Tag Archives: Talent pipeline

Is Your Workplace Engaged?

My friends at Achievers are collecting applications for inclusion in the 2012 Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Awards. As an HR business leader you should think about applying. Today. Because time is running out.

The process is not onerous and even if you don’t win – it’s a highly competitive and influential list – the process of answering the application questions will get you thinking and focusing on what you need to do create an engaging workplace.

Achievers, the leading next-gen solution provider in the Rewards & Recognition space, has identified Eight Elements of Employee Engagement™:

  1. Leadership
  2. Communication
  3. Culture
  4. Rewards and Recognition
  5. Professional and Personal Growth
  6. Accountability and Performance
  7. Vision and Values
  8. Corporate Social Responsibility

The questions in the application survey ask employers to comment on their programs, policies and structure around each of the eight elements. In some cases, as in the Vision and Values section, the survey asks how your organization handles behavior that is NOT in line with a core value.

Each answer can be no more than 250 words, so the survey won’t take hours to complete – but will require thought in order to be both comprehensive and brief.

Previous winners have included organizations as diverse as ADP, Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, North Shore-LIJ Health System, Glassdoor.com and E&A Credit Union.

The winning organizations will be notified on August 20 and the public announcement will be on August 27th, with the awards galas on October 25th in San Francisco (U.S. list) and November 14th in Toronto (Canada list).

Achievers has a strong history of research and analysis in the engagement arena and is a strong go-to source for current data and thinking on how engaged workforces outperform their unengaged peers.  Check out these white papers here and here.

Winning an award like this is great. Being able to declare to your talent community and other stakeholders that you are an organization publicly recognized for its effective focus on creating a culture and environment focused on employee engagement is pure gold. Apply here before time runs out to be included in the 2012 list. And good luck!

*Full disclosure: I’m one of 6 judges who will determine the final winners.

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Filed under 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Award, Achievers, Business Success, Engagement, HR, Razor Suleman, Talent Community, Talent pipeline

HR Talent Shortage

SHRM has just released a new report in its series on The Ongoing Impact of the Recession. The current release focuses on the Manufacturing Industry.  Previous reports have focused on the Federal Government, State and Local Government and the Finance Industry.

This report clearly shows the continued strong degree of difficulty in hiring professionals with STEM education backgrounds – as well as mangers and executives, the skilled trades, sales professionals, HR professionals and accounting/finance professionals. It should come as no surprise to any business leader or talent management professional that finding professionals in the U.S. with STEM backgrounds is difficult.  The U.S. education infrastructure is not producing enough graduates in these disciplines. See my posts here and here.

It is surprising to note, however, that in addition to reporting a high degree of difficulty in finding STEM professionals and skilled trade workers, manufacturing employers are also having a difficult time finding managerial and executive talent, and sales, HR and accounting/finance talent.

Hmmmm.  A shortage of HR talent. Is this good or bad news?

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Filed under Education Deficit, Hiring Difficulty, HR, SHRM, STEM, Talent pipeline

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

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 #9: Employer Loyalty Isn’t Dead? Wait. What?

MetLife published its 10th Annual Study of Employee Benefit Trends on March 19th, 2012.  At 80 pages, it’s a read.  But it’s a fascinating read.

The report shows clearly that the strong role of workplace benefits in driving employee attraction, retention and productivity continues as reported by these MetLife studies during the last 10 years and persists today during the slow economic recovery.  Interestingly, the study correlates satisfaction with benefits to employee job satisfaction, and also shows clearly that employees who are dissatisfied with their benefits are more likely to want to work somewhere else.

The data are fascinating.  And I recommend the investment of 30 minutes to read it through.

The data point that I found most interesting in the study follows:

I haven’t seen anyone discuss employer loyalty to employees in a long time.  I think I assumed, by looking at other trends, that the issue of employer loyalty was long dead.  Building employee loyalty, however, was a whole other discussion:  we call it employee engagement.  And employers are starting to pay attention to this issue because of the rapid shift in workforce demographics coming down on us like a load of bricks. (See my posts on this topic here and here.)

But where has been the focus on employer engagement? Have we all assumed that employer loyalty is dead and gone forever?  That employees “know the score” and don’t expect employers to be loyal to them?  Well, MetLife reports that between 2008 and 2011 employer loyalty scores have increased 5% from 52% to 59%!  Wait.  What?

In the same time period, however, the perception by employees that their employers are loyal to them has decreased 8% from 40% to 32%.  How pitiful is that?  Employers think they’re doing better, but employees aren’t getting the message.  And in fact, more of them aren’t getting the message as time goes on.

I think this is interesting.  Despite all the attention being paid to employee engagement – through salary, through benefits, through recognition, through providing strong ethical cultures, through providing meaningful and interesting work — in fact, the study finds evidence of a widening disconnect between employers and employees.

