When Human Resource professionals gathered in Long Beach for the PIHRA California HR Conference on August 30th, discussions — both formal and informal — focused on emerging and future trends that significantly impact employers and their HR leaders and managers. One of the strongest trends discussed this year concerned the demographic shifts and the skill gap for key talent. Belinda Morris, Principal at Peoplescape, comments on this trend.
Q Shari. What was the conference “take-away” from the Peoplescape team in attendance with regard to Talent Acquisition?
A Belinda. A tighter labor market and greater competition for quality employees resonates with our clientele, especially in Los Angeles. We have certainly seen increased interest from companies for retained recruitment assistance. They are turning to an outside consultant to find that special person faster and to screen potential candidates at a more stringent level using our trained techniques and assessment tools. Untrained interviewers, using gut feel selection methods are just not cutting it these days and it shows – the costs outweigh the ‘apparent’ benefits.
Q Shari. Many of the speakers used the word “urgency” in describing the companies they encounter that are stalemated from achieving a vital goal without that key executive in place. Are companies doing enough proactively to develop key employees with potential already working in their companies?
A Belinda. What we have seen in the past is that career development and employee “soft-skill” training was often placed on the back burner while more pressing needs were handled. The conversation at the conference indicates a shift toward making this a higher priority. The dialogue revolved around a culture of investment in people and creation of a sense of belonging, in order for them to stay. Companies are less willing to invest dollars in career development if they feel that employees will participate only to leap to their next career step somewhere else. Employees often tell HR that their workloads and schedules don’t really allow enough time to engage in cross-training or leadership training so there may be a disconnect as to the training subject matter. The take-away for our team at the conference is that engagement surveys are one solution that can align these competing interests to achieve more effective outcomes when employee development initiatives are undertaken. These discussions kept reminding me of Richard Branson’s quote “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.
Q Shari. Speaker Vlad Vaiman, of Cal Lutheran, reported in his Global Talent Management presentation that in 2014, for the first time, workers over 40 years of age exceeded workers under 40. Further with the 55+ age group increasing to 25% of the workforce, and in about 5 years’ millennials filling almost the other 75%, this demographic shift can result for many companies in a clash of culture and styles. What do you see from clients in terms of issues that arise directly from this broader dynamic and what practical steps can they take knowing the intergenerational nature of workforces is with us to stay?
A Belinda. Managing intergenerational employees is a mega-trend for HR across all businesses and heavily talked about at business conferences. Diverse and multi-generational is the NEW workforce paradigm. The impact shows up in a variety of “clashes and disconnects” and at Peoplescape we receive many calls requesting behind-the-scenes advice on ways to improve these dynamics. The Workforce Emerging Workforce Study 2015 Spherion was mentioned repeatedly at the Conference and brings attention to the need for companies to become more inclusive and creative in bringing out the best, distilling the value from each generation, in order to stay competitive or, better yet, to become an Employer of Choice.
Q Shari. As HR consultants, you stay on top of tools, resources and professional concerns that are voiced at regional conferences like the California HR Conference. What might your team focus differently on going forward to better address the most important people issues small to mid-size employers are reporting?
A Belinda. Our team is always looking for cutting edge tools that support HR so we spent time at the Expo to discuss with vendors their latest products to enhance and improve Human Resource management. If we are the experts, we have to have our ear to the ground on best sources and be ready to access them to elevate our clients and the projects we implement for them, to the next level.