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HPMD Quotes & Sources

Here are some thought provoking excerpts from Business Week's cover story titled 'Brain Drain" (Jennifer Reingold with Diane Brady, Business Week, September 20, 1999, pp. 113 - 126):

"Even amid today's lavish signing bonuses and perk-laden employment contracts, it's a sweet deal. Work anywhere in the world doing whatever you want whenever you want to. No, this is not the latest lure to attract Silicon Valley hotshots or Wall Street dealmeisters. It's Deloitte Consulting's bid to retain a group that until recently was being rushed out the door by Corporate America: executives over 50. Deloitte's Senior Leaders Program, an innovative plan aimed at its best senior partners, begins next June.

What's behind Deloitte's move? Simple demographics. In order to serve its far-flung clients, the consulting firm must maintain a standing army of highly skilled partners ready to fly to any city in the world at any time. But over the next five years, the number of Deloitte partners over 50 will double, to about 230--more than a quarter of the current total. In a grueling profession that attracts people with high pay and pensions that vest at 50, Deloitte knew that unless it moved fast, many of those partners would head straight for the exits. To fight back, it's letting a select group of its brightest stars restructure their jobs almost any way they want, perhaps downshifting from full-time to part-time, or from consulting to mentoring."

Business Week, September 20, 1999, p. 113
. . .

"Already, other companies are moving decisively to hang on to their most experienced workers. Instead of severing contact when their top performers reach retirement age, they're finding ways to keep them engaged--and their own talent pool stocked. Companies such as Chevron (CHV), Prudential Insurance, and Monsanto (MTC) are tailoring consulting contracts and part-time assignments to accommodate older workers. Some of those seniors are transferring wisdom and skills to younger colleagues. Others have been brought out of retirement to fill critical skill gaps temporarily or to circle the globe as ministers of corporate goodwill."

Business Week, September 20, 1999, p. 113
. . .

" 'If companies continue to require that working for them is an all-or-nothing proposition,' says Dennis R. Coleman, a principal at PricewaterhouseCoopers, 'they will find people reaching 55 and going to work for competitors who are offering flexible employment opportunities.' "

"What companies won't be able to do is simply avoid the issue. Plummeting birthrates have corresponded with the rise of the knowledge-based economy, which demands more and more white-collar workers. Between 1998 and 2010, the number of managerial jobs will rise by 21%, according to Development Dimensions International, while the number of people between 35 and 50 will fall by 5%. Already, the median age of the U.S. workforce is nearly 40, up from 34.9 in 1979. Even with productivity gains and immigration, there won't be enough people to meet the demand."

Business Week, September 20, 1999, p. 114
. . .

"Indeed, until recently most companies thought there were too many people at the water cooler, not too few. The past decade has seen wave after wave of downsizing. And as high-tech businesses have begun to lead the economy, respect for wisdom has been squashed by the notion that the less history you know, the better. The 25-year-old director of development has become the norm at many Internet companies; the 55-year-old manager, a novelty."

Business Week, September 20, 1999, p. 114
. . .

"One company that has a headstart on the issue is Chevron Corp. It recognized it had a problem three years ago. Falling oil prices had forced a series of downsizings, and a lot of the buyout packages went to Chevron's most experienced managers. It didn't hurt at first, says Barry D. Leskin, Chevron's general manager for learning and development. ''We had so many within that band that we were able to downsize and still retain the expertise we needed,'' he says. ''Now you see some cracks in that system.''

To make sure it's not caught shorthanded, Chevron has taken several steps. First, all operating units must conduct a demographic analysis each year to pinpoint where talent shortages will hit first. Succession planning is being ramped up to make sure qualified managers are in place when others retire. And to build skills, Leskin is lowering the age at which people are sent to executive programs."

Business Week, September 20, 1999, p. 114
. . .

"The moral of the story? Flexibility pays. As some companies have learned through their experiences with working mothers and others, retention means meeting your most valued employees' needs. It's as true for the silver set as for any group. ''It makes sense to think of [employees] as customers,'' says Lynn M. Martin, 59, former U.S. Labor Secretary under President George Bush and currently an adviser to Deloitte & Touche. ''Companies that are going to need [these people] are talking about being customer- and market-friendly. Now they'll have to ask employees what they want.'' "

Business Week, September 20, 1999, p. 115
. . .

"Oddly enough, one of the most experience-hungry industries has been the youth-centric computer-technology business. Older executives may not know Java or SAP, but they have something else the technology world can use--business experience. Many have been recruited as board members in Silicon Valley startups."

Business Week, September 20, 1999, p. 120

Short Quote:

"Flexibility pays. As some companies have learned through their experiences with working mothers and others, retention means meeting your most valued employees' needs." --Jennifer Reingold
© Copyright 1999, 2000, HP Management Decisions Ltd., All Rights Reserved.

Author:Reingold , Jennifer with Diane Brady
Title:Brain Drain
Periodical:Business Week
Publisher:McGraw Hill
Place (City):New York
Publication Date:9/20/99
Source Type:Periodical
Quote Number:111
Categories:Succession Planning, Human Resources