Category Archives: Talent Management

Certificates: the New Associate’s Degree?

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce has published a new report:  Certificates: Gateway to Gainful Employment and College Degrees. I’m a big fan of a previous report from these authors, Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018 and wrote about it here.

This new report gives a clear look under the hood of one of the staples of our post-secondary education infrastructure: the certificate.

Take a look. It’s not a hard read.

Uniquely American, certificates are widely varied in their positive impacts and largely ignored by private, public and government socioeconomic surveyors. The study’s authors contend that if certificates “with a demonstrated labor market value” were counted in official post-secondary surveys as “credentials” they would improve the U.S.’s post-secondary completion position from 15th to 10th among industrialized nations (OECD countries).

And 1 million certificates were awarded in 2010 – up from 300,000 in 1994.

Interesting data from the report include:

  • Certificates are the fastest growing form of post-secondary credentials in the U.S. increasing from 6% in 1980 to 22% today
  • 20% of certificate holders go on to get two-year degrees
  • 13% of certificate holders go on to complete four-year degrees
  • Workers with certificates earn an average 20% more than workers with just high school degrees

As talent management and HR professionals continue to struggle to find “qualified” workers to fill their openings, perhaps a new look at the experience and credentials they require might open a large segment of fully qualified workers – those with certificates instead of college degrees.

Something to think about.

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Filed under Career Planning, Certificates, China Gorman, Demographics, Education Deficit, Employment Data, Post-secondary education, Talent Management, Talent pipeline, Unemployment

Maximizing Your Conference Investment

This is an updated post from August 2010.

The 2012 SHRM Annual Conference is just around the corner.  Word has it that there will be many first-timers in attendance.  This is for them — and for other attendees who want to be sure they maximize the financial and time investments they’re making.  Here are three proven strategies for making sure you get your money’s worth.

Sessions

Conferences generally have 3 types of content sessions:

  1. General Sessions:  these are sessions that are intended for the full complement of attendees.  The speakers are typically big names in the industry who speak on universal topics relevant to the conference theme or they are big celebrity names meant to draw your attendance to the conference.  SHRM does both — and usually always has a movie star or TV personality on the big stage.  Big names sell tickets, folks.  Think of them as the motivational part of the conference.
  2. Concurrent Sessions:  these are the main content tracks that are scheduled throughout the conference.  Each time slot will hold multiple options for your consideration.  Designed for smaller subsets of the conference attendees, these tend to be led by consultants, academics and a few practitioners and are focused content of a practical nature.  Think of them as the skill building part of the conference experience.
  3. Sponsor Highlights:  these are sessions that feature a sponsor or exhibitor’s product or service, are marketing-focused in nature, and come as part of their sponsorship/exhibitor fee.  SHRM doesn’t do this very often — but the exhibitors frequently hold mini-sessions in their booth space in the expo hall.  Don’t dismiss them.  You can get great information about what’s new and cutting edge as well as scope out potential new partners.  (I’ll be conducting mini sessions in the Achievers booth on Sunday and Monday.  Come over and say “hi.”)

In a typical two-and-a-half- or three-day conference, it’s important to select wisely the sessions you want to attend – and in advance.  But it’s also important not to over-schedule yourself (more on that later). I recommend attending all the General Sessions.  The big names generally have value and the celebrity speakers are usually engaging, entertaining and motivating.  Then attend concurrent sessions in about 60-75% of the time slots.

Save Time For Networking

One of the particular values of attending a conference in person (as opposed to an online conference or a series of webinars) is the opportunity to meet other like minded people.  Look at the list of presenters.  Look at the list of sponsors/exhibitors.  Find out who else will be attending.  Then target 4-8 people that you’d really like to meet and talk with – and find them at the conference.  Leaving time in your session schedule to set short appointments when you find people on your target list will allow you to be thoughtful in creating new relationships.  Don’t pass up the opportunity to learn from industry pros – who, by the way, also want to network and meet people just like you!

You know how to network, right?  You prepare for these opportunities in advance by identifying what you’d like to talk about with each target and prepare 2 or 3 questions to get the conversation rolling.  You can ask everyone the same questions, or you can customize your approach to each person.  Your confidence will be strong as you introduce yourself to these folks and you’ll be surprised how amenable perfect strangers are to meet and talk with you.

If you aren’t on Twitter or FaceBook, now would be a good time to start accounts.  Many of the people you want to meet are using social media to connect with new and old friends.  I’ll be there.  Connect with me.  On Twitter I’m @ChinaGorman and it’s easy to friend me on FaceBook.  Just mention #SHRM12 in the invitation and I’ll accept.  Social media will be prevalent in Atlanta.

Nothing is More Attractive Than a Smile

As you walk the conference halls and expo aisles, make sure your demeanor and body language is open.  And smile.  Intentionally.  You’ll appear open, friendly, not intimidating or intimidated.  Really, there’s nothing more attractive than a smiling face.  And there’s nothing that builds your confidence to approach strangers than acting open and welcoming.

