Demographic Trends HR,
Managers and CEOs Need to Be Aware of
There are demographic trends HR personnel, management, and CEOs need to be aware of. According to demographic trends analyst, Cheryl Russell, by the year 2005, the most common household in the US will be the single-person household. "Never before in American history has living alone been the predominant lifestyle," says Russell, and the time is fast approaching.
According to the American Association for Single people (http://www.singlesrights.com/main.html), the 2000 UC Census reported that 82 million men and women in the United States are unmarried. This figure includes nearly 20 million adults who are divorced, 13.6 million who are widowed, and more than 48 million who have never married.
The Census Bureau has projected that between the ages of 15 and 85, the average man and woman will experience more years being unmarried than they will being married.
According to this data, a huge and growing population is choosing to be alone. If you define adults as those over 18, 44% of US adults - that's nearly half -- are singles. Of the 18 to 24 age group, 85.9% are single. This is a very substantial change from a generation ago, and this is the group that will be coming your way!
The American Association for Single People (AASP) projects that by 2010, 47.2% of the adults over the age of 18 will be unmarried. If we assume that this trend continues, and Cheryl Russell is not the only one who thinks it will, what will this mean to the workplace?
First of all, there will be increasing pressure for economic, political, corporate, and legal reforms to accommodate this shift to unmarried adults.
Secondly, it seems probable that adults are going to be seeking more connection, and more social contact at work - with nearly half of workers being single.
While living alone does not necessarily mean lonely, it does mean that whatever emotional needs were being met previously by marriage will not be met. Those adults who live alone will have less emotional support and fewer outlets for emotional expression and meaningful contact outside of the workplace.
And, meanwhile, what is the biggest problem for most employers today? Finding good workers and retaining them. In the same way that the workplace began, of necessity, to accommodate to the needs of dual-working couples, by providing flexible schedules and on-site daycare for instance, the smart company is going to begin thinking about what these demographics mean.
It seems to me that two forces are going to come together -- a continued need to secure and retain the best employees, and the growing number of single or unmarried adults in the workforce - that will mandate bringing more emotional intelligence into the workplace.
One mandate for emotional intelligence exists regardless of extraneous conditions: We are simply more effective when we are able to manage our emotions and the emotions of others, to relate well, to inspire, coalesce teams, motivate, find creative solutions, get along, lead.
The other mandate for emotional intelligence is trend-dependent - a workforce of increasingly single and/or unmarried persons whose emotional and social needs may be pressing, and who may be seeking to meet more of these at work, or at any rate to exercise them.
If you want to attract and retain the best workers, a cold, authoritarian, sterile and unfeeling workplace is not going to cut it. A human being can't live alone in the evening and at night, and then work alone all day in an emotionally inert atmosphere. Isolation - literally or figuratively - has been shown repeatedly to be as bad for our health or worse than smoking, high blood pressure, and/or obesity, sometimes combined. It affects both mental and physical health, and "isolation" means lack of meaningful human contact.
We can begin now to instigate programs in the workplace that allow us to tap further into one of the most powerful of our intelligences, our emotional intelligence. When we experience and manage our emotions and those of others, we work better, we feel better, and we are better. When we treat one another with respect, dignity, integrity, and compassion, we work better, feel better and are better. Developing emotional intelligence gives each individual a chance to increase work effectiveness and satisfaction, deepen relationships, strengthen leadership talents, and awaken creative spirit, and it can be learned. It then becomes a force multiplier.
In sum, then, why wait? Bring an EQ program to your workplace now.
Susan Dunn, M.A., is an executive coach, speaker, writer, and author of a series of ebooks on emotional intelligence. She is dedicated to bringing EQ into the workplace with seminars and workshops, individual coaching, and adjunctive distance learning courses. Visit her on the web at www.susandunn.cc and mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org for a free ezine about EQ in the workplace. Please put "EQ" in the subject line.
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