Category Archives: Workforce Skills

Promoting from Within: Not as Easy as it Seems

Data Point Tuesday
A recent survey by the College for America, “The 2014 Workplace Strategies Survey”, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, reveals that employers prefer developing employees to hiring new ones by a 2:1 margin. A smart and cost-effective talent management strategy to be sure. But preferring to promote and being able to promote are two quite different things – as this study points out.

73% of survey respondents stated that for low-level team leader positions and middle management roles, developing current employees’ skills (vs. hiring new) best reflected their company’s talent strategies. For senior management and executive roles, 67% of respondents reported that developing the skills of current employees (vs. hiring new) best reflected their company’s talent strategies. The results are clear, companies want to promote from within! The College of America’s survey sourced information from 400 senior business leaders responsible for HR and/or administration at companies of 500+ employees, between December 6th and 16th 2013.

College for America
Though these employers prefer promotion to new hiring, the data show that developing leadership skills and addressing skill gaps remain significant issues to overcome. When asked about the challenges faced when developing employees, 94% of respondents reported that the need to build talent and leadership was a very or somewhat important challenge; 87% reported that employees missing skills for promotion was a very or somewhat important challenge; and 85% reported that finding well qualified candidates was a very or somewhat important challenge. The survey also shows that companies with 50% or more full time employees were hit harder by the skills gap than companies with 50% of more part time employees. “Heavily full-time” organizations reported that the three biggest challenges their organizations faced were: talent and leadership, qualified applicants, and employees having the right skills for promotion. Companies with 50% or more part time employees reported their top three challenges as: talent and leadership, retaining workers, and having sufficiently engaged employees.

The good news though, is that many organizations are instituting employee development programs, and a high percentage of organizations are offering tuition reimbursement. The College for America’s survey reports that 76% of organizations offer tuition reimbursement to employees to help them pursue a college degree. With this, 79% of organizations report that tuition reimbursement is available to the majority of employees (executives, senior level managers, supervisors and middle managers, and workers without a college degree). So the beginning step of making degree programs affordable for workers of all levels is being offered by a majority of employers. The next steps of supporting degree completion and further supporting internal mobility are next if employers will truly be able to meet their strategic plan to promote from within rather than buying new talent in the open market.

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Filed under China Gorman, College for America, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Development Program, Hiring, Workforce Skills, Workplace Strategies

You Think We Have Skills Shortages Now? Let’s Talk in 2020!

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Skills shortages in 2020 will rise to an entirely new level. And I’m not talking about STEM skills, although they’re critical. Or the ability to speak multiple parched earthlanguages, which needs to be more common in the U.S. Or even the readiness of college graduates to take a place in the economy, which a majority of employers report is lacking.

I’m talking about the skills that the globally-connected, superstructured, computationally focused, smart-machine powered organizations of the future staffed by longer living and working, new media using employees will require.

We’re all thinking about that right? We’re re-writing job descriptions and re-wording job postings to incorporate the emerging skills we know we’ll need. Aren’t we? Well, maybe not. We know the names of the skills we can’t get today – those STEM, analytical thinking, communication and personal responsibility/accountability skills we’re sure our young people don’t have.

But really. What about the skills for the future?  I’m not sure what we’ll call those skills. I’m not even sure they’re skills, to be honest, but here’s what I do know:

  • People are living longer and will want/need to have longer careers
  • Smart machines are taking over the most routine workplace tasks
  • Data – big, medium and small – are changing the way decisions are being made at every organizational level
  • Text isn’t the only way we communicate any more
  • Organization structures and behaviors are changing due to social technologies
  • We say “Global” but what that really mean is that innovation and growth will be primarily driven through the integration of differing cultural norms and diversity

IFTF LogoThe Institute for the Future’s Future Work Skills 2020 highlights recent research that predicts the kinds of skills for which we’ll be recruiting in 2020 (which is only 6 and-a-half years away). Trust me when I write that the majority of HR/recruiting professionals are not ready for this. ATSs aren’t ready for this. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter aren’t ready for this. And clearly, our education infrastructure isn’t ready for this. And yet, here we are.

The IFTF identifies and defines ten skills that we need to begin to teach now so we can deploy them in six-and-a-half-years.  They are:

  1. Sense-making:  the ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
  2. Social Intelligence:  the ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
  3. Novel & Adaptive Thinking:  proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  4. Cross-cultural Competency:  ability to operate in different cultural settings
  5. Computational Thinking:  the ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  6. New-media Literacy:  the ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  7. Transdisciplinarity:  literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  8. Design Mindset:  the ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes
  9. Cognitive Load Management:  the ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques
  10. 10.   Virtual Collaboration:  the ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual teaSocial intelligence (we call it EQ today, I think) and Cross-cultural Competency are certainly emerging in more sophisticated and global organizations currently. Perhaps we have a leg up with these two.

But have you ever seen a job description requiring Transdisciplinarity and a Design Mindset?

What kind of behavioral interview questions would you use to determine if a candidate has Cognitive Load Management and Novel/Adaptive Thinking Skills?

How would you Tweet those jobs? How would your careers page change?

And once onboard, how would you manage the performance of employees’ Virtual Collaboration and Sense-making?

And speaking of job descriptions and performance management, how will New-media Literacy and Social Intelligence change the very nature of these processes?

Whew! We think the current skills shortage is frustrating and scary. It could be that the future skills shortage will upend everything!

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Filed under Annual Performance Reviews, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Hiring Difficulty, HR Data, Institute for the Future, Performance Management, Skills Shortage, STEM, Workforce Skills