Job insecurity and expectations that benefits will be cut may well be contributing to employees feeling less important to their employers.  This “loyalty gap” presents an immediate opportunity for HR and C-Suite leaders to really step up communication and feedback about their increased loyalty.  Of course, the proof is in the pudding, and for employees to believe that their employer is growing more loyal to them, they are going to have to see a change in behavior – if they stick around long enough.

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Filed under China Gorman, Culture, Demographics, Employee Benefits, Employee Loyalty, Employer Loyalty, Engagement, MetLife, Talent pipeline, Uncategorized

Data Point #8: Risk of talent and skills shortages

I recently came across a fascinating report published by Lloyd’s, the world’s leading market for specialist insurance.  Lloyd’s Risk Index is based on a survey of global business leaders by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and Lloyd’s.  It’s the second of its kind, the first having been published in 2009.  The survey is global and breathtaking in its scope.  It measures the top 50 Priority Risk factors for business – as identified by business leaders – as well as measuring how prepared businesses are to face these identified risks.

The headline for this survey is that business has gone from identifying credit as one of the biggest business risks in 2009 to focusing on talent as one of the biggest risks in 2011 and beyond.

As I read the report (see it here), I am struck that in the top 50 individual risks, as many as 12 have to do with people:  talent shortages, impact of regulation, demographic shifts, population growth, industrial/workplace accidents, changing legislation and others.

The respondent profiles are from more than 500 C-Suite executives (although it doesn’t look like CHROs were included) from large global enterprises.  The survey rated their attitudes regarding risk and their preparedness to face risks across five key categories:

  • Business and strategic risk
  • Economic regulatory and market risk
  • Political, crime and security risk
  • Environmental and health risk
  • Natural hazard risk

As the report explains, anything high on an executive’s risk priority list can be considered in terms of a potential critical point of failure of business.  So we’re talking big risks here.  Identified by board members and C-Suite executives in the largest global businesses in the world.

So of all 50 identified risks, guess what made the number two spot?  Talent and Skills Shortages (Including Succession Risk).  Woah.  Here’s what it looks like:

Talent and Skills Shortages — Priority and Preparedness by Region

The big headline for me is that more than 500 of the business leaders of largest businesses in the world agree that that the talent shortage is real.  That it’s big.  And it’s global.  And it threatens every business.

The second big headline is that this evaluation is being made by business leaders who do not identify themselves as HR Executives.  And that’s big.  If the board members and C-Suite executives of the largest enterprises in the world believe that the second biggest risk to their success is the looming talent shortage, then HR better be prepared with solutions for critical talent acquisition, retention and development.  And they better be prepared today.

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Filed under Business Success, Corporate Risk Management, Demographics, Economist Intelligence Unit, Lloyd's, Talent pipeline

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

Data Point #4: Cyclical vs. Structural Unemployment

The U.S. Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics is a gold mine of information.  It crunches massive amounts of data having to do with labor and the economy, and is prolific in providing projections for the future.  (See previous posts here and here.)

An interesting monthly publication put out by the BLS is the Monthly Labor Review.  The January edition included an Overview of projections to 2020 based on its Employment Outlook 2010-2020.  The overview contains a review of the underlying data behind all of the BLS’s projections.  Labor force participation by demographic, the connection between GDP and productivity, job growth by sector/industry, job growth by occupation, job growth by education level – all are included in this overview.

What I found most interesting was a graph and brief discussion comparing the most recent recession and the resulting time to labor market recovery to the previous four recessions.  Take a look at the graph.

We all know that the effects of the 2007-2009 recession are still being felt.  In fact, the graph shows that we are a long way from reaching “recovery to level at start of recession” — some 30 months out from the official end of the recession.  No surprise, but perhaps the combination of the length of the recovery together with the continued gap between where we are and the “recovery to level at start of recession” is noteworthy.  Also of note:  this overview reports that the BLS sets the “natural rate of unemployment” at 5.2%.  We’re still a long way from the recovery to level at start of recession rate — and a much longer way from the natural rate some 40 months from the official start of the recession.

The real question is, why is this recovery taking so long compared to the previous recoveries shown in the graph?  Labor market analysts discuss the cyclical vs. structural causes that continue to depress hiring and job creation.  Cyclical unemployment occurs when workers are laid off because of weak demand, but who expect to be re-hired when demand picks up – usually by the same organization, and usually in the same occupation or industry.

Structural changes in the economy also create job loss – our most recent recession proved that unequivocally.  Structural unemployment could also be caused by weak demand, but is fundamentally caused by other dynamics that impede workers’ abilities to return to work when demand picks up.  For example, new technology and resulting productivity gains may reduce the need to rehire workers with less current skills and may reduce the number of workers needed even after recovery.   As time goes on, the skills deficit of the structurally unemployed gets bigger and so they may well experience longer periods of unemployment.  Retraining in new occupations will be required for these workers in many cases.  Sound familiar?

