The Future of Work, a new report from the SHRM Foundation, is a quick study on, well, the future of work.
Everyone talks about the future of work like it’s the next scary thing coming for us after the zombies have left. And that may be true (well, not the zombie part), so this short report can help you frame what you should be concerned about.
Working with the Economist Intelligence Unit, the SHRM Foundation identified 5 trends that their research shows are impacting the world of work:
- Demographic shifts
- Loss of middle-skilled jobs
- Skills gap: disconnect between educational standards and organizational demand
- Eroding physical barriers and increased globalization
- New models of work: crowdsourcing
Taken individually, none of these trends are surprising, right? But taken together, they create a set of concerns that keep most C-suite leaders, as well as their HR colleagues, up at night.
I believe that the most impactful of the five trends is number 3: the skills gap. The growing disconnect between employer skills needs and output from the global education system is already impacting small, medium, and large employers everywhere in the world. The other four trends just make things even more challenging.
Take a look at the report. It’s a quick read and will put the whole “future of work” discussion into a helpful context.
I’m a big fan of the SHRM Foundation. The resources they put in the hands of HR professionals all over the world are impressive. They do this by funding academic research in areas of interest to HR and business leaders, they provide scholarships for HR professionals to further their professional development and credentials, and they partner with organizations like The Economist Intelligence Unit to provide deep dives into the most pressing people issues of the day. I like that. A lot.
While attending the SHRM Foundation’s most recent Thought Leader Retreat in the fall, I picked up this nifty piece of thought leadership from 2014: What’s Next: Future global Trends Affecting Your Organization; Evolution of Work and the Worker. Published in partnership with The Economist Intelligence Unit, this report discusses the outcomes of “a rigorous process of surveys, expert-panel discussions and analysis” to identify key themes that look at What’s Next in the evolution of work and the worker.
The executive summary lists nine key findings – some are just what you’d expect in considering how work is changing and how the role of workers is changing. Some, however, might be surprising to you:
Demographic shifts post conflicting challenges
Young populations neither in education nor employment will elevate concerns of a lost generation and the potential for social and political unrest in the near future
Burgeoning workplace diversity requires sophisticated managerial response
Disconnect between educational standards and organizational demand
Services sector on the rise globally at the expense of agriculture and industry
Technology transforms workforce composition and culture
Wage expectations conflict with increased focus on shareholder value
Inequality on the rise as technology decimates the mid-skilled tier
Companies balance pros and cons of investment in new regions of development
The discussions in this 48 page report are fascinating and cover a lot of ground. Each topic has graphs from a multitude of sources – if you just read the graphs you’d start to develop a new awareness of the global challenges we face in providing sustainable people strategies for our organizations. This one tells a pretty interesting story:
Another one that takes an interesting look at global competitiveness – and perhaps an outcome of the chart above – is here:
I encourage you to pull down this report. It’s a little more than a year old, but it highlights the global issues with which organizations are grappling. HR professionals need to have meta data like this top of mind. Whether you’re leading HR in a one-location organization, or an HR team member in a large, global organization – work is changing. And workers are really changing. And some of the reasons they are changing have to do with what’s happening in other places in the world. It’s not enough any more to only know what the trend data are for your pocket of the world. We – especially HR professionals – need to understand all the levers that are pushing on our people, our industry and our work. This report could assist in developing a broader understanding of why this is important.
Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Demographics, Economist Intelligence Unit, Effective Practice Guidelines, Employment Data, Global Human Capital, HR Data, Human Resources, SHRM Foundation, Uncategorized
A recent study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by SAP and SuccessFactors, explores the challenges of managing an increasingly diverse workforce while highlighting the importance of diversity as a strategic business advantage. The global study, Values-based Divesity, surveyed 228 executives responsible for designing and developing their organization’s human resources strategy, where 53% of respondents were very senior – either CEO’s or board members. As the study explains, many diversity initiatives in the last two decades involved a focus on demographic factors, such as gender and race, or “inherent” diversity. Today there is a wider awareness that the diversity focus should also consider values like cultural fluency, global mindset, language skills etc., or “acquired’ diversity. This shifting awareness, represented in EIU’s survey results, appears to represent a wider shift in organizational perception of diversity.
When respondents were asked about the primary benefits of a diverse workforce 83% of executives reported that a diverse workforce improves their firm’s ability to capture and retain a diverse client base; 82% agreed that a strategic approach to managing diversity can help access a rich talent pool; and 80% viewed diversity management as yielding a competitive advantage in labor markets. While the case for diversity has changed over the years, from a social initiative (it’s the right thing to do) to a strategic argument for supporting and creating new innovation, the bottom line remains the same – it’s always been about business success and competitive market advantage. With the increasingly diverse and multigenerational workforce that exists today however, certain organizational strategies will require greater adjustment. According to the EIU study, the top workforce characteristic that will require the greatest change in HR strategies over the next three years (cited by 57% of executives) was a “lack of interest in assimilating organizational values” followed by “conflicting values of a multi-generational workforce” (51%) and thirdly “educational differences among employees” (50%).
