Category Archives: Leadership Challenges

The 2020 Workforce: Misconceptions Between Management and Employees

data point tuesday

Oxford Economics and SAP recently released the report “Workforce 2020: The Looming Talent Crisis” aimed at understanding the opportunities and challenges of the evolving workforce. The research is based on survey responses from over 2,700 executives and more than 2,700 employees in 27 countries. Understanding the core characteristics of “the new face of work,” as SAP puts it, is an important step in recognizing the opportunities and challenges that will come with it. SAP and Oxford Economics’ research identifies several key characteristics of the 2020 workforce, including that it will be an increasingly flexible one. Of executives surveyed, 83% cited that they plan to increase use of contingent, intermittent, or consultant employees in the next three years and 58% say that this requires changing HR policy. In addition to being flexible, the 2020 workforce will be increasingly diverse, and SAP advises that because of this HR leaders will need to become more evidence-based to deal with these realities. As of now, only 50% of HR departments state that they use quantifiable metrics and benchmarking in workforce development and only 47% say they know how to extract meaningful insights from the data available to them. This is likely part of what influences the reported lack of progress towards meeting workforce goals that many executives cite. Just 33% stated that they have made “good” or “significant” progress towards workforce goals.

SAP identifies technology as a key need for the evolving workforce that organizations are unprepared for. While this may seem obvious, in the U.S. just 39% of employees report getting ample training on workplace technology and only 27% report access to the latest technology. While it’s understandable that not all organizations can offer the most cutting edge technologies, a lack of sufficient training for the technologies that are in place could be seriously affecting employee productivity. Aside from technology, misconceptions about Millennials are another trend of the evolving workforce that SAP points out (and with the expectation that this generation will make up more than 50% of the workforce by 2020, any misconceptions are noteworthy). The research points out that while Millennials are different than other generations, they may not be as different as they are typically portrayed. According to executives surveyed, 60% believe Millennials are frustrated with manager quality but only 18% of Millennials say that they actually are. Additionally, 62% of executives report that Millennials will consider leaving their job due to a lack of learning and development, but just 31% of Millennials say they have considered this.

millenial-misconception

In terms of the emerging workforce, there may also be gaps between what companies believe employees want from them and what employees actually want.

what-employees-say
Perhaps not surprisingly, the most important incentive to U.S employees is competitive compensation (84%) followed by retirement plans (75%), and vacation time (62%). 39% of employees say higher compensation would increase loyalty and engagement with their current job. When it comes to attributes that employees think are most important to their employer, job performance and results is number one (46%), followed by the ability to learn and be trained quickly (29%), and loyalty and long-term commitment to the company (28%). This differs however, from what employers deem most important. The top three attributes executives want in employees are a high level of education and/or institutional training (33%), loyalty and long-term commitment 32%), and the ability to learn and be trained quickly (31%).

What executives and employees do agree on is that organizations are not focused enough on developing future leaders. Only 51% of U.S. executives say their company plans for succession and continuity in key roles and 47% say their plans for growth are being hampered by lack of access to the right leaders. Employees agree that leadership is a problem area, with just 51% of employees stating that leadership at their company is equipped to lead the company to success. Better learning and education opportunities will be key to bridging this talent gap. The need for technology skills in particular will increase in demand (e.g. cloud and analytics), although SAP’s data states that just 33% of employees expect to be proficient in cloud in three years. This statistic is slightly better when it comes to analytics, with 43% expecting proficiency in three years and almost 50% expecting proficiency in mobile, social media, and social collaboration. In terms of training programs, only about half (51%) of American executives say their company widely offers supplemental training programs to develop new skills. This aligns with employees’ perceptions toward training, with 51% reporting that their company provides the right tools to help them grow and improve job performance. Additionally, about half (52%) of employees say their company encourages continuing education and training to further career development.

