Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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FutureNomics for Associations – What Associations Need To Do to Be Invaluable in 2025

My name is Mary Kelly. I’m an economist, a university professor, a CEO, business owner and I’ve written 11 books on business and leadership issues. Today I’m going to talk a little bit about economic factors that we need to know about heading into the future, some leadership issues that we need to understand so that we are best prepared as associations and organizations moving into the future, and ways we can best prepare by looking at work trends heading into 2025.

So what do you need to consider leading your association in 2025? Well, in 2020, 50% of the workforce is actually made up of millennials. By 2025, that jumps up to 75%. Now, as organizations are trying to lead their millennials, they are finding that the new workforce is taking more responsibility for self-education and self-training. What we’re seeing then is our four-year education requirements may not be as important as people training themselves and workplace development for the jobs they’re actually in. Keep in mind that 65% of the jobs that will be done by Generation Z well, we don’t even know what those jobs are.

For associations, if we can be part of that team that helps our members with their workplace development, the education and the training they need to be successful in their jobs, then we are going to be in high demand. There are literally thousands of economic factors I’m looking at right now as heading into 2025. But let me just give you few that you might want to consider as we move forward. First, the LFPR – the Labor Force Participation Rate – now that’s the number that indicates how many people in United States are currently working or looking for a job. Right now we’ve got millennials who are not in the labor force and they need to be. By 2025, they will be.

We’ve also got Baby Boomers. Now remember, the Baby Boomers are retiring at about the rate of 10,000 per day. They’re turning 65 or they’re just getting out of the workforce. We need the baby boomers in the workforce because the labor force participation rate needs to be higher. And our baby boomers are living a little bit longer, and because of that, they’re staying in the workforce longer, they’re living healthier lives, and that’s a positive impact. For those people who are retiring, some of them are intending to retire at 65 but others are intending to work until they are 65 or 67, or even later because again they’re living healthier lives.

But some of them have had to leave the workforce earlier, the average is at 62, to help out with family health concerns, of a spouse, parent, or child, so they have to retire earlier than anticipated. Right now, with this huge migration of baby boomers, either heading into retirement or having to retire, some organizations have not adequately prepared for their succession planning. This is critical to making sure the organization has a solid future.

And the third is our wages. Wages are going to increase in 2018 and 2019. This is 2018 and they’re certainly going to increase this year. We often see in the news the minimum wage discussion. The minimum wage issue is really kind of a red herring; it doesn’t really matter, because there’s only about 10 million Americans who are making minimum wage. Now moving into the future, those people who are making minimum wage right now, they have a wonderful opportunity to make more because they can self-train for jobs that are going to be required in the future. You don’t necessarily need a college degree, a formalized degree from a four-year institution in order to get a great paying job.

This is where associations are critical. If you are helping your people with their succession planning, with the flexibility they need in order to find other job and with job opportunities an job training, you’re going to be in the leading area. What else do we need to think about? More and more people are taking the opportunity to work from home. Most of us have computers at home and there’s really no reason we can’t work when we want, wherever we want. Leaders are going to have a tough time explaining to future workers why they can’t work when they want, where they want and how they want. So 20% of us right now are working from home, fulltime.

That number jumps up to 43% when we think about the people who are working from home one day a week, part-time, or working in alternate locations. Now, for a lot of conservative, traditional, old school thinkers, this is a hard concept to grasp. Except it’s always been the case. How many deals have been done in a bar, in a restaurant, over dinner, or on the golf course? We’ve been doing business in more informal settings for decades. And this is just another way we’re seeing this moving forward. However, this work from home trend also comes with a cost. We know that people work better when they’re spurted by creativity from other people.

Interactions and just bumping into people in the hallway with casual conversations spurs creativity,
innovation, and increases collaborative productivity. The reality is, we need each other. I think in 2025, you’re going to see a job called the HCO – the Human Contact Officer. And this is going to be the person responsible for bringing people together so that they can exchange ideas in comfortable settings, maybe in the workplace scenario, but something a little less formal than the standard conference room area.

Remember, millennials don’t just want a job; they want a cause. They want to be part of something bigger. The baby boomers wanted that too, but they didn’t express it quite as clearly, or with such fervor that the millennials are doing. And I think we’re going to see the same for generation Z. They’ve been brought up in environment where their privacy is virtually gone, they connect with people through technology, and they are incredibly comfortable with the tools we have had to learn, and that’s the next issue. Technology is going to continue accelerate at an even more rapid phase. Things like A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) are going to be part of at least 40% of everything we do by 2025.

Many people are not even familiar with the idea of chatbots, but that’s going to be huge in 2025. If you’re in an association, you’ve got to make sure you are technologically up to speed on everything your members are expecting from you. Do you have everything you need in order to move forward? Because if you don’t, your members will leave you. You’ve got to make sure your technology is where your members want to be. It’s kind of like fishing. You have to go fishing where the fish are. If all of your members are in the technological space, and you’re not there, you’re going to lose members.

We’ve seen this wave of remote workers. You might be surprised to know that the average remote workers is 49 years old, has a college degree, and works at home because either they are geographically distant from the headquarters, or perhaps they’re traveling, or perhaps they’ve got families or other commitments that they need to attend, to but they’re completely able to do their job, wherever they need to be. So this idea of remote workers is going to grow larger; partly because geographically, we have to access talent wherever we can find it.

As an association, your members may be all over the globe. You have to make sure you’re appealing to the members wherever they are, and whatever workspace they’re in, and that’s going to help you help them better.

We’re also going to see more of the gig-economy; more contract workers in organization. Many of those baby boomers who are turning 65 every single day thought they will be able to work until at least 65 or 67. The reality is, many of them are not. The average retirement age in the United States right now is 62. And that’s even with the baby boomers stay in the workforce longer and living longer.

As I said, they’re leaving the workforce because the health concern for themselves, their spouse, their parents or a child. These health concerns are taking them out of the workforce earlier than anticipated. And what this means is that the millennials is now have the opportunity to step into those roles. However, they’re not planning on leaving the workforce at 62; and they didn’t put a plan in place. Strategic planning for organizations is going to be huge. If you’re in an association who can help your members strategically plan for the next generation taking over, that succession planning, you’re going to be in high demand.

Now in the past, many companies paid for their workers to be part of the association. Well now those contract workers maybe part of the organization, but as a contractor and not as a fulltime employee, this is going to change. As we have more of these contract workers, this independence, those who are working perhaps on a project on 3 months, 6 months or 9 months, a year, maybe even a couple years, they’re not considered that fulltime worker. However, they still need the support they get from an association. They still need that education, that training, and those conferences that bring people together and help spur new ideas.

So make sure you’re appealing to not just the workers of a company. That’s the old standard. Make sure you’re appealing to those people who are those contractors, those part-timers, and those other individuals who are part of that industry who need your help. This is an exciting time for associations as we move into the future. There’s a few questions we need to ask.

One, is my association positioned to remain relevant as we move five, ten and fifteen years into the future?

Number two, are we providing the necessary skills, training, education and networking for our members so that they’re prepared for future job opportunities?

Third, as an association, have we done what we need to do to prepare our leadership for what our succession planning looks like for our association? Are we bringing in new members? Are we bringing new volunteers? Is our board structured the way it needs to be? Are we prepared to move into the future?

And number four, are we looking economically at the development that we need in order to make sure we are the leaders in our industry?

Thank you so much for your time and attention. I hope to see you soon.


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