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AARP Tool Helps HR Managers Assess Future

A new tool introduced by AARP aims to help HR managers gather the data they need to show how the maturing workforce may affect their companies and provide action steps to address those challenges.

August 19, 2008
Most HR managers for the past few years have been reading about the pending talent shortage their companies will face once the baby boomers retire. Yet few of them have the backing of their CEOs to start addressing the issue.

The problem is, HR often doesn’t have the data to back up the belief that their companies will be affected as the baby boomers leave the workforce, experts say.

“Until they feel it, many CEOs tend to not take action,” says Jamie Hale, practice leader of workforce planning at Watson Wyatt Worldwide.

A new tool introduced by AARP aims to help HR managers gather the data they need to show how the maturing workforce may affect their companies and provide action steps to address those challenges.

AARP created its Workforce Assessment Tool because it was increasingly hearing HR managers say they knew about the changing demographics of their workforces but didn’t know how to go about confronting them, says Deborah Russell, director of workforce issues at AARP. “But we also wanted the tool to generate a report that the HR manager could bring to the decision makers at the company to illustrate the issue and how it’s going to affect their organization.”

Users complete a multistep online questionnaire that asks about the company’s organizational structure, demographics and culture as well as what kind of programs the company has in place, such as training and development and flexible work arrangements.

Upon completing the questionnaire, users receive a report detailing the demographics of their organizations, identifying skill shortages and detailing action steps the company can take to get ahead of the problem.

For example, after using the tool, executives at CVS learned that while they were doing a lot already to attract and retain older workers, they needed to do more to bring them together with younger employees, says Stephen Wing, director of workforce initiatives.

As a result, the pharmacy chain recently launched its Senior Pharmacist Legacy Mentoring Program, by which senior pharmacists act as mentors to inner-city students attending pharmacy school, Wing says.

The tool is also helpful in forcing companies to make sure they are gathering the right data, says Bernadette Kenny, senior vice president of HR at Adecco Group North America, a Melville, New York-based temporary staffing company that has used the tool.

—Jessica Marquez

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