Workforce Development Issues Facing Business

Are you really thinking about how workforce development issues impact your organization? Outside of your current employees, have you thought about how are you and New England Assessments challenges you to think about how your company is going to prepare for the upcoming labor shortage? All indicators show that the talent market is tightening and if your organization is unprepared then you are going to be facing significant labor shortages.

If you begin to talk to your recruiting team they will tell you that the labor shortage is already here! Many labor economists were predicting that we would already be in the throes of the labor shortage right as the Millennium was upon us. Lucky for all of us, the Dot-Com bubble burst and we had a glut of talent on the market. This slowed down the impending storm and bought us some time. However, that gift is quickly eroding. According to Jim Sirbasku, CEO of Profiles International, the workforce crisis is being driven into a “perfect storm” of catastrophic proportions by…

  • A significant drop in the growth rate of the labor force
  • The impending retirement of Baby Boomers
  • A continuing paradigm shift from physical labor to a knowledge worker economy

Soon, the worldwide demand for labor will outstrip supply by 35 million jobs essentially draining $3.5 trillion in annual output from the global economy– an impact sure to be felt worldwide and math that can’t be ignored. While your competition may not be ready to address the challenge you can make sure that your company is ready to address the “war for talent” head on. Many thought that the delay in retirement of the baby boomers along with the fact that people are living longer would save off the storm. It has, in fact, changed our outlook but it hasn’t changed the problem. Here are some tools that you can use to manage talent in a tight labor market:

  • 1. Use the talent you already have
  • 2. Get flexible
  • 3. Educate your hiring managers

Let’s dive into each of the tools in more detail. It is my belief that each of these steps is critical for any company that is interested in hiring and retaining top performers and winning the war for talent. At first the differences will be slight but each competitive advantage will set the winners apart from the losers. Step 1: Use the talent you already have to its fullest capacity Most companies hire people into their initial jobs and never give them a second thought. In today’s market, exceptional employees are always looking to upgrade their skills. Given that superior performers outperform average performers by 34% (1), it is surprising to learn that most companies do little to improve the skills and motivation for the average employee. Understanding what makes superior performers “tick” is knowledge that most organizations just don’t take the time to acquire. What can you do? Start by talking to your top performers. Ask them these three questions:

  • 1. What interest you about your job?
  • 2. How do you keep current in your field?
  • 3. How do you approach your job on a daily basis?

Next, take what you learn and apply it to other people who are doing similar work. You’ll quickly be able to find the differences. Now, you’ll need to determine how to fill those gaps. What are the skills and behaviors that are missing? How can you fill in those missing skills and teach those desired behaviors? Could these people be moved to different jobs that would be more rewarding to them and more profitable to you? Is it time to let them go? Step 2: Get flexible If you think back to famous 1980 movie Nine to Five, Doralee Rhodes (Dolly Parton), Violet Newstead (Lily Tomlin), and Judy Bernly (Jane Fonda) all conspire against Mr. Hart (Dabney Coleman) to make some changes in the office. They implemented job sharing, on-site daycare, work teams, an Employee Assistance Program, and in general, a much more creative workplace. Despite the fact that the movie still has a typing pool and a stenograph machine, there was a lot to be said for the creative thinking around employment situations.

Today, the typewriter is in the Smithsonian and the Internet has revolutionized what can be done in a distributed workplace. Part-time work, at-home work, and new and exciting training programs can all be managed and delivered through the Internet. All anyone really needs is a good telephone, a broadband connection, and a boss who can think outside of the box.

Consider the following:

  • Could this job be done part-time by someone who wants a different type of work arrangement?
  • Could this work be done remotely?
  • Can I get training to this employee via the web?

Think about these scenarios: One of your best employees is about to retire, take time off to raise children, or find a job closer to home so he can spend less time commuting. Would you be better off keeping that employee three days a week by setting them up with a home office or would you be better off letting your competitive advantage walk out the door? Employers are going to have to begin measuring work output vs. time at the office. As long as the work gets done, on time and in an accurate fashion, new thinking needs to take place. Step 3: Educate Hiring Managers Hiring managers need some reality education about the workforce. As a company leader it is incumbent upon you to make sure that the current company leadership understands that people are a competitive advantage. That means that everyone in the company is responsible for finding and developing talent. Hiring managers must understand that when the right person walks through the door they need to grab that talent. They must stop expecting the recruiting team to deliver four more candidates for examination just so the manager has a choice. While they send the recruiter searching, the good ones always find another offer, and you are stuck with number two or worse. Finally, the hiring managers need to understand what their people do and be able to talk about it. They must understand what has made past people successful and they need to find those traits in the people they want to bring on board.

The entire company needs to learn about our four-generation workforce and the amazing strength that it brings to the marketplace. Never before have we had four different generations working side-by-side. While it sounds great, each of those generations needs different things from their jobs and each comes to work with very different expectations. It is important to understand that. I recommend that companies consider education around the generational topic. It should prove to be one of the greatest assets we’ve ever had.

Learn more at Talent Insight Group

(1) Source: “The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings” Psychological Bulletin, Sept 1998, Vol. 124, No. 2, pp 262-274.