Category Archives: Workforce Planning

That State of American Jobs and Workers

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While I was browsing the internet looking for some economic data, I came across this 2016 report from the Pew Research Center:  The State of American Jobs. And it is compelling! The Pew Research Center is “a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. They conduct public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social science research.”

This report is hefty at 95 pages, but it is totally readable. And full of great information about the state of the U.S. workforce. I couldn’t put it down. (Well, I couldn’t stop scrolling forward.)

There are five sections – and they’re all fascinating. If you have anything to do with people in your organization – hiring, managing, training, deploying – there will be nuggets here that will absolutely help you be more effective. The five sections are:

  1. Changes in the American workplace
  2. How Americas assess the jobs situation today and prospects for the future
  3. How Americans view their jobs
  4. Skills and training needed to compete in today’s economy
  5. The value of a college education

Each of these alone are fascinating topics and the data/analysis provided generate great food for thought and action. An opening overview section sets the stage for a fascinating discussion of how American workers are assessing their skills, their ability to be competitive in the economy and the role of the U.S. education infrastructure to ensure employability.

Here are two graphs from the overview section that ought to catch your eye. First:

pew-2And second:

pew-1

Each of these graphs tells a profound story about workers, responsibility for employability, and the role of our education system in preparing workers for careers. And these are just in the overview. Wait until you see the nuggets in each of the following 5 chapters.

95 pages seem long – but it really isn’t. There are insights galore here that can help you in your talent attraction, development, retention and deployment policies and programs. And you don’t have to dig to get to the nuggets. They’re right there on the surface. Download it here, and browse through it first. Then go back and delve in to the chapters that really appeal to you. If you’re in any kind of people business – and who isn’t? – those nuggets will be valuable. Totally worth your time.

 

 

 

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Productivity, HR Data, HR Trends, Human Capital, Pew Research Center, Post-secondary education, Talent Analytics, Workforce Demographics, Workforce Planning

The True Cost of On-Demand Talent

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WorkMarket has just published a new survey analysis, the 2016 Corporate On-Demand Talent Report. It’s got some really great information about “On-Demand” talent in our changing economy. And while a definition of “On-Demand” was never given, it’s clear that it means more than the traditional blue collar or retail “temp” definition. It clearly also includes professionals of all stripes who either prefer a more fluid and flexible on-demand employer-employee relationship, or who have been displaced and who can’t seem to find new, satisfying full-time employment.

Some interesting findings:

  • Nearly 17% — or 27 million workers – of the U.S, workforce is now part of the corporate on-demand economy

  • 88% of businesses are currently using an on-demand workforce

  • 46% of businesses are using on-demand labor for more than a year at a time

  • 42% of businesses are using the same professionals more than half the time

At 9 pages, the survey report is a quick and interesting read. The survey results are from an online survey of 1,037 adults that was fielded in November and December last year. The employers represented appear to be an appropriate cross-section in terms of revenue size and numbers of employees.

The results of this survey show an economy and workforce undergoing an even larger transition than we might have realized: more than 40% of businesses indicated their on-demand professionals comprised more than 30% of their overall workforce. WorkMarket suggests that employers are trying to shrink their fulltime workforces, with all the expenses and liabilities they entail, while trying to grow their businesses. This could mean a fundamental reshaping of the employer-employee relationship. Employers are considering how they can we grow their businesses while shrinking their commitment to their people, seems to be the message from this report.

This graphic is challenging for me:

WorkMarket 1

I guess my question is: what does flexibility mean? Does it mean having the ability to move people around when and where we need them? Does it mean being able to staff up and down during peaks and valleys? Or does flexibility mean being able to “rent” skills for as long as possible without calling the skills holders “headcount” and having to provide a full range of benefits? Is headcount a dirty word now?

Does lowering labor costs mean paying on-demand workers less than fulltime workers? Does lowering labor costs also mean not providing the full range of benefits to on-demand workers that similarly skilled and deployed full-time workers receive?

