Category Archives: Human Capital

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

HR: How Disconnected Are You From Employees?

ADP recently released a report which, based on data they’ve collected from several studies, examines the causes and implications of a persistent disconnect recorded between HR’s and employees’ perceptions. The topic is an interesting one: despite the vast improvement in and efficiency of communications tools and processes that we’ve witnessed over the years, employees and HR departments have seemed to maintain notably differing perceptions on many key human capital management effectiveness issues. This disparity holds true globally, and in companies of all sizes. ADP has noted this trend in three of their ADP Research Institute® global studies in 2013: Quantifying Great Human Capital Management, Employee Perspectives on Human Capital Management, and HR 360. All three studies measured perceptions of status and value of the HR function and showed consequential differences between employees and HR in key areas such as how well employees were being managed, how well questions regarding HR and benefits issues were addressed, whether feedback was communicated or even collected, and in performance evaluations. Data indicate that similar gaps in perception exist between HR and senior management on these same topics, and as ADP points out, these differences matter because they may be indicative of larger problems within organizations – such as whether investments in HR technology are actually delivering the results of more effective communication, or whether advantages of a strategic HR function are being actively sought and realized.

ADP’s research studies show that globally, employees have much more negative perceptions of how well their organizations are managing them than the perceptions of their senior executives and HR leaders. This disparity is notable in such areas as compensation, work/life balance, career opportunities, and the effectiveness of senior leadership. The data also show that the larger the organization, the greater likelihood that employees’ perceptions of how well the organization is managed will decline.how well companies manage employees

differing perceptionsSenior executives and HR leaders are also significantly more satisfied than employees with the processes they have in place for getting employees’ answers to their questions regarding HR/benefits. Globally, this disparity is greatest in the Asia-Pacific region and in the United States. In the U.S. 79% of HR leaders report that it is Extremely/Very Easy to get HR/benefits questions answered, compared to only 56% of employees. Continuing the gap in perceptions is that, when employees’ questions are answered, HR leaders and senior executives perceive that employees are far more satisfied with the process they’ve gone through to get questions answered than employees actually are.

Such differences in perception bring to light a number of potential challenges. How do organizations know they’ve secured the advantages of providing benefits if HR is more fully convinced of employees’ satisfaction than employees themselves? Additionally, if HR thinks that their processes for answering questions are more effective than they actually are, are employees even aware of all their benefit options? This becomes especially disconcerting if organizations are counting on their benefits as a way to attract and retain talent. Interestingly, more than half of employees in large U.S. companies stated that an employee portal is an important informational resource, while less than one-third of their HR leaders shared that conclusion. The options primarily cited by HR leaders for employees to get answers to their questions included an in-office HR team, a dedicated HR representative, and the employees’ managers. Employees’ responses however, cited an 800 number or internal company portal as the most important resources for getting answers.

Note too, that among respondents who felt that it was extremely or very easy to have their HR questions answered, less than 1/5 reported they would be likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months; but among respondents who said it is not easy to have their HR questions answered, that number almost doubled to more than 25%. Lastly, another key area to note where disconnect occurs is between employers and employees perceptions of their organizations talent management processes:talent management disconnect

For more on information on the disconnect between employees and human capital management, make sure to check out ADP’s full report, “Human Capital Management’s Employee Disconnect. A Global Snapshot.”

And perhaps it’s time to begin questioning whether the data you are reviewing regarding your organization’s HR effectiveness is actually true.

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Filed under ADP, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, HR, Human Capital, Workplace Studies

Longing for Leadership

Data Point Tuesday
Last week I discussed one of the trends (reskilling HR teams) called out in Deloitte’s annual Global Human Capital Trends Report for 2014. Recently released and influenced by the work of Bersin by Deloitte, the report examines 12 trends that represent the way employees today are driving their organizations to innovate and transform human capital practices. The report, as usual, is full of interesting data on human capital management trends and observations about the impact of those trends. It is definitely worth a read.

This week I’d like to look at another top talent issue facing organizations around the world as identified by Deloitte: leadership. Leadership is cited as the number one talent issue organizations today face, with 86% of respondents surveyed citing leadership as “urgent” or “important”. This is compared with a meager 13% of the same respondents that claim they are doing an excellent job developing leaders at all levels. So of all the trends discussed in Deloitte’s survey, this marks the largest “readiness gap”. Developing the next generation of leaders is urgent, yet very few report meeting the challenge.