Attending a conference and getting your money’s worth isn’t hard.  But it takes some forethought and planning.  Both you and your organization want to realize the investment it took to get there.  Make sure you get the full value of the experience.

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Filed under Achievers, China Gorman, Conferences, HR, HR Conferences, SHRM, SHRM Foundation, Talent Management

What’s your budget?

Great sources of free and relevant talent management data are vendor research, white papers and blogs. Of course, vendors have a bias towards research and conclusions that support their cause, but that doesn’t make the research less interesting or actionable. It just means that the reader has to understand the context.

I read an interesting article in the May issue of Talent Management that referenced a survey done by Cornerstone OnDemand and Harris Interactive on performance management.  I traced the survey results back to a post on the CSOD blog by Charles Coy.  The survey data about the effectiveness of legacy performance management systems is interesting and not at all surprising.  They don’t work and everyone knows it – employees and HR.

What was more interesting to me were the math and sources behind the potential price tag of $2 Ttrillion to U.S. employers in 2012 simply due to voluntary turnover.  That’s right: $2 Trillion!

$2 Trillion is a big number.  A very big number.  Could it be true?  If we take the stats one by one, it absolutely could be true.  Take a look:

Here’s the equation where E = total employees and AW = their average wage (divide total salary cost by the number of FTEs):

(E x .15) x (AW x 2.5) = Total Turnover Cost

Try the math in your organization.  If you have 350 employees and the average wage is $50,000 then

  • 350 x .15 =                                             52
  • Average wage =                                $  50,000.00
  • Average full replacement cost =   $ 125,000.00

52 x $125,000 = $6,500,000.00

And what’s your budget? 

But, you say, your voluntary turnover is only 8%, not 15%.  Well, even if that’s true – and congratulations if it is – that’s still a lot of money.

28 x $125,000.00 = $3,500,000.00

And what’s your budget?

But, you say, that 2.5 times the average wage calculation for replacement costs is way too high.  You don’t buy that the loss of an average employee means a potential loss of intellectual capital or client relationships.  OK.  How about the impact on internal relationships and getting things done?  How about the productivity and morale of colleagues left behind?  How about the experience and job skills that you’ve lost?  Add in the hard costs of recruiting a new hire, the onboarding time, the training time to full productivity and you’ve still got a big number – even if you found and hired replacements really quickly.  Try the math at 1.5 the average wage as the full replacement cost.  With 8% turnover and 1.5 times the average wage, that’s still a big number

28 x $75,000.00 = $2,100.000.00

And what’s your budget?

And what if your voluntary turnover is higher than 15%?  Or what if the training time to productivity is longer than average?  Or what if you – like 52% of employers – can’t find the replacement talent quickly or at all?  Then the impact will be greater.  Much greater.

This is a useful discussion because it can help create a context for the broader conversation about the real cost of voluntary turnover and the cost savings in having an engaged workforce.  It can be part of the rationale in a business case for investing in any of the levers that will increase retention and reduce turnover.

It’s almost budget time in most organizations.  Financial resources are still scarce.  As you plan your 2013 budget requests for more spending on talent management solutions, be prepared with fact and data.  This might help.

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Filed under Average Wage, Budget, China Gorman, Cornerstone OnDemand, Engagement, Harris Interactive, Talent Management, Turnover, Uncategorized

Data Point #11: Talent optimism vs. realism

We’re surrounded by all kinds of data points about the talent/skill shortage.  I wrote about it here and here.  Today we have two data points:  one comes from SHRM’s Q2 2012 Jobs Outlook Survey Report and the second comes from the BLS 2012 Occupational Outlook Handbook.

SHRM’s Jobs Outlook Survey has some interesting data from a small sample of its 250,000+ members.  (This particular survey was sent to 3,000 randomly selected SHRM members with 336 members responding, for an 11% response rate.)  These quarterly JOS surveys ask HR professionals interesting questions about optimism in job growth, planned changes in total staff levels, categories of workers companies will hire and categories of workers most difficult to hire in the previous quarter.

I was particularly interested in the responses to the question asking which categories of workers were most difficult to hire in the 1st Quarter of this year.  The sample is small (n=246), so the data are directional at best, but do line up with other data sources.

This data is congruent with BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) data relative to education level attainment and the corresponding unemployment rates in April.  The higher the unemployment rate, the lower the difficulty to hire:

  • Less than high school:                                   12.5%
  • High school no college:                                  7.9%
  • Some college or Associate degree:               7.6%
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher:                         4.0%

In other words, it’s more difficult to find skilled professionals and managers in this job market because there are fewer of them unemployed and there are fewer of them overall.  It’s easier to find service workers and unskilled manual workers because more of them are unemployed and there are more of them overall.

But still, as the SHRM report highlights, employers are having difficulty in hiring at all levels.  Which makes me wonder:  are we being unnecessarily restrictive in our job specifications?  Are we hiring people with college degrees when an associate degree would suffice?  Are we requiring associate degrees when a high school degree would be adequate?  I don’t know the answer, but considering the data is interesting.

