11 Signs We're Entering A "Demograpylypse"

demo • grap • y • lypse n.

1. a disclosure or revelation of demographics

2. an event of great importance resulting from demographic shifts

There are four major demographic shifts that will significantly influence business in the coming decade:

1. The aging population as the "baby boomers"

2 The succession of Generation Y from youngest generation to majority jobholders

3. Expansive technology savvy of the millennials and their successors

4. The increasing proportion of nonwhites (African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and others) in the U.S. is creating a "minority-majority."

The simultaneous blend and integration of these shifts, plus several socioeconomic and technology trends, will collide, creating an event called a "demograpylypse."

Considering many companies have barely budged to accommodate the two biggest demographic changes of the 20th century -- women in the workforce and increased longevity -- that presents a significant challenge for current management and business growth.

What follows is a short-list of imminent changes that will force business to change the way they recruit, hire, and retain employees as well as market and sell services and products in the marketplace:

1. Increased longevity means people will potentially enjoy 20 to 30 or more productive years of life beyond conventional retirement age. A recent study by the Future Workplace claims that 77 percent of Boomers and 82 percent of Gen X'ers are expecting to work into their 70s.

2. By 2030, when the first of the Boomers reach the age of 84, one in four Americans will be older than 65. Unless healthy later-stage adults are kept working productively, business costs will go way up, as every new worker will be working to feed already under-funded pension plans (just as the young and other working adults are starting to feed social security for a growing older population).

3. Pensions aren't the only problem. More than 36 percent of all health care costs are attributed to people 65 and older. We have to invest in prevention, wellness, early detection and therapy of all serious diseases like diabetes, dementia and Alzheimer's disease, cardiologic diseases or cancer.

4. An aging population is likely to experience increased absenteeism or force workers into reduced roles due to inherent health care problems, caregiving, and for those fortune enough, travel and other lifestyle preferences.

5. Productivity may suffer as older workers find it harder to cope with physically and mentally demanding manufacturing jobs. An aging workforce puts business at risk if older workers don't obtain the skills needed for the technological shifts we are experiencing.

6. There is a real danger of knowledge shortages within the workplace as technology and automation outpaces the ability of workers (and management) to keep up. (Watch for my article on automation in an upcoming issue.)

7. As for women, it is a no-brainer. Every company should do everything it can to tap female talent and make running a household easy for both women and men, whether it is dry-cleaning on premises, meals to take home, or more sophisticated things we haven't thought of yet for more time with children.

8. An increasing diverse melting pot due to immigration will force new cultural perspectives through every level of the most successful organizations -- from the boardroom to the mail room. Cultural open-mindedness, awareness, and acceptance will be musts for employees and management alike.

9. Businesses will need to address a "changing of the guard," as the baby boomers step down from management and Generations X and Y seek to fill their shoes. Currently 36 percent of the workforce is comprised of Gen Y (also called Millennials). By 2020, the number increases to 46 percent; by 2025, Millennials will make up 75 percent of the world's workforce.

10. In the future, management needs to accept the rise of the majority-minority, an odd concept that shows that we still haven't gotten over the idea that white males are the norm and everyone else is a stranger.

11. Technology has changed the way we think about most everything. Children, neighbors and even parents are using technology in new ways to do everyday tasks like deposit a check or board a plane. The next generation has such a strong connection to things like their mobile devices that they have a completely different outlook and expectation of technology.