New Theory of Generations-Publication
Ludmila Shusterova

Director for Strategic Development, BDO Unicon Outsourcing

Finally, what HR managers have been talking about for so long has become true. Nowadays, the labour market has to face the consequences of the demographic decline in the 2000-s. Boys and girls who were born within the period from 1985 till 1995 are not able to compensate for the manpower shortage arising from the natural population decline. This situation is made even worse by the poor education offered by the higher education institutions caused by the wide-scale outflow of the best teachers into business or abroad looking for research grants.

Today, the graduates of these educational institutions knock on the door of the companies, and the latter jostle for the possibility to hire yesterday’s students, regardless of their inflated salary requirements.

This is the situation HR directors of nearly all the companies are currently confronted with. This problem is particularly acute for certain sectors: this pertains first and foremost to the technical industry occupations which were not prestigious in the 1990-s and 2000-s. However, at present, even the financial sector has great difficulties in finding specialists meeting the high requirements of an international company, despite the fact that the higher education institutions seem to have prepared thousands of them, and the HR Department of BDO Outsourcing has fully experienced this.

Is there any way out of this impasse? Is it possible to engage any extra labour and how? Is labour migration the only possible solution to this problem?

As for the last question, I suppose it is not the only solution possible. Firstly, labour migration does not allow compensating for the highly skilled manpower shortage, even provided that Russia intensively engages highly educated Russian-speaking specialists from its neighbouring states. Secondly, the current migration laws place great obstacles to the entrepreneurs choosing this way out. The situation I’m talking about is fairly evident for any director that has once tried to hire a foreigner as a middle-level manager, a position that is very important for the company, but who is not eligible for the benefits set by the law “On Legal Status of Foreign Citizens” for highly paid specialists.

It seems to me that the Russian market still has its personnel reserve which the managers are not used to consider. These are white and blue collars of 55 years and over.

I’ve shocked you, haven’t I? Indeed, the image of a silver-haired manager or factory foreman seems to be contrary to the image of an ever-young, dynamic and stylish businessman, which has been an ideal of the recent 20 years, doesn’t it?

Just think of it. You see, you have a quite limited number of young specialists that still have much to learn and an army of experienced employees of pre-retirement and retirement age that have sound understanding of their industry issues and might possess some unique information sometimes. And, please note that the latter are more numerous. So, who will be your fighting force for the next five to ten years?

Elderly employees are very loyal and the situation in the country plays into the hands of HR directors. Highly paid engineers, economists, chemists with grey temples do not seek to change their good salary and managerial positions for a modest pension of 6,000-10,000 roubles. They are ready to learn in order not to lag behind and they are ready to teach and share their knowledge with the young men and women that come to your companies to get their first work experience. They know much and can do much. Certainly, they need training like any young specialists. But unlike their younger colleagues, they lack the so-called “soft skills”, rather than the fundamental knowledge, and this gap is much easier to fill in.

This group of employees has obviously their own specifics. They might be more conservative and understand new information a little bit slower. Such people are very sensitive as regards subordination and demand recognition and respect. They appreciate quite different employment benefits: they prefer closeness of their workplaces to the place of residence and a wider package of voluntary health insurance to higher salaries and corporate events.

However, these employees obviously deserve each rouble to be invested in their retention in the company and making it possible for them to pass their knowledge to young colleagues.

I think, in the near future HR departments will have to elaborate special policy both for young and older specialists. The future of many companies working in hi-tech industries depends much on the fact whether they will be able to adequately use this gold reserve. Thus, sometimes it is worth looking back in order to go forward.

Author: Lyudmila Shusterova, Director of strategic development, BDO Unicon Outsourcing


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