The Occupation Outlook Handbook, published by the BLS, shows the projected job growth by education category in the 2010-2020 decade:

While the number of jobs created in this decade that will require a Bachelor’s degree or higher is predicted to be nearly 5 million, the number of jobs predicted to be created requiring some college/no degree or less is nearly 13 million.

So if the key to employment (and financial) security for the average worker is a Bachelor’s degree, but the greatest numbers of jobs being created in the next decade won’t require a Bachelor’s degree, how do we reconcile this as employers?

Do we hire college educated workers for jobs that only require a high school diploma?  Are we already doing that now?

Do we work to raise the general level of worker education because we believe it’s the key to global competitiveness?

Do we encourage students to enroll in career and technical education programs in and after high school rather than college because those are the skills needed in the economy?

The data around employers having difficulty finding the talent/skills they need isn’t as simple as it looks.  It’s actually quite challenging.  Under every layer of data is another layer of data.  Solving our talent attraction and acquisition needs won’t be solved with one tactic. But it’s a safe bet that solving our talent challenges will include strengthening relationships between employers and the education infrastructure to produce the skills our economy really needs.

As I look at the data, the optimist in me says we’re covered over in opportunity.  The realist in me says we’ve got a lot of work to do and not a lot of time in which to do it.

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Filed under Bureau of Labor Statistics, China Gorman, Demographics, Education Deficit, Employment Data, HR, Post-secondary education, SHRM, Talent Management, Talent pipeline, U.S. Department of Labor, Uncategorized, Unemployment, Unemployment Rate

Data Point #5: We Can’t Succeed Without Baby Boomers

In earlier Data Point Tuesday posts (here and here) I’ve recommended the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website as a treasure trove of talent management related data.  Another great source of useful information is SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management.

SHRM’s research group works tirelessly to bring relevant, actionable trend and survey information to its members.  And if you aren’t a member (why aren’t you?), the value of SHRM’s research services alone is more than the cost of membership. *

Workplace Visions is part of SHRM’s Workplace Trends and Forecasting program and is published multiple times each year – as new data become available.  The reports are useful signposts for new developments that impact organizations, talent management and HR professionals.

The first such report published this year is “Changes to Retirement Benefits:  What HR Professionals Need to Know in 2012” (member protected).  It’s full of useful observations about changes coming to 401(k) plan rules, Social Security changes to keep an eye on and great data from EBRI (The Employee Benefits Research Institute).

One of the discussion points piqued my interest:  data from EBRI about the reduction in confidence by Baby Boomers that they will have enough money in their retirement years to live comfortably.  See the chart below.  This has big potential impact for employers.

The aha! is that while a steady stream of Americans still plan to retire in their early to mid-60s, many more workers are unsure when they’ll be able to retire – or if they’ll be able to retire.  As you can see from the chart, in 2007 70% of EBRI survey respondents reported some level of confidence in their retirement plans.  That number fell to 49% in 2011.  SHRM also cites data from Towers Watson surveys with similar outcomes.

What does this mean for talent management professionals?  Well, SHRM thinks that providing a stronger hand in retirement planning and financial education for Baby Boomers will help reduce retirement-related anxiety.  I absolutely agree.

Additionally, though, SHRM counsels HR professionals to “weigh the positives and negatives of employing an older workforce.”   They counsel that “older workers are often costlier to keep on board, due to higher salaries and health benefits costs.” Woah.  The  thought that employers will have robust options besides Baby Boomers and other older workers to staff their organizations isn’t supported by the demographic trends.

My take is a little different.  Here’s what the data say:

  • the U.S. population is growing more slowly leading a more slowly growing civilian work force (http://bls.gov/news.release/pdf/ecopro.pdf),
  • the Baby Boom generation moves entirely into the 55-years-old+ age group by 2020 and will represent 25.2% of the work force (up from 13.1% in 2000)
  • the “prime-age” labor cohort (ages 25-54) is projected to drop to 63.7% (from 71.1% in 2000) of the work force

So the engagement, development and retention of Baby Boomers and other older workers will be a very critical part of most organizations’ talent strategies because they’ll make up 25% of the available work force.  Providing incentives to stay, financial education for pro-active retirement planning and unique engagement strategies — among others — will all be part of talent strategy in 2020.  There won’t be any weighing the positives and negatives of employing an older workforce.  But there will be significant effort spent in figuring out how to keep the Baby Boomers’ skills, talents,and  organizational knowledge in play in the work force — and in our organizations.

At 25% of the available workforce, there won’t be other options.  We won’t be able to succeed without Baby Boomers.

*Full Disclosure:  I am SHRM’s former Chief Operating Officer

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Filed under Baby Boomers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Business Success, China Gorman, Demographics, Employment Data, HR, Retirement Planning, Talent Management, Talent pipeline, U.S. Department of Labor