will be discussed in the scope of this paper are the effects of the ageing population on workplaces and how organisations can adapt to the ageing workforce.

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One of the top five demographic trends causing concerns for organisations is the aging workforce and the retirement of the baby boom generation (Bates, 2006). As the workforce ages, companies could be facing severe shortages in labour as older employees retire, taking their knowledge and experiences with them. They could also see a drop in productivity of older workers. A recent study by RWC Power found that in 2018 almost 80% of their workers would be 50 years or older. Furthermore, in several critical areas, surpluses in labour would suddenly become sizable shortfalls. Strack, Baier, & Fahlander, 2008). Other problems aging employees can present are incapacity to perform in physically demanding jobs, less motivation due to a lack of career opportunities, or out of date skill sets. Over the next decade, there are going to be increasingly higher percentages of employees over 65 years old. Projected forecasts show that, in Europe, by 2050 the ratio of people over 65 to those aged 20-64 will increase from 26 percent to 56 percent United States and from 28 percent to 72 percent in Japan. (Costa & Di Milia, 2008).

Statistics show that in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), there are 80 percent of people aged 25-49 years employed, compared to 60 percent of 50-64 years. Over the next decade, there will be an increase in the percentage of 50-64 year olds employed as people age. To tackle this issue, organisations need to identify labour short falls early and prepare for them. If there is a particular area that has a high percentage employees aged over 50, they can reasonably expect that there will be a high rate of retirement from that area.

To combat this, organisation should begin to employee younger workers that have the necessary skills, or that can be readily trained in the required fields. Organisations should identify key skills that will make or break their business, identify where those skilled individuals will be sourced from, and the best methods of engaging these individuals and keeping the committed with the organisation (Unwin, 2005). They can also take advantage of the older workers, by updating their skills and taking advantage of their many years of experience (Strack, Baier, & Fahlander, 2008).

The issue with age is that it is open to aged-based discrimination. A survey conducted by the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales found that over half of the successful job applications within the sample were aged under 30, with 11 percent over 45, and 47 percent of employees did not have a staff member aged over 55. Employees tended towards those aged between 30 and 44 (Dessler, Lloyd-Walker, & Griffiths, 2007). There are several possible justifications Human Resource managers use to discriminate by age.

One of which is the assumption younger workers are better than older workers. The possible reasons this may be is that HR managers may believe that productivity declines with age, or that older workers are less adaptable to change, and other such factors. However, several surveys have shown that there is little decline with age and such things as knowledge and experience increases the intellectual capacity of workers. They also show that older employees tend to be more enthusiastic to learn new skills.

Also, despite taking more holidays’ then younger employees, absenteeism from sick leave tends to be much lower in the 55 and up group then in younger employees. Another area that is impacting on workplace demography is the increasing participation of racial and ethnic minority groups. This is largely due to increased immigration levels, and from globalisation. 31 million immigrants were living in European Union member states as of 2009 (Eurostat, 2010), and this trend is beginning to be reflected around the world.

As such, organisations are becoming increasingly multicultural, particularly those that operate over multiple countries. There are several arguments for why this is a desirable trend. Firstly, by encouraging multiculturalism within an organisation, it makes it more attractive for high quality candidates from around the globe. People from all demographic and cultural groups will be attracted to the organisation that will appreciate their value to the workplace. Secondly, it is considered that a multicultural organisation is much more effective at selling to diverse customers and clients.

Employees from different culture can bring new ideas on how to tap into previously untapped markets. A third argument for multiculturalism is that, due to the different backgrounds and experiences of a culturally diverse organisation, they organisation tends to be more innovative, and more effective at problem solving (Konrad, 2006). Taking these and other factors into account, organisations are constantly changing and improving their policies and practices to accommodate a variety of workers.

They have shifted focuses on maintaining their aged workers, making use of their skilled workers, whether they are immigrants or natives, and encouraging equal opportunity with the workplace. This is all geared towards remaining competitive in an increasingly globalised business world, were talent management is equally as important as the products or services an organisation provides. Bibliography Bates, S. (2006, August). Global Pressures Widen HR’s Horizons. HR News , 34. Costa, G. , ; Di Milia, L. (2008).

Aging and Shift Work: A complex problem to face. Chronobiology International: The Journal of Biological ; Medical Rhythem Research (25), 165-181. Definition of demography noun from Cambridge Dictionary Online: Free English Dictionary and Thesaurus. (n. d. ). Retrieved September 2, 2010, from Cambridge Dictionary Online: Free English Dictionary and Thesaurus: http://dictionary. cambridge. org/dictionary/british/demography Dessler, Lloyd-Walker, B. , ; Griffiths, J. (2007). Human Resource Management. Pearson EducationAustralia.

Eurostat. (2010). Eurostat. Retrieved September 3rd, 2010, from Population by citizenship – Foreigners: http://epp. eurostat. ec. europa. eu/tgm/table. do? tab=table;init=1;language=en;pcode=tps00157;plugin=1 Konrad, A. M. (2006). Leveraging Workplace Diversity in Organizations. Organization Management Journal , Vol 3, 164-189. Strack, R. , Baier, J. , ; Fahlander, A. (2008). Managing Demographic Risk. Havard Business Review , 86 (2), 119-128. Unwin, A. (2005, September 27th). Getting in Shape. Personnel Today , pp. 17-19.


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