These findings are surprising to me because I’ve actually been noting a growth in the number of employers that are focusing on creating more human workplace cultures. Creating cultures that treat employees as full human beings, not just skills that clock in and clock out. The proliferation of data connecting better corporate performance with positive, employee-focused cultures seem to contradict these findings that suggest employers will go to great lengths to NOT hire full-time employees and be liable for them.

WorkMarket may have uncovered unintended consequences of the On-Demand economy. At least I hope they’re unintended. These survey results could turn our conversations away from the ever elusive quest for employee engagement to a more useful discussion about the changing nature of the employer-employee relationship in the U.S. If employers really do want skills flexibility more than they want a stable, reliable workforce to whom they are committed, we have only begun to experience the On-Demand economy.

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Filed under China Gorman, Company Culture, Data Point Tuesday, On-Demand Economy, Workforce Management, Workforce Planning, WorkMarket

The Win-Win of Leveraging Baby Boomers

data point tuesdayI’m a Baby Boomer, born smack-dab in the middle of my generation. And I’m beginning to concretely think about the answers to questions like:

  • What is the legacy that my career will leave behind?
  • What kinds of work do I really want to do going forward?
  • What will retirement look like for me?
  • When will I want to retire (because it certainly is the last thing on my mind now…)?

Just as I wrestle with these questions, organizations are facing stiff headwinds on the talent pipeline front making workers like me critical components in workforce planning activities. We all know that workforce demographics are changing rapidly and many organizations are flummoxed when they try to get a picture of how to respond to this critical talent dynamic. Say what we will about the criticality of Millennial employees, many organizations are starting to pay equal attention to retaining the backbones of their organizations: Baby Boomers.

A terrific source of practical and actionable research based information is the SHRM Foundation’s recently published Effective Practice Guideline: The Aging Workforce: Leveraging the Talents of Mature Employees. As with all the reports in this series, it takes a rigorous approach to discovering what the research says and what organizations are actually doing in the topic area. If you haven’t discovered the SHRM Foundation’s EPGs, you’ll thank me after you download and read this free report. Not just because the data are useful and the examples practical, but because it is written for practitioners not academics and is super easy to consume.

“Mature workers will be a firm’s largest source of talent in the next two decades. There will not be enough younger workers for all the positions an organization needs to fill, particularly those requiring advanced manufacturing skills or advanced education in science, technology engineering and math.”

We all know this. The real question is what do we do about it? And this report lays out a roadmap for data gathering within your organization, a planning outline, successful examples from other organizations, and strategies for moving your plan forward.

EPG April 28 2015This chart lays out the challenge well. What follows is a trove of information about mature workers. What they want, what they can do, and the inordinate benefits of keeping them engaged in the workforce. Here are several benefits outlined in the report:

EPG 2 April 28 2015The real meat of the report are the 15 strategies for engaging and retaining mature workers that are based on both research and real organization practice. There are mini-case studies from 30 employers sprinkled throughout the strategies that share effective practices. Perhaps the most impactful sentence in the entire report is in the introduction to the 15 strategies: “The best way to engage and retain workers of any age is to provide a strong vision at the executive level, fair compensation and competent, respectful supervisors.” While the focus is clearly on the acquisition and retention of mature workers, every age demographic benefits from these strategies.

15 Strategies for engaging and retaining mature workers:

  1. Acknowledge Work Contributions
  2. Offer Flexible Work Arrangements
  3. Offer Bridge Employment
  4. Support Health and Wellness
  5. Provide Caregiver Support
  6. Offer Skills Training
  7. Provide Career and Personal Growth Opportunities
  8. Use Mixed-Age Workgroups
  9. (Re)Design Work to Match Worker Capabilities
  10. Train Managers and Supervisors
  11. Provide Support for Retirement Planning
  12. Address Age Discrimination (Real and Perceived)
  13. Foster an Age-Positive Organizational Culture
  14. Foster Job and Career Embeddedness
  15. Facilitate Critical Knowledge Transfer

It’s obvious that none of these strategies are rocket science. In fact, as you look at the list you might think, “well, these are just common sense practices that will support the engagement and retention of ALL of our workers.” And that’s the point. We can’t focus our workforce planning activities on one generation alone. And ensuring that we Baby Boomers remain engaged and valued will make the demographic transition that is looming just over the horizon more effectively managed for organizations, for workers and their families, and for society. I call that a win-win!

