Category Archives: Accenture

Are You Planning For Your Future Workforce?

Accenture’s strategy group has published an interesting look at the workforce of the future:  Harnessing Revolution, Creating the future workforce. At an easily consumable 28 pages, it focuses on three primary areas of emphasis for organizations wanting to get a competitive leg up in the hyper competitive talent markets:

  1. Accelerate reskilling people
  2. Redesign work to unlock human potential
  3. Strengthen the talent pipeline from its source

If you’re starting to discuss talent acquisition, development, and retention strategies with your C-Suite, you’re a little late – and this report will be helpful in scoping out the known and unknown challenges barreling down the pike.

The report is full of good news like data presented that show workers being optimistic about the impact that technology will bring to their work life:  “…instead of resenting technology, 84 percent report being excited about the changes it will bring. A full 87 percent are downright optimistic, projecting that it will actually improve their work experience in the next five years.” So that’s some good news we’ve haven’t seen before.

As an advocate for humans and humanity in the workplace, I was especially pleased to see an emphasis in the report on the value that human skills bring to the enterprise:  “our model shows fewer jobs will be lost to automation if people are able to reallocate their skills to tasks that require more ‘human skills’ such as complex analysis and social/emotional intelligence.” The following figure shows that perhaps the gross fears of automation and job eliminations may not be grounded in fact:

The challenge of job loss due to automation is clearly real. But as this report shares, reallocation of skills will significantly decrease job loss. Accenture’s research shows that investments in reskilling the workforce will “dramatically” reduce job loss: “Estimates for Europe show that a one percent increase in training days leads to a three percent increase in productivity, and that overall productivity growth attributable to training is around 16 percent.”

The section on focusing on reskilling people is short and sweet:

  1. Reskill at the top of the house
  2. Keep building on what you have
  3. Change the mindset to “learning as a way of life”
  4. Use digital to learn digital

While, paragraphs 2 – 4 are expected, paragraph 1 is not. Accenture’s research points to a lack of technology skill and experience in the boardroom. And from a leadership perspective, leading in horizontal rather than hierarchical ways will be foundational. Investing in additional skills at the top of the house could make or break your workforce planning outcomes.

There are lots of nuggets in this report. It’s a pretty quick read and the data sources include Accenture, of course, and the likes of the World Economic Forum, Manpower Group, ILO, OECD, Harvard Business Review, Pew Research Center, INSEAD and many others. Citing these sources is one of the reasons I really like the report. This isn’t the usual white paper.

If you’re really getting into the weeds of planning for your future workforce, this is a strong addition to your data sources. Not only is the report useful, but the list of source material could keep you going for weeks.

 

 

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Filed under Accenture, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Demographics, Future of Work, Generations at work, Gig Economy, HR Data, HR Trends, Human Capital, Strategic Workforce Planning, Talent Management, Workforce Demographics, Workforce Planning

What War for Talent?

Data Point TuesdayAccenture’s 2014 College Graduate Employment Survey compares the expectations and perceptions of 2014’s university graduates with the realities of the working world according to both 2012 and 2013 graduates. This comparison casts a focused and specific lens on the issue of entry-level talent development, and gives us some insightful data. Accenture’s survey underlines that at the end of the day, many organizations are not effectively developing their entry-level talent. When we consider that 69% of 2014 graduates state that more training or post-graduate education will be necessary for them to get their desired job, we see that organizations are likely facing a major talent supply problem. New graduates and entry level talent’s perceive that their organizations will provide them with career development training: 80% of 2014 graduates expect that their employer will provide the kind of formal training programs necessary for them to advance their careers. Despite this, the percentage of graduates that actually receive such training is low, creating a significant discrepancy between expectation and reality.Expectation vs Reality

Another concern when it comes to recent college graduates is that 46% (nearly half) of 2012/2013 graduates working today report that they are significantly underemployed (i.e. their jobs do not really depend on their college degrees). This statistic was at only 41% a year ago.Entry Level UnderemployedAccenture’s survey found that 84% of 2014 graduates believe they will find employment in their chosen field post graduation, and 61% expect that job to be full time. Again, we find a stark contrast between expectation and reality, with just 46% of 2012/2013 grads reporting holding a full-time job – 13% percent have been unemployed since graduation. How long do recent graduates stay at the jobs they do have? More than half (56%) of 2012/2013/2014 graduates have already left their first job or expect to be gone within one or two years. Is this be a reflection on the lack of development for entry-level talent? It seems more than plausible…

Recent graduates are also finding discrepancies between expectations and realities when it comes to income and job prospects. Of the 13% of 2012/2013 grads who have been unemployed since graduation, 41% believe their job prospects would have been enhanced had they chosen a different major (72% expect to go back to school within the next five years). Among Accenture’s 2014 survey respondents, 43% expect to earn more than $40,000 at their first job, however, just a minimal 21% of the 2012/2013 graduates that are in the workforce are actually earning at that level. 26% of these graduates report making less that $19,000, a concerning figure when roughly 28% of 2014’s graduates will finish school with debt of more than $30,000.