Take a look at the graphic below that highlights the five major labor market shifts discussed. Are you beginning to think about shifting workforce development strategies for the future? Are you really sure what your employees think? Or are you making assumptions based on popular press reports that may not be founded on fact?

labor-market-shifts

1 Comment

Filed under #HRTechTrends, 100 Best Companies to Work For, Leadership Aspiration, Leadership Challenges, Learning/Development, Millennials, Recruiting, Recruiting Technology, SAP

Leadership Challenges, Critical Skills and the Importance of Gender Diversity

Data Point Tuesday
Development Dimensions International (DDI)
and The Conference Board have recently released a report, “Global Leadership Forecast 2014|2015.” This report, the seventh of its kind published by DDI, includes survey responses from 13,124 leaders, 1,528 global human resource executives, and 2,031 participating organizations. The volume of respondents allowed DDI to look at findings from a variety of perspectives – multinational vs. local corporations, spans four leadership levels and leaders/HR professionals of different genders, ages, 48 countries, and 32 major industry categories. The report is comprehensive and contains more than one blog post’s worth of data and insight, so I’ll just pull a few of the highlights here… But if you find the data interesting make sure to take a look at the full report for more information!

Let’s start by looking at top challenges of leadership cited in the report. According to the research, the top four CEO challenges are Human Capital, Customer Relations, Innovation, and Operational Excellence. When responding CEOs were asked to identify strategies to address the human capital challenge, four of the top strategies cited included a focus on leadership:

  • improve leadership development programs,
  • enhance the effectiveness of senior management teams,
  • improve the effectiveness of frontline supervisors and managers, and
  • improve succession planning

Though the top three cited strategies for combating the human capital challenge were to: provide employee training and development, raise employee engagement, and improve performance management processes and accountability, the fact that a focus on leadership was present among the top 10 strategies suggests that leaders recognize that organizations cannot develop and retain highly engaged, productive employees without effective leadership and leadership development programs.

Top CEO ChallengesCEOs surveyed also identified the leadership attributes and behaviors they perceived as most critical to success as a leader:

  • retain and develop talent
  • manage complexity
  • lead change
  • lead with integrity, and
  • have an entrepreneurial mind-set.

Unfortunately, no more than 50% of leaders assessed their own readiness to address such tasks as “very prepared.” And HR leaders’ perceptions were even more grim, with only 9% indicating their leaders were “very ready” to address the human capital challenge.

When HR professionals were asked to rank two critical leader skills for leaders’ success in the next three years, and how much their organization’s current development programs focuses on them, the level of focus of most skills corresponded to how critical the skills were perceived to be for the future. However, there were some interesting exceptions:

Critical SkillsAs you can see in the above graphic, two skills that were listed by HR as most critical (fostering employee creativity and innovation/leading across countries and cultures) are not actually being focused on, while building consensus and commitment/communicating and interacting with others are two skills not listed by HR as highly critical to the future yet are being heavily focused on. DDI informs us that because these are foundational skills it’s easy for HR to either overemphasize or undervalue them, which supports the data we see in the graphic.

While DDI and The Conference Board’s report is chock full of fascinating data like those mentioned above, it has been getting wide attention for a particular section of the report: the section on gender diversity. The report indicates that organizations with better financial performance have more women in leadership roles. Organizations in the top 20% for financial performance report 37% of all leaders are women vs. organizations in the bottom 20%, which report that only 19% of all leaders are women.

Women in LeadershipWhile this clearly points to the positive benefits of gender diversity, at the same time, it highlights how disturbingly imbalanced the gender demographics still are when it comes to leadership. DDI’s survey explains this imbalance in several ways. There was no significant difference between the men and women in the study when it came to leadership skills or ability to handle management and business challenges, however, a noted difference between sexes were their levels of confidence. Women were less likely than men to rate themselves as effective leaders, as having completed international assignments, lead across geographies or countries, or lead geographically dispersed teams. The study cites these global or more visible leadership experiences as key missed opportunities, because leaders who had access to these experiences were far more likely to be promoted and to advance more quickly in their organizations.

Gender DifferencesThe bottom line is that this data supports what we know about diversity in its entirety: fostering and encouraging diversity in the workplace is always something to strive for as it inherently leads to more diversity of ideas, problem solving, productivity and financial success!

2 Comments

Filed under China Gorman, Critical Skills, Data Point Tuesday, Development Dimensions International, Gender Diversity, HR, HR Data, Human Resources, Leadership, Leadership Challenges, The Conference Board, Workplace Studies