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Filed under Baby Boomers, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Effective Practice Guidelines, SHRM Foundation, Workforce Demographics, Workforce Planning

Automated Workforce Planning: Tactical or Strategic?

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An organization’s most critical assets are its employees. No one bothers to argue against that point any more. An organization’s workforce is also, however, its most expensive asset, and workforce management (the development of employees, retention of skilled talent, etc.) is consistently cited as one of the top issues facing organizations today. In a recent Aberdeen report, 60% of all organizations reported a need to improve workforce planning capabilities as a driver of their total workforce management efforts.

Pressures Driving TWM

Improving workforce planning capabilities took the top spot for pressures driving workforce management efforts, but better access to workforce data (in order to improve decision-making) was close behind, 60% vs. 52%. In our current “golden age of technology” there are ample workforce management technology solutions that can help organizations with workforce management, from timekeeping and leave of absence management to labor forecasting and analytics. The adoption of automated workforce management solutions though (as with other tech solutions) has been slow among organizations. Aside from the fact that the global workforce is rapidly driving towards a place where technology and automated workforce solutions will be a necessity for companies to remain innovative and successful, we have data that show – on a much simpler level – that workforce management technology is a good investment because it offers organizations multiple financial benefits.

Research shows that the use of automated time, attendance, and scheduling solutions results in 8% to 20% lower replacement costs (as a percentage of annual pay) for hourly workers, which can be attributed to the reduced cost of administration needed to manually manage such functions. Aberdeen’s research also found that average revenue per full time employee increased four times in organizations with automated absence/leave management technology and two times for organizations with automated scheduling, time, and attendance technology.

Automation Impact GraphOrganizations that automate scheduling, time/attendance and leave/absence management also saw increases in customer satisfaction levels ranging from 9.2% to 10.4% (compared to a 2.9% to 6.2% range of improvements for organizations that did not have automated solutions).

Automated workforce management solutions can also help to reduce unplanned overtime. While it’s expected of organizations to experience some overtime, having an inaccurate idea of what employees schedules will look like can quickly increase an organization’s spending. Best in class organizations experience less than 4% of unplanned overtime costs in comparison with 27% for laggard organizations. Automated solutions can help managers with critical scheduling accuracy, freeing them to give more time and attention to core business needs.

Unplanned-Overtime-Costs

Another benefit for organizations that use automated time and attendance software is greater workforce capacity utilization. These companies have employees who, on average, work at 12% more their capacity than those who rely on manual processes or spreadsheets (83% vs. 74%). Automated leave and absence management additionally helps to lower costs by accurately tracking employees’ time off, making sure PTO is recorded as it is taken (ensuring for example, that employees are not owed leave at the end of the year they’ve earned but not taken) and by providing organizations with software to properly submit and track leave and absence requests (mitigating the impact of planned/unplanned losses).

A May 2014 report by Aberdeen found that optimizing scheduling is a key attribute of leading firms. These firms experienced consecutive years of improvement in customer satisfaction by 17.8% compared to firms who did not have a focus on optimizing scheduling and actually lowered their customer satisfaction rates by an average of -3.9%. This should be the key take-away for organizations when it comes to automated workforce management solutions – we know that automated workforce management software can drastically help organizations to improve and optimize scheduling, and this is a key attribute of successful companies. And if the slow adoption of automated solutions comes from a concern that instituting such software could turn into a micro-managing nightmare, organizations should note that, as with all tools, its about how you introduce them and support their adoption. The potential benefits of automated solutions far out-way any cons, so dipping a foot in the automated solutions pool seems well worth the risk, even if it may require an investment in training and change management. We’re already witnessing the expansion of HR and administrative roles within organizations; these functions are providing organizations with instrumentally more strategic value than they have in the past. Free up these departments time and energy from consuming workforce management tasks like monitoring attendance/leave and scheduling, and see what happens when tactical, manual roles become automated and enable more strategic data analysis and insight to enter the mix!

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Filed under #HRTechTrends, Aberdeen Group, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Workforce Management, Workforce Planning, Workplace Studies