Say “Bon Voyage” to the Experienced Workforce

A few months ago, I went to the retirement and going-away party for my neighbor, Don. He had worked in the same job his whole career, which is amazing to me. Now, in his early 60s, Don was leaving to sail away to the Caribbean islands – a great retirement dream that he earned.

At the party, I tried to think of other people I know who stayed at one job for decades. My grandfather came to mind. Also, my parents are close behind in years at their jobs– having made switches early in their careers before settling into their final employers for several decades.

As the workforce changes, those days are gone. Today, 91% of Millennials expect to stay in a job less than three years, according to a survey by Future Workplace. A new job every three years or less makes for a lot of jobs in a lifetime – and a lot of employee turnover and inexperienced workers.

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Not only is this culture shift impacting the workforce, but high rates of retirement create a double whammy. We have 65,000 people a day reaching retirement age, a trend that is expected to last 10 years. Don, as an example, was an expert at his job, and his replacement knows less and will probably leave within a few years.

What happens when people change jobs that frequently? Managers of industrial organizations know and are living it every day. When the workforce has high turnover, it means constant training, higher risk as well as errors and waste. How can you meet organizational goals and stay in compliance with regulations when your employees don’t know their jobs?

At GE, Real-time Operational Intelligence software helps to enable our workforce. We can use software to both capture critical best practices before our most experienced workers retire and then guide new workers through the steps to do their jobs properly. This is a method that works.

Younger operators, who grew up with electronics, easily can interact with dynamic task instructions through intuitive screens, including inputting data and notes. Additionally, GPS technology is powerful in the industrial environment, enabling the right information to the right operator at the right place. This is a natural extension of electronic devices in our operators’ personal lives and helps them be successful in the workplace.

GE IPWith modern technology, we can meet the challenges of our modern workforce. Today’s operators can have the information they need, in their hand or in front of them, anywhere, anytime – letting them know what they need to do and how to do it. With the right information, today’s operators can deliver the right results for your organization. Check out this infographic that shows how you can enable your operators today, for mutual success.

If you’re frustrated with your workforce, don’t get ready to retire and sail away yet. In the first weeks of his retirement, Don had a sailing disaster. He was travelling down the Intracoastal Waterway in Florida, took a wrong turn, and accidentally ran his mast into power lines, bouncing off and coming back on, and hitting not once but several times. Miraculously, Don and his wife are fine. The boat didn’t fare as well – all of the windows were blown out, and the electronics are ruined. Don is getting the boat repaired. He still has his great dream and hasn’t given up. For the rest of us, after we’ve stuck it out at our jobs for a long time, flying to the islands might be a better option.

Alicia Bowers

Alicia Bowers believes that automation software can help industrial organizations overcome many challenges, including retiring workforces, global competition, and tightening regulations. She has published in industry magazines, ranging from Food Manufacturing to Hydrocarbon Engineering, and is the recipient of a MESA Outstanding Contribution Award. Connect with Alicia on LinkedIn.

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