An article in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, 2023

HI

Human Intelligent (HI) Workplace
Helping Leaders Help Themselves

September 21, 2023

I write the following as an Air Force veteran, student, researcher, and practitioner interested in the changing times and trends. I also write it in the honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, 2023. Last I write this as a Latino and American Baby Boomer, one that straddled two worlds, cultures, and languages. I hope you find it informative and provides you an opportunity to reflect on the changing times and the challenges and opportunities that come with change.

Nothing happens in a Vacuum

Before I begin to share my insights, research, and perspective, we need to remember that none of these changes happen in a vacuum. The world is coming out of Global Pandemic. It has created alot of changes, from working hybrid and remote, to the changing expectations of the workforce, such as more wanting happiness, purpose, appreciation, empathy, and to concepts like quiet quitting. In addition, we have the growth of AI and how may create dramatic changes for the future of work.

Population aging is a megatrend that will impact the US and many countries

In the last few years and now increasingly the world is aging. There is an interesting visual of the globe where it shows a small portion of the world in the year 2000, mainly parts of Europe, where 1/5th of the population was over the age of 60 in these countries. Fast-forward to 18 months down the road to 2025 and we see that population now become almost 1/2 of the globe. Another visual shows a map of the world where many countries are shown for either being short, some border-line, and just two Mexico and India with having enough workers for the future.

These visuals are not outliers. In the book, Stage not Age, it highlights that those over the age of 60 are a $22 trillion market. That presently there are more 60 year olds than 5 year olds and that by 2030, one in three in US will be over the age of 60. The main reason for this, is that we are just living longer. In the 1900s the average life span was 47 and today we’re up to 83.

It is estimated that over 50% of the aging workforce will continue to work after retirement, either by choice or need. This may be a good thing since many companies are beginning to feel the labor shortages that come with an aging workforce. This in spite of the fact in a study of 10,000 organizations found that 2/3 of them believed an aging workforce was a disadvantage.

This has led to myths being promoted and belived by some. Such as that the older work is too expensive. This is a point countered in the book, The Talent Revolution, where the authors point out that there is no research backing this up. Or that the traditional formula used to support this only include salaries, and not the experience and expertise of the older worker, along with turnover and retention. Another myth is that the older worker is not productive. Yet much research as cited in this book, highlights how the older worker is more loyal, takes less sick time, and with their experience and interpersonal skills are more productive.

As a larger segment of the workforce ages, the traditional career stages as we’ve come to know them have an additional stage, called Legacy Careers, which consist mainly of those 50-75. Where people in this age group are working for than just a paycheck, but for purpose, to pay it forward and help those behind them, and to continue to learn and contribute. While the following example is not necessarily about legacy, it does show how the older worker carries some extra sway. Just consider some of the big names in Hollywood, such as Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Rita Moreno, and Sigourney Weaver, and Sylvester Stallone among many others, all into their 60s, 70s and above.

While it has been found that only 15% of organizations have a strategy to address the aging workforce, there are still good examples of some being proactive and progressive in addressing this segment of society as a consumer and workforce. There are some like BMW, Marriott, Home Depot, Michelin, and Nike to name a few that are being proactive and progressive in their HR policies and practices. Where these organizations may be offering flexible and/or half-retirement, prioritizing older worker skills such as interpersonal skills (which we have found that new college graduates seem to be lacking), creating new positions and/or adapting old ones, or addressing and changing workplace ergonomics.

Bottom line with this particular aging demographic will impact the workplace with a growing segment of 65 year olds. They are impacting fitness as they continue to remain health oriented and physically active with almost 50% of those that play one of the most growing sports Pickelball are over the age of 55. In the financial services area this demographic is a $18 trillion market. They have driven the growth of home medical services, something that the Pandemic also created a new way of providing services. And last is the area of tourism where the 60-69 year olds are the biggest spenders.