When it comes to organizational strategies, most are requiring some significant tweaks due to the increasingly global, tech-savvy, interconnected, and diverse people that are the 21st century workforce, and leadership development is not exempt from this. Organizations are facing challenges such as developing multiple generations of leaders – not just Millennials, developing leaders with high flexibility and global fluency, and ensuring that leaders have the skills to understand and adapt to rapidly changing technologies. Essentially, leadership is taking on a much broader meaning than it did previously, where it may have described simply developing the next CEO or company C-Suite executive.

Looking at responses from executives who participated in Deloitte’s survey paints a clear picture of perceived leadership gaps. 66% reported believing that they are “weak” in their ability to develop Millennial leaders and just 5% rated themselves as “excellent”. Additionally, 51% of executives have little confidence in their ability to maintain clear, consistent, succession programs and just 8% feel they have “excellent” programs to build global skills.

Global Human Capital Trends Report for 2014It becomes clear then that as the global recovery continues to strengthen and organizations start to execute on growth strategies, that these gaps can only be filled by intentional focus and commitment to leadership development and training programs at all levels. Deloitte’s report suggests that companies should start by engaging their own top executives to develop leadership strategies and actively participate in them; refresh previous leadership strategies to link with evolving business goals; and implement a unique leadership program. They recommend that organizations focus on three aspects for developing leaders: developing at all levels, developing global leaders locally, and developing a succession mindset.

If companies want to grow in a global world, they need to grow global leaders. And Deloitte’s research shows clearly that this doesn’t happen accidentally.

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Filed under Bersin, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Deloitte, HR, HR Data, Human Capital, Leadership

Business Leaders Don’t Think HR is Up to Snuff

Data Point Tuesday

Deloitte’s annual Global Human Capital Trends Report for 2014 is out. Influenced by the work of Bersin by Deloitte, it examines 12 trends that represent the way employees today are driving their organizations to innovate and transform human capital practices. The report, “Global Human Capital Trends 2014: Engaging the 21st Century Worker” surveyed 2,532 business and HR leaders in 94 countries around the world over several months, also drawing upon past research on global business challenges in HR, leadership, and talent management. The result of the report is a wealth of data on human capital strategies in the 21st century workplace that can be examined for perspective and insight into our own organizations and strategies. The year’s 12 critical human capital trends were categorized into three broad categories. “Transform and Reinvent” examines the need to reskill HR teams, capitalize on cloud based HR tech, implement HR analytics as a means to achieving business goals, and create a global HR platform that is robust and flexible enough to adapt to local needs.

So. Reskilling HR teams. Really? Why is this a critical trend? According to the report, less than 8% of HR leaders have confidence that their teams have the skills needed to meet the challenge of today’s global environment and consistently deliver innovative programs that drive business impact. Business leaders unfortunately corroborate this statistic, with 42% believing that their HR teams are “underperforming” or “just getting by”. This is compared to the 27% of business professionals who rate HR as excellent or good when assessing HR and talent programs. At a time when CEO’s are reporting human capital strategies as one of the top priorities for growth, it’s important that HR departments have the skills necessary to acquire, develop, and retain top talent as well as engage employees at all levels. And with a workforce that is increasingly global, tech-savvy, highly connected and demanding, HR departments face the challenge of doing all of this with increasingly creative strategies that meet the needs of this 21st century workforce. While such skills are highly necessary, the statistics indicate that HR departments are not as equipped with them as organizations would like.

Of further interest, Deloitte’s report discusses how many organizations are reporting seeing a “disruption” of the CHRO role in their organizations. This disruption consists of a refocusing HR as a “business contribution” function with deeper skills in data/analytics as well as MBA-level business capabilities. When it comes to organizations’ readiness to respond to the 12 global human capital trends there is a discrepancy between business professionals’ and HR professionals’ perceptions. For the five most urgent trends identified (leadership, reskilling HR, global HR and talent management, retention and engagement, and talent and HR analytics) business executives report that their companies are less ready to address these issues than HR leaders report. For the issue of reskilling HR, 48% of business respondents reported that HR is “not ready,” compared to 36% of HR respondents.

Deloitte’s report links this perceived lack of HR skills to some basic attributes such as the fact that many organizations do not invest in developing the business skills of their HR teams and to the fact that more than 70 percent of all HR professionals enter the field without a specific degree or certification in business or human resources. Of respondents surveyed from Deloitte’s report, 43% stated that their companies are “weak” when it comes to providing HR with appropriate training and experiences.

