One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to the needs of the American worker this Labor Day.
From the executive board room to the union hall, today’s business and labor leaders find themselves dealing with a changing work force like never before.
It is being driven by millennials — men and women in their 20s and early 30s. They now are the largest age group in the U.S work force, taking the keys away from baby boomers, who are retiring in huge numbers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The change is significant.
The millennials bring a fearless nature toward technology that is opening doors for them. They don’t flinch when it comes to change; they simply handle it with little second thought. They thrive in the fast lane with their ability to multi-task and love to be praised.
Yet at the same time, most millennials harbor no ties to the mother ship. While they’ll work hard for their employer, only one-third of them say their current job is their career, and nearly 60 percent have switched careers already, the Department of Labor notes. By the time millennials retire, some labor experts say many will have worked for 16 or more companies, meaning they average three to four years on the job before moving along.
How a company deals with this change in the work force will likely determine its relevance in the future. Most executives understand the knowledge and skills of their workers provide a company’s true strategic advantage. Yet these same executives are so preoccupied with quarterly reports that they have failed to plan for work force development. This comes at a time when companies are dealing with a shrinking pool of workers in a growing and highly competitive economy.
Labor Day also arrives with struggles from inside union halls.
Some members of service unions are raising the flag for merit pay. They point out a contract with pay determined mostly by seniority and not merit is no longer desirable. Teachers have claimed union representation ignores individual effort and merit-based compensation.
Other union members question the large donation of political contributions that union chiefs make to political advocacy groups. By classifying these political expenditures as “representational activities,” union officials can use member dues to finance a political agenda without employees even knowing about it. They effectively did so in supporting Hillary Clinton when 43 percent of union households supported President Trump.
Then there’s the recent analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2006 to 2016. It revealed that overall employment grew by 8.1 percent in the states with right-to-work laws on the books in 2006 compared to employment growth of only 3.5 percent in compulsory union states.
Employers have entered a period that sees them in a heated battle for talent. If a company is to be a destination site for talented workers, it cannot ignore the needs, desires and attitudes of millennials.