However as this change takes place, in the book “Aftermath” the author points out that while America gets older and grayer, it will also become less densely White, a change that will create ripples.

Change Ahead – Cambio Adelante

In the early 1900s most of the immigrants came here from European countries. Fast forward to the 2000s and you find that most immigrants come from Mexico and Latin American countries. People can debate why this may be good or not. But one good thing is that as previously mentioned we have an aging country along with others and the Latino segment of the U.S. is keeping it younger.

In the U.S. there are 63 million Latinos, which makes the U.S. the second country in the world with most Latinos and where spanish is spoken. Another way to view this is that the U.S. has more Latinos than Canada has Canadians and Spain has Spaniards. The Latino demographic has a $2.6 trillion GDP impact in the U.S., which would make it the 16th largest economy in the world if it was a separate country. And as Dr. Rodriguez writes in his book “Latino Talent” the average age of Latinos is 27 while for the Anglo community it is 40. This when every 30 seconds two non-Latinos retire and one Latino turn 18.

In the Social Network space, there is a larger percentage of Latinos than the general population. Latinos are shaping global culture through movies, music (in the latest MTV awards it was highlighted that Latino music streamed to the sound of $1 billion), having representation in the judicial system, with the first Latina on the Supreme Court, and religion, where the Catholic Church Pope is from Argentina among others. The bottom line is that the following title in Forbes Magazine captures the impact of the growing Latino demographic in the U.S., “Without Hispanics, America’s Corporations can’t Grow and Compete”.

While some of this provides a good story there is still room for improvement. Latinos are still under-represented with not enough on executive boards or at the executive levels across major corporations. They are sometimes misrepresented as many labeled as criminals, lazy, or violent. Last, they are more times than not are under-valued, where more Latino hourly workers make less than their White counterpart. Something that can and should be addressed.

Another point that is unfortunate, is that most, including 77% of Latinos are unaware of the many Latino contributions made over the years. For example, things like the contraceptive pill, the color TV, the submarine, eye glasses, the pen, the artificial heart, the mop, the planetarium, the wheelchair, the spacesuit, and even the beret (which is usually associated with the French) all had origins with someone from Latin America or Spain. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at the many different types of contributions by Latinos. One last area worth a mention is the area of neuroscience, a field that is continuing to grow with the on-going discoveries about how our brain works and the implications for all. The father of neuroscience has been noted as Spaniard, Santiago Ramón y Cajal.

In summary, Latinos are part of the history of the U.S. and part of the cultural fabric of the country and will be an integral part of its future. They’ve contributed and will continue to contribute. They are entrepeneurs, job makers, employees, consumers, hard workers, friends and family-oriented, and economic power.

So what, now what…

As we consider these demographic shifts, organizations will need to assess their workforce’s perspective. Whether they’re aging workforce or their increasingly diverse workforce and integrate these forces into their workforce diversity strategies. They will need to like some organizations have to begun to do, revisit their HR practices and policies. They will need to assess as to whether they may be as an organization when it comes to ensuring their DEI strategy is positioning them to remain competitive. Leadership will need to reflect on their unconscious biases (which if you have brain-you have a bias), have representation of these groups, truly assess their behaviors as leaders, and create an organizational culture and environment that supports the changes taking place. Last acknowledge that change is here to stay and with it bring increased competition.

The future or el futuro looks promising if organizations recognize the workforce expectations that the Pandemic enabled. That what worked in the 20th century may no longer be value-add or work for the 21st century workplace and workforce. That the future depends on what we individually, organizations, and its leadership do today.

May you all have a great Hispanic Heritage Month, career, health, and life going forward. I truly hope you as the reader take this with my best intentions. To inform, to help the reader reflect, and to see that like always, change will continue to happen.

As one of my favorite characters Mr. Spock would say, “live long and prosper”.

Yours truly,

Edwin Mourino, Ph.D., President of The Human Intelligent (HI) Workplace

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