As HR and talent management professionals take into account the impact of both cyclical and structural unemployment in their locations and industries, their approach to creating a robust talent pipeline will be far more realistic and attainable if they focus on causes of structural unemployment.  Just as employers are having difficulty finding the skills they need, the structurally unemployed are having difficulty finding new homes for their outdated skills.

Surely the answer is obvious to more than me.

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Filed under Bureau of Labor Statistics, Cyclical Unemployment, Employment Data, Job Creation, Monthly Labor Review, Structural Unemployment, Talent pipeline, U.S. Department of Labor, Uncategorized, Unemployment

AT&T, JAG and the Talent Deficit

In my post yesterday, I suggested that employers will need to start making strategic partnerships with education institutions and economic development organizations, among others, to start dealing with the upcoming acute shortage of workers who have graduated from high school and have some college under their belt.

A great example of this came to my attention yesterday.  On Monday AT&T announced an investment of $250,000,000 over the next five years to improve high school graduation rates.  Here’s how their announcement began:  “ As access to skilled workers becomes increasingly vital to the U.S. economy, AT&T is launching a quarter-billion-dollar campaign to help more students graduate from high school ready for careers and college, and to ensure the country is better prepared to meet global competition.”

Investing in JAG – Jobs for America’s Graduates – is an example of strategic corporate investment in the future of the talent pipeline.  JAG, the most effective program of its kind – is a state-based national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who are most at-risk.  In more than three decades of operation, JAG has delivered consistent, compelling results – helping nearly three-quarters of a million young people stay in school through graduation, pursue post-secondary education and secure quality entry-level jobs leading to career advancement opportunities.  The kids in the AT&T Aspire video are great examples of JAG at work in the trenches.

Who wouldn’t hire those kids?

I ended my Data Point Tuesday post yesterday with this imperative:  “The sooner talent acquisition professionals and learning/development professionals in organizations begin to work together on workforce planning and tackling the education deficit, the sooner the talent pipeline will begin to be prepared for 46 million new jobs.”

Looks like AT&T is out in front.  Again!

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Filed under Aspire, AT&T, China Gorman, Education Deficit, High School Graduation Rates, JAG, Job Creation, Talent pipeline, Uncategorized

Data Point #3: The U.S. Education Deficit and 46.8 Million New Jobs

Many business leaders and most talent management professionals know that the demographic shifts that are happening now and are projected to happen in the next several years will impact every organization’s ability to meet its business goals.  On top of demographic trends,  education trends are also going in the wrong direction.  Between 1997 and 2009 the U.S. position as a world leader in education has slipped from 4th to 11th, as an example.

According to Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018, a report published by Georgetown University, the U.S. economy will create 46.8 million openings by 2018 – 13.8 million brand new jobs and 33 million “replacement” jobs,” positions vacated by workers who have retired or permanently left their occupation by 2018.

Good news for the economy and the working population of the U.S., right?  Well, maybe.

Let’s peel back just one layer of the onion and look at what these new and replacement jobs will require.  According to the Georgetown report, nearly 63% of these jobs will require workers with at least some college education.

This data projects that one-third of the new jobs will require a Bachelor’s degree or better and nearly 30% will require a two-year Associate’s degree or some college.  Only 36% will require a high school diploma or less – and that percentage of all jobs continues to decline.

Here’s the challenge for employers, according to the Georgetown report:  by 2018 the U.S. post-secondary education system will have produced 3 million fewer college graduates than required by the labor market.  And what if the economy recovers faster than expected with greater job growth and greater Baby Boomer retirements?  The delta gets even bigger.

Here’s where talent management professionals should be thinking creatively and strategically.

If the working population will not be educated enough for these 46 million new jobs, employers will have to be focused on educating them.

But how to begin?  Individual employers, groups of employers (aligned geographically or by industry) will have to have a multi-faceted approach, but the cost effective bet is starting with their existing workforce.  Organizations are going to have to educate their own workers and look to current best practice (tuition reimbursement programs, for examples) as well as innovate new approaches.

Strategic partnerships between employers and education institutions are beginning to create new education paradigms.  But that won’t be enough.  Other stakeholders will need to begin their involvement in educating the workforce:  local and regional economic development organizations, local workforce boards, state departments of labor and education, professional associations, labor unions – all will begin to partner with employers to deliver the educated talent they need.  Talent management leaders should be out in front on this issue, defining the skills outcomes required.

It’s clear that demand will outstrip supply in almost all occupational categories soon.  The sooner talent acquisition professionals and learning/development professionals in organizations begin to work together on workforce planning and tackling the education deficit, the sooner the talent pipeline will begin to be prepared for 46 million new jobs.

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Filed under CAEL, Education Deficit, Job Creation, Post-secondary education, Talent pipeline, Tuition Reimbursement, Uncategorized