As I was doing research for my book about four years ago, I ran into a very interesting piece of data, industrialized countries were showing a trend of zero population growth or what many call “zero population replacement”.
I looked in a little deeper and as I did so, I realized this issue was going to become a major factor for companies and countries to think about and quickly implement some type of corrective action. The idea of lacking in your capacity to grow as a nation and have an available generation of young talented people take over what the previous generation is leaving behind seems quiet disturbing to me on various fronts. As a business person my thought was, how will companies be able to grow?
- How will companies continue to be innovative and identify the next best things to offer their customer and clients?
- How will organizations be able to plan for growth, when the talent poll is diminishing and becoming extinct?
- How can countries think of economic growth when they are carrying the burden of an aging population who can’t make substantial contributions to the economic engine?
- Why is this trend surfacing in countries that have different cultural traditions?
My explanation is the following: the common link in this issue is the anxiety of both men and women related to child care, managing work life balance and the constraint of time everyone feels to enjoy life outside of work. Work environments are pushing young women and men to make a very hard choice- commitment at work or having a family!
The most resent Mckinsey Quarterly published an article titled: Management Intuition for the next 50 years where the authors identified key trends emerging in our global economy. One of the trends is Aging population. Here is a summary-For the first time in human history, the planet’s population could plateau in most of the world and shrink in countries such as South Korea, Italy, and Germany.
That McKinsey is also looking at this issue with a sense of alarm, just as I did four years ago, most make you stop and pay attention to this situation… This is something you can‘t ignore.
So what can you do? Today, right now?
First, start to reach out to your managers and develop a dialogue around working options and flexibility. One of the key factors that keep men and women from thinking about having a family is the fact that they BOTH need to work and the thought of caring for a child is frankly overwhelming. Even when they are willing to make any type of sacrifice the truth is that many countries are going through slow economic growth- the environment around them is not conducive to long term planning- unless you the employer come up with creative options.
Second, talk with your employees; ask what can you do to make it easier for them to factor family into their “modern life” – You will be pleasantly surprised at how creative both men and women can be in offering work style options.
Third, does your corporate culture send signals that in order to succeed and be promotable you have to commit to growling schedules, 24/7 availability, and never say “No, I can’t do that”?
It’s quite fascinating to me that today we still find global organizations asking their employees to behave as if we are still in the “manufacturing” era. Those days are gone and yet people still want to manage and “lead” by power and expect loyalty to the organization just because they are employed by you.
Don’t overlook this issue and let it to become a crisis, the consequence cannot be ignored.
Author: Elisabet Rodriguez Dennehy, President Rodriguez and Associates LLC