Given the strategic benefits of a diverse talent pool cited by executives, what strategies are organizations using to support and engage diverse talent? The top four strategies listed by respondents focused almost exclusively on learning and development: “mentoring of new and high potential employees”, “exposing high potential employees to diverse business situations”, “opportunities for international careers”, and “opportunities for diverse teams to address strategic business challenges”. When asked about the technologies used to manage diverse workforces, 35% of respondents cited human resources information systems (HRIS) as the highest adopted technology, followed by e-learning systems at 31%, and videoconferencing at 25%. Interestingly given the amount of hype and energy around social media, the adoption of enterprise social networks as a means to manage a diverse workforce was low, with only 20% of respondents reporting this as an adopted tool.
The data from this report clearly indicates that executives recognize the importance and benefits of having a diverse workforce, but also recognize that maximizing the potential of a diverse talent pool requires a strategic approach. Whether this approach means augmenting previous diversity initiatives, or developing new strategies altogether, approaches will likely be specific to each organization and the level of understanding and commitment by its leaders. The information does suggest that this will be an area of focus for many organizations now and into the future as the workforce becomes more globally mobile, multi-generational and flexible.
The Aberdeen Group just published a fascinating report, The Rules of Employee Engagement: Communicating, Collaborating and Aligning with the Business, that looks at what best-in-class organizations are doing about engagement and why they’re doing it. Author Madeline Laurano takes a pretty deep dive into the subject and her analysis reveals some pretty intriguing conclusions. What hooked me from the start were the three metrics for performance criteria to distinguish best-in-class companies for employee engagement:
- 71% of employees exceeded performance expectations, compared to 14% of Laggard organizations
- 85% of 1st choice candidates accepted an offer, compared to 8% of Laggards
- 72% of employees rated themselves highly engaged, compared to 9% of employees of Laggard organizations
Most of the statistics we see about the value of engagement focus on tying engagement scores to financial outcomes. No question: we need that. Data about the outcomes of engagement are helpful in building business cases for investing in the employee experience.
But tying other types of outcomes to higher engagement scores can also be helpful – like the number of 1st choice candidates accepting employment offers. If a talent shortage truly is the number 1 concern of CEOs and their boards around the world, as the latest Lloyd’s Risk Survey suggests, then strategies that effectively raise the likelihood of securing the top talent you go after should be of interest. And it makes sense that A+ talent likes to affiliate with other A+ talent.
And connecting the dots between engagement outcomes and high levels of individual employee performance also makes sense. I’ve long wondered at the value of trumpeting the engagement scores of every employee — when we all know that it’s the most effective employees’ opinions we care most about. Linking employee performance and engagement scores makes a great deal of sense to me.
Take a look at the report. I think you’ll find the data extremely useful.
I recently came across a fascinating report published by Lloyd’s, the world’s leading market for specialist insurance. Lloyd’s Risk Index is based on a survey of global business leaders by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and Lloyd’s. It’s the second of its kind, the first having been published in 2009. The survey is global and breathtaking in its scope. It measures the top 50 Priority Risk factors for business – as identified by business leaders – as well as measuring how prepared businesses are to face these identified risks.
The headline for this survey is that business has gone from identifying credit as one of the biggest business risks in 2009 to focusing on talent as one of the biggest risks in 2011 and beyond.
As I read the report (see it here), I am struck that in the top 50 individual risks, as many as 12 have to do with people: talent shortages, impact of regulation, demographic shifts, population growth, industrial/workplace accidents, changing legislation and others.
The respondent profiles are from more than 500 C-Suite executives (although it doesn’t look like CHROs were included) from large global enterprises. The survey rated their attitudes regarding risk and their preparedness to face risks across five key categories:
- Business and strategic risk
- Economic regulatory and market risk
- Political, crime and security risk
- Environmental and health risk
- Natural hazard risk
As the report explains, anything high on an executive’s risk priority list can be considered in terms of a potential critical point of failure of business. So we’re talking big risks here. Identified by board members and C-Suite executives in the largest global businesses in the world.
So of all 50 identified risks, guess what made the number two spot? Talent and Skills Shortages (Including Succession Risk). Woah. Here’s what it looks like:
Talent and Skills Shortages — Priority and Preparedness by Region
The big headline for me is that more than 500 of the business leaders of largest businesses in the world agree that that the talent shortage is real. That it’s big. And it’s global. And it threatens every business.
The second big headline is that this evaluation is being made by business leaders who do not identify themselves as HR Executives. And that’s big. If the board members and C-Suite executives of the largest enterprises in the world believe that the second biggest risk to their success is the looming talent shortage, then HR better be prepared with solutions for critical talent acquisition, retention and development. And they better be prepared today.