We live in an era of disruption. The workplaces and career trajectories we took for granted in the past no longer exist. Due to changes in technology, the economy, and changing needs of generations from Baby Boomers to Millenials, the shape of the labor force must be reimagined in order to survive. This applies to associations who not only need to hold onto valuable staff members, but who must also attract members and volunteers across their profession.

But before we can consider solutions, let’s take a closer look at the enduring problems of the workforce crisis, including skyrocketing turnover, declining productivity, and accelerating change in demographics and technology.

In the US, we lose on average of $30.5 billion to employee turnover. We are experiencing the worst employee turnover in history, which is absolutely a turnover epidemic. Costs incurred by this include the gaps in output when a role goes unfilled, training, recruitment, and the learning and development of skills that can only be nurtured over the long-term.

The statistics are overwhelming. You might ask, why should we worry about the workforce crisis now, amongst all the other day-to-day pressures on our association? Don’t these issues fluctuate over time? Unfortunately, the situation has been on the decline for decades and the symptoms of the crisis show no signs of slowing. We must address these symptoms with the urgency they require.

In my new book, Talent Generation: How Visionary Organizations are Redefining Success and Achieving Greater SuccessI detail how job satisfaction began to decline in the 1960s, alongside productivity. Unhappy employees hit the headlines with even more frequency by the 1980s. Soon after, declining membership became a tangible problem. In the heyday of the Boomer generation, people moved easily into positions of power and expertise as part of a large and influential age group. Industries rested on their laurels instead of considering what would happen when these professionals retired. Now the cracks are showing, and younger generations who require different engagement are falling through them.

Change accelerates these problems in our workforce crisis: change in technology, demand for new skills, urban redevelopment and global shifts in the economy. To create a sustainable future, nothing short of an innovative overhaul will suffice. Associations can use their industry-wide reach, from education to government to companies, to build a smooth road into the future of work.

There is hope for tackling this crisis. In part two of this series, I will share some of the most effective tactics I have come across for combatting these problems. Hint: it requires a people-first mentality and a focus on the future…

Does this topic intrigue you? Sarah spoke on this subject at SURGE 2017, a free virtual summit we hosted November 7-9th. Click here to access the replay of the session.

XYZ University

Since 2002, my life’s work has been dedicated to research, strategy development, training, and education to bridge the generation gaps that exist in organizations worldwide and engage future generations of talent. I founded the nation’s first and only firm solely focused on this mission. XYZ University has an exceptional track record of helping organizations reduce turnover, grow membership, develop leaders, and seize market share among Generations X, Y and Z.

Since 2002, my life’s work has been dedicated to research, strategy development, training, and education to bridge the generation gaps that exist in organizations worldwide and engage future generations of talent. I founded the nation’s first and only firm solely focused on this mission. XYZ University has an exceptional track record of helping organizations reduce turnover, grow membership, develop leaders, and seize market share among Generations X, Y and Z.

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