Accenture’s study does point to some silver linings, however. Increasingly, college students are turning an eye towards what they can do to be more market relevant. 75% of those who graduated this year took into account the availability of jobs in their field before selecting their major, compared to 70% of 2013 graduates and 65% of those in the class of 2012. Another positive is that 72% of 2014 graduates agree or strongly agree that their education prepared them for a career (compared to 66% of 2012/2013 grads) and 78% feel passionately about their area of study. 63% of 2014 graduates stated that their university was effective in helping them find employment opportunities, an increase from 51% among their recently graduated peers. Recent graduates are also increasing their chances of employment by being geographically flexible. 74% of 2014 graduates said they would be willing to relocate to another state to find work and 40% of those would be willing to move 1,000 miles or more to land a job.

Accenture’s study does, however, put into question many of the highly publicized reports that point to human capital/talent acquisition issues as a #1 concern in the C-Suite. If talent is the #1 issues, where is the attention to entry-level talent? Is the attention being placed exclusively on development for upper-level positions? It’s clear that there are multiple factors influencing graduates’ struggles for acceptable employment, including the rise of part-time and contingent work, but training and development is an important part of any entry-level position. The survey points to six areas in which organizations can focus on to help meet talent supply challenges:

  1. Reassess hiring and retention strategies
  2. Hire based on potential, not just immediate qualifications
  3. Use talent development as a hiring differentiator
  4. Remember that tangibles matter, even to Millennials
  5. Cast the net more widely
  6. Use talent development and other benefits as part of a total rewards and attraction approach

These are logical conclusions. But perhaps the biggest logical conclusion is that organizations are just paying lip service to the so-called war for talent and aren’t convinced that the there is, in fact, a shortage of talent. Am I wrong?

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Filed under Accenture, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Human Capital, Millennials, Professional Development, Talent development

The Love Hate Relationship: Technology and Work/Life Balance

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Does technology really help us in our endeavor for work/life balance? This is not a new question, but it remains an open one – if you believe that there is such a thing as work/life balance. I’ve always had a problem with this description and it drives me nuts. The issue is to what degree does work define your life, drive your life, and how do you make choices to live a full life – not a life just filled with work.

But all that aside, my initial response would be that technology aids us in our quest for a balanced life “A LOT” for the idea of working without the convenience of modern technology is certainly painful to contemplate. I would argue, however, that while we all shudder to think of life without remote access, the true relationship between technology and work/life balance may not be as simple as we think. Though helpful, the use of technology provides no automatic guarantee of a more balanced work and personal life, and we would be remiss if we didn’t remind ourselves of this from time to time. I found myself reflecting on this while reading the results of a 2013 global research study conducted by Accenture.

Accenture conducted an online survey to 4,100 business executives from medium to large organizations across 33 countries in order to gain insight on behaviors and attitudes towards women’s careers. One series of results stated “78% of respondents agreed that technology enables them to be more flexible with their schedules.” However, “70% of respondents also agreed that technology brings work into their personal lives.” These two sentiments seem to be in diametric opposition to each other. So what’s the bottom line here? Is technology really helping us balance our work and our personal lives? These results would lead me to argue that I’m not the only one still feeling quite conflicted.

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The ability to have a flexible schedule because of the technology at our finger-tips provides a great resource for better balancing work and our personal lives. However, at the very same time these statistics point out that technology’s influence on flexibility can just as easily undermine our quest for life balance as it can help it. This is valuable information. It informs us that to capture the positive benefits of technology on work/life balance we much be proactive in our use of technology, set boundaries around our use, and be aware of what this use entails. Just as we seek to be informed consumers, we must be informed users, and recognize that for technology to help and not hurt our endeavors for life balance we must set personal boundaries in our use. Perhaps this means asking ourselves some “when, what, where, and why” questions about our use of technology. Or maybe this means creating accountability by telling a family member that we will only check email for a certain amount of time while on vacation. There are many options; it’s just a matter of finding one that works for you.