While disappointing, data like this are great because they clearly identify perceived areas of weakness and allow organizations to challenge their own programs and strategies for HR, as well as draw conclusions more specific to their organization and strategies for transforming, reinventing, and reskilling the HR team.

The bad news? Business leaders think HR isn’t up to the people challenges of the 21st century. The good news? Now we know and can get to work!

Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2014

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Filed under Bersin, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Deloitte, HR, Human Capital

Empowering Business Leaders as Talent Leaders

Data Point Tuesday
A new research brief by Aberdeen Group looking at Human Capital Management trends for 2014 highlights that talent acquisition, specifically the scarcity of talent available in the external marketplace, is the biggest driver of HCM strategy today. In 2013 we saw a lot of discussion around talent acquisition (in another report by Aberdeen shortages of key skills were cited as a top challenge by 64% of respondents, up 55% from 2011) and as the economy continues to recover in 2014 it appears this trend will continue. What are organizations doing to combat this? According to the report, the most commonly cited strategy by respondents involved developing front-line business leaders as talent leaders to create a vital connection between talent strategy and business execution. The reasoning plays out in a connect-the-dots, A to B, the knee-bone’s connected to the hip-bone, fashion. If employees with the greatest ability to see both business needs and the skills/capabilities of the talent on the ground (front-line leaders) are empowered as talent leaders, it ensures communication between HR and business leaders around talent initiatives and increases the chance of identifying gaps in business strategy.

There’s data to back up this strategy. A study conducted by Aberdeen last year found that top-performing organizations were 73% more likely than all other organizations to have dedicated learning programs for front-line leaders and committed 40% more of their training time to leadership skills. As the brief points out though, for the strategy to succeed it is important front-line leaders are given the necessary support and tools to handle talent processes as well as day-to-day business goals. Technology and automated performance tools provide a plausible solution to this concern, offering greater efficiency to workforce processes. Currently, 56% of organizations report that line of business leaders are accountable for talent management initiatives such as hiring, developing, and performance management within their teams. As you can see in the below graphic, this accountability pays off, increasing businesses likelihood of having employee development plans in place, offering a higher number of employees that exceed performance expectations, and seeing greater retention of high performers (which is especially important at a time when talent scarcity is a top concern).

Accountability Yields Talent Results

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Filed under Aberdeen Group, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Human Capital, Talent Acquisition

Is Talentism the New Capitalism?

data point tuesday_500

“Is talentism the new capitalism?”

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, thinks so and said as much as he opened this year’s event in Davos.

Mercer chose this quote to open the executive summary of its new report, Talent Rising:  High-impact Accelerators to Global Growth. It includes some great survey data from more than 1,250 HR and talent management executives in 65 countries around the world. It includes important and useful data about how organizations are or are not expanding their definition of capital to include talent.

Forever, it seems, organizations’ primary sources of value and competitive advantage have been financial in nature:  money, lands, buildings and machines – all the values carried on the balance sheet. Mercer’s observation that with human capital being the main determinant of success today, it is troubling that so many organizations leave the development of their talent “largely to external systems and forces, with resulting gaps in their talent portfolios.”

(One could also position that if, indeed, human capital is the main determinant of organization success today, then there should be an entry on the balance sheet to capture its importance. But that’s for another day.)

This report is a huge call to action – not just for HR, but for the entire C-suite. And it is a great roadmap for HR to initiate the discussion of talent as capital.

Central to this discussion is the definition of strategic workforce planning. We hear about this all the time in HR. And BCG, funded by the World Federation of Personnel Management Associations together with SHRM, has observed that there is low current capability worldwide in strategic workforce planning. Perhaps that’s because we know it when we see it, but we can’t really define it.

Mercer’s done a great job of defining strategic workforce planning and published a great infographic along with the Talent Rising executive summary.

Mercer Strategic Workforce Planning Infographic

This 7 step virtuous circle seems simple enough, but I think we all know that sometimes the most simple things are the hardest to achieve. And that certainly would be true for strategic workforce planning. Identifying accelerators on which to focus might help organizations begin to break the process down into manageable chunks.  Just knowing where to begin will undoubtedly help some make progress.

“Talentism is the new capitalism.” Well, maybe in 5-10 years. When HR is seen as a business function and not an overhead function.  And human capital is valued on the balance sheet.

We can dream, can’t we?

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Filed under Boston Consulting Group, C-suite, CEOs, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, HR Credibility, Human Capital, Mercer, SHRM, Strategic Workforce Planning, Talentism, World Economic Forum