The study surveyed more than 240 global learning executives on issues including the impact of changing workforce demographics on their organizations, approaches to knowledge transfer, perceptions of learning preferences among workers of different generations, and barriers to learning. The study builds upon IBM's leadership in insights and solutions to help organizations navigate the challenges and opportunities of the multi-generational workforce, and IBM and ASTD's joint research into the role of learning in organizational success.
Public, private and not-for-profit (including government) organizations across eight industry sectors in North America, South America, Asia-Pacific, and EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) responded to the study, which was carried out online in June-July, 2006. Over 70 percent of respondents were learning executives or professionals, with the balance including HR executives, and senior management outside of the learning function.
"IBM has taken the lead in bringing the issue of the multi-generational workforce to the forefront," noted Eric Lesser, Associate Partner, IBM Institute for Business Value. "Our research has clearly demonstrated that C-level and human capital executives recognize the impact that changing workforce demographics will have on their organizations. This new study delves into the learning function to determine its current and potential role in managing the workforce shifts that organizations around the world will experience in the forthcoming months and years. What we've found are significant gaps between learning executives' recognition of the challenge, and their belief that they and their organizations are addressing it effectively."
"Learning executives identified knowledge transfer, removing barriers to learning for mature workers, and meeting the needs of the next generation of employees as their greatest challenges related to changing workforce demographics," said Ray Rivera, Director, Workplace Learning and Performance Scorecard, ASTD Research. "Yet, less than half think their organizations are doing enough to tackle these challenges, and only about 40 percent believe their companies are addressing their overall skill and capacity needs over the next three to five years. These findings suggest that many organizations remain unprepared for workforce shifts of potentially 'tectonic' magnitude."
Among the study's specific findings:
-- Over 80 percent of learning executives believe that changing workforce demographics will have a notable influence on their organizations, yet only 46 percent of learning executives report their organizations are doing either a "good" or "excellent" job in addressing demographic shifts. -- Learning executives are keenly aware of the need to preserve and transfer critical knowledge before employees retire or leave an organization for other reasons. Yet, while organizations are making strides in areas such as mentoring and knowledge repositories, less than one-third incorporate knowledge transfer into traditional learning programs. Recruiting mature workers to deliver classroom content, fostering communities of practice, and capturing and embedding knowledge into existing learning programs are among the practices organizations are under- utilizing. Virtually no companies, only about 2 percent, are using multimedia, such as audio/video interviews, to capture knowledge and insights from retiring employees. -- Over one-third of organizations believe that mature workers participate in learning activities less than younger workers, and that older workers encounter more barriers in participating in learning activities. -- Learning leaders are concerned about streamlining the learning curve for new employees, not only as they replace older workers, but in organizations with rapid growth, especially in emerging economies such as China and India. Rapid "on-boarding" is taking on new priority as demographic shifts gather steam.Based on these findings, IBM and ASTD see five key action steps for learning executives:
-- Work with HR and line-of-business leaders to increase awareness and visibility of changing workforce demographic issues. -- Develop a knowledge transfer strategy to address high-value knowledge at risk in the organization. -- Consider learner preferences as an input into a larger training delivery strategy. -- Identify relevant opportunities for mature workers to take part in learning activities, including non-traditional learning experiences. -- Focus on reducing the cycle time and increasing the effectiveness of on-boarding and management development efforts.More information about the IBM/ASTD Changing Workforce Demographics and the Learning Function study may found at http://www.astd.org/astd/research/research_reports.
ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) is the world's largest association dedicated to workplace learning and performance professionals. ASTD's members come from more than 100 countries and connect locally in 140 U.S. chapters and 24 Global Networks. Members work in thousands of organizations of all sizes, in government, as independent consultants, and suppliers.
ASTD started in 1944 when the organization held its first annual conference. ASTD has widened the profession's focus to link learning and performance to individual and organizational results, and is a sought-after voice on critical public policy issues. For more information, visit www.astd.org.
For more information, visit www.ibm.com/learning.
Contact: Jenny Galitz IBM 917-472-3426 Email Contact Jennifer Homer ASTD 703-683-8123 Email Contact