These diametrically opposing statistics also allow us to question the very definition of work/life “balance”. If technology helps us balance life and work as much as it hurts us balance them, I find myself wondering if there was really much “balancing” going on in the first place? Perhaps it’s antiquated to think of work and our personal lives as two separate things we can place on a scale. Instead we could look to these statistics as a clue that true work/life “balance” is not something we can objectively measure on a scale, but the feeling of “having it all” that comes from leveraging the people, places and things in our lives (like technology) to create a sense of harmony.

We’ve all read the articles; we’ve heard the debates about whether technology hurts us, helps us, is “good” or “bad” and we know that technology and the ensuing ability to work from anywhere has probably left traditional “office walls” gone for good. Ultimately though, the question of whether or not technology helps or hurts our search for life balance can only be answered on an individual basis, and it is our individual use and personal choices that will determine whether or  not technology helps us balance our work and personal lives, or if it tips the proverbial scale.

Tell me in the comments section what your take is on the technology and work/life balance relationship!

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Filed under Accenture, Balance, China Gorman, Workflex

Gen Y’s Self-fulfilling Prophecy

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Accenture recently published its 2013 College Graduate Employment Survey Findings. Lots of great data. Especially if you plan to hire recent college grads. In fact, some of the data are surprising.

One of the important takeaways is that employers have unrealistic expectations for the skills of the hires they make out of college. They think these young people should be able to hit the ground running and are surprised and disappointed when they don’t. And to compound the problem, these employers are not investing in training initiatives to get the newly hired up to speed in the short term or effective in the long term. This is all pretty logical. It’s good data and if you plan on hiring entry level employees from the ranks of the newly graduated, you should read this.

But here’s what caught my attention. It’s about the willingness to commit. And it isn’t the first time I’ve seen data like these.

Young people, entering the economy for the first time, want to commit to their employers. It’s not what we expect, I know. We expect these youngsters to be gone in the career equivalent of sixty seconds. And sometimes they are. But it’s important to know that that isn’t what they want! This isn’t what they expect!

From Accenture:  The class of 2013 is expecting more career longevity from their first jobs:  68% of pending 2013 college grads expect to be at their first job more than 3 years compared to 49% of 2011/2012 college grads.

Accenture career longevity in first jobs 2013

And from the Achievers Class of 2012 white paper:

Achievers Class of 2012 White Paper

In this survey, more than 70% of 2012 college graduates expected to be with their first/next employer 3 years or longer — and 48% expected to be with their first/next employer 5 years or more. Surprising, right? Not what we expect, right? Not what we “know” about Gen Y, right?

But the BLS shows us what happens once they join our organizations:

BLS years of tenure by age

So, young people entering the economy for the first time with a newly minted degree are filled with optimism and have every intention of committing to their first employer for 5 years or more. Is it naivte or is it a real desire to commit, belong and make a difference?

And what happens once they start that first job that impels them out the door in 18 months or less?  Are employers so inept at selection that they really can’t hire employees that will persist? Are young people so naïve that they don’t really know what they’re signing up for and leave when reality doesn’t match expectations? Or, as the Accenture survey suggests, are young people disappointed when expected training and development doesn’t materialize and they leave in search of greater learning opportunities?

Clearly this is a complex issue with lots of dynamics, as the Accenture survey results show. However, if we started with the belief and understanding that young people really do want to engage and commit to their employer, would we be more likely to invest in developing their skills?

If we started with the belief and understanding that young people really do want to engage and commit to their employer, would we create onboarding processes that ensure expectations – on both sides – are being understood and met?

If we started with the belief and understanding that young people really do want to engage and commit to their employer, how would we approach them differently?

I suspect that most employers believe that there’s no return in investing in a talent pool that will be gone in 60 seconds.

I further suspect that the EVP that is sold in the recruiting process doesn’t exactly come to life once the recruit joins the organization.

But I suspect that the real issue is that Gen X and Baby Boomer managers, supervisors and recruiters believe all the negative stereotypes about Gen Y and their lack of commitment to any agendas other than their own — despite multiple data sources that show just the opposite. And we’ve ended up in this tough reality that has become a full-fledged self-fulfilling prophecy.

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Filed under Accenture, Achievers, Baby Boomers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Value Proposition, Gen Y, GenX, HR Data, Turnover, U.S. Department of Labor