Implications for Human Resources (HR) and their OrganizationsUnderstanding one of the largest segments of the American population is key to the strategic goal of ensuring a sustainable workforce.
There are several demograhic changes impacting the U.S. These include an aging workforce, an increasing number of millennials in the workplace, more females graduating and entering the workforce, and increasing diversity from an ethnic perspective, in particular the Asian and Hispanic/Latino demographics (Cohn, 2016). These groups also have a higher probability of facing discrimination or bias as they enter or try to remain in the workforce.
* (While Latino and Hispanic are used throughout this article. The author realizes they have different origins. It is used for convenience.)
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) and Society for Human Resources (SHRM) partnered on a study that looked at the implications of this changing workforce demographic (Coulombe, & Gil, 2016). Organizations face a coming shortage of a skilled workforce that is exacerbated by an aging and soon-to-retire experienced workforce. This skill shortage is not only for the U.S., but for the world with a particular crucial point being the year 2030 as highlighted in a recent TED Talk (Strack, 2014). There are, however, the silver linings: more Latinos/ Hispanics are going to college and they make-up the largest portion of the millennial population.
Presently, there are 53 million Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S., which means that it has more Latinos/Hispanics and more Spanish-speaking individuals than any other country in the world except Mexico. This group is also the youngest population, averaging 27 years of age, while the larger Anglo population’s average age is 40 (Rodriguez, 2007). Latino millennials make up 44 percent of the millennial age group. Every 30 seconds, two non- Hispanics reach retirement age while one Hispanic turns 18 (Llopis, 2015).
This population is also positioned to pump in almost $1.7 trillion into the economy by 2020. If this group were a country, that would make it 16th in the world out of 193 countries from a GDP perspective (Rodriguez, 2007). The Latino/Hispanic demographic is growing, is younger, is better connected, and is increasingly educated (Eisenach, 2016). In essence, this group is “Making America Rich Again.”
Unfortunately, while the number of Latino/Hispanic millennials is growing, so is the perception of discrimination among them. Of those surveyed, 65 percent recently agreed there was discrimination against them (Ramirez, 2016). Since it is expected that in this year Latinos will make up the largest segment of entrants into the workplace, this presents both a challenge and opportunity for organizations, their leadership, and their HR professionals.
It is imperative that organizations understand this group better and develop a strategic approach toward working with this important demographic. As a group, Latinos/Hispanics tend to favor humility, respect for authority, modesty, and interdependence (Rodriguez, 2007). Organizations should be mindful of those organizations making specific efforts to attract this group. Miami Children’s Health System, Marriott International, and Baptist Health South Florida, among others, have been highlighted as organizations where their Latino/Hispanic employees feel there is a sense of fairness, opportunities for advancement, and job satisfaction (Fortune Editors, 2016). Latinos/Hispanics consider job security, along with an organization’s reputation and stability, very important. Because of this, organizations need to plan a comprehensive career development approach (Erickson, 2014).
Workforce consultant Rainer Strack suggests organizations consider a four-prong human capital strategic approach for the workforce and skills shortage: He suggests that plans (1) allow proper forecasting of supply and demand, (2) attract high caliber workers, (3) ensure education and skill development, and (4) contact a strategy to retain their workforce, recognizing that high-quality workers will be in high demand (Strack, 2014).
While this four-prong approach addresses the general workforce issue, organizations also need to consider what strategy they will use specifically to attract and retain this growing Hispanic/Latino workforce. This group comes into the workforce with different expectations, especially those who are millennials. Although the group is not monolithic, the acronym, LATINOS, may help us keep key concepts in mind:
L ean in and learn what it will take to attract this growing and diverse workforce. Look to organizations that are doing this well already, learn from them, and adapt.
A ssess whether your organizational culture is welcoming and inclusive. Create strategies to assimilate this growing workforce.
T end to both this growing demographic but also the organization overall. You don’t want to create a “we/they” dysfunctional culture within the organization.
I nnovate and integrate this workforce not only into individual contributor roles, but into leadership roles. They can serve as role models, mentors, and recruiters.
N eutralize the effects of discrimination. Discrimination and the perception of discrimination not only create legal and financial headaches, but impacts the organizational brand and affects the recruitment of a Latino/Hispanic workforce.
O perate your strategy aggressively and swiftly. If you don’t, your competition will.
S trategy should be implemented with a systemic point of view in mind. Consider organizational culture, accountability, rewards, communications, and transparency among others. In summary, take a holistic approach to addressing this human capital issue and organizational strategy.
Changing demographics are forcing organizations to adapt in order to be successful. It is estimated that only 70 of the Fortune 500 companies that existed in 1955 still exist. Technology is creating new business models and the workforce needs to be ready for these on-going changes. Organizations will either adapt or disappear. HR has a crucial role to play in enabling their organizations to reinvent themselves and make it a progressive, diverse 21st century organization. Hasta la vista!
End NotesCohn, D. (2016). 10 demographic trends that are shaping the U.S. and the world. Pew Research Center. March 31, 2016.
Coulombe, K., & Gil, W. (2016). The changing U.S. workforce: The growing Hispanic demographic and the workplace. Retrieved from: https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/public-policy/hr-public-policyissues/ Documents/15-0746%20CHCI_Research_Report_FNL.pdf
Eisenach, J. (2016). Making America great again: The Latino effect on economic growth. Retrieved from: http://www.nera.com/ publications/archive/2016/making-america-rich-again--the-latinoeffect- on-economic-growth.html
Erickson, T. (2014). Hispanic talent is the future for big companies. Harvard Business Review, January 14, 2014.
Fortune Editors, (2016). Where Latino employees say the love to work. Fortune Magazine, Retrieved from: http://fortune. com/2016/12/05/best-workplaces-diversity-hispanics-latinos/
Ramirez, T. (2016). Majority of Hispanic Millennials say they’ve experienced discrimination. Huffington Post, July 6, 2016.
Rodriguez, Robert. Latino Talent-Effective Strategies to Recruit, Retain, and Develop Hispanic Professionals. New York: Wiley, 2007.
Strack, R. (2014). The workforce crisis of 2030 – and how to start solving it now. Retrieved from:http://www.ted.com/talks/rainer_ strack_the_surprising_workforce_crisis_of_2030_and_how_to_ start_solving_it_now
Dr. Edwin Mouriño is a USAF veteran with over 30 years of experience in leadership development, organizational change, executive coaching, team development, diversity, and learning and development. He is currently an assistant professor at Rollins College and the founder and president of Human Capital Development. He is the author of The Perfect Human Capital Storm: Workplace Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century and the fiction book, Gringo-Latino: Historias/Stories of Pursuing El Sueño Americano/American Dream.