But before we can consider solutions, let’s take a closer look at the enduring problems of the workforce crisis, including skyrocketing turnover, declining productivity, and accelerating change in demographics and technology.
In the US, we lose on average of $30.5 billion to employee turnover. We are experiencing the worst employee turnover in history, which is absolutely a turnover epidemic. Costs incurred by this include the gaps in output when a role goes unfilled, plus the training, recruitment and development of skills that can only be nurtured over the long-term.
The statistics are overwhelming. You might ask, why should we worry about the workforce crisis now, amongst all the other day-to-day pressures on our association? Don’t these issues fluctuate over time? Unfortunately, the situation has been on the decline for decades, and the symptoms of the crisis show no signs of slowing. We must address these symptoms with the urgency they require.
In my new book, “Talent Generation: How Visionary Organizations are Redefining Success and Achieving Greater Success,” I detail how job satisfaction began to decline in the 1960s alongside productivity. Unhappy employees hit the headlines with even more frequency by the 1980s. Soon after, declining membership became a tangible problem. In the heyday of the Boomer generation, people moved easily into positions of power and expertise as part of a large and influential age group. Industries rested on their laurels instead of considering what would happen when these professionals retired. Now the cracks are showing, and younger generations who require different engagement are falling through them.
Change accelerates these problems in our workforce crisis: change in technology, demand for new skills, urban redevelopment and global shifts in the economy. To create a sustainable future, nothing short of an innovative overhaul will suffice. Associations can use their industry-wide reach, from education to government to companies, to build a smooth road into the future of work.