Talent Pressures and the Aging Workforce: Wholesale Sector
by Stephen Sweet and Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes with Elyssa Besen, Shoghik Hovhannisyan, and Farooq Pasha
October 2010—Job redesign could be a crucial survival strategy for the US Wholesale Trade Sector as Baby Boomers take their skills with them into retirement. With over one third (34.9%) of employees in the wholesale trade sector saying their jobs interfere with family life, career progression and promotion, training, and retention programs could become increasingly more important, according to a new study by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work.
Currently wholesalers report greater problems associated with shifts in the age demographics of the workforce as compared to other sectors. From 2000-2007, the percentage of wholesale workers aged 55-64 increased by 35% compared to 28% in all industries, and employment of wholesale workers aged 65+ increased by 10%, compared to 7% in all industries.
While a large number of employees in the sector (41.7%) report being “very satisfied” in their jobs, satisfaction is significantly lower among younger employees. Further, employees in all industry sectors are more likely to be “very satisfied” than in the wholesale trade sector, suggesting that wholesale workers may be more willing to seek work elsewhere. As compared to other industry sectors, Wholesale has the most trouble recruiting competent job applicants.
To minimize work-family conflicts and increase job satisfaction especially for younger employees:
- Job designs and expectations could be reworked in the Wholesale Trade Sector;
- Increased workplace flexibility would allow and encourage older employees to remain in the workforce; and
- For a workforce disproportionately composed of men (70%), opening the sector to women and hiring employees from diverse age groups could further help to mitigate the imminent skill exodus.