We are in a race for talent and the winners will be the organisations who recognise that it is a war, and who can design, implement and execute a talent attraction and retention strategy that is fit for purpose – it has to be a competitive advantage!
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed that the number of UK job vacancies in this period last year was the highest on record since 2001; at 777 000!
(low point of 432 000 in May 2009 and an average of 603 000 from 2001-2017)
In August 2017 the ONS showed the UK employment rate as 75.1% (the proportion of people in work aged 16-65) – the highest since comparable records began in 1971.
Every sector and Geographic location is experiencing growth – whilst skills are in decline.
For example- there is a shortfall of c30 000 engineers in the UK alone.
The government short skills register has grown from 30 skills to 73 in the last year.
Total fertility rates, which can be defined as the average number of children born to a woman who survives her reproductive years (aged 15-49), have decreased by approximately half since the 1960s.
Europe is ageing. On average, each woman has 1.58 children. This is substantially below the 2.1 children needed to sustain the current population (and therefore workforce) level.
The number of foreign tech job applications are down 50% since the EU referendum vote.
The number of foreign recruits in the UK candidate pool has halved since Brexit – a worrying trend in a country where 10% of workers, including a third of those in the all-important tech industry, are international
The latest net migration figure of 246 000 was 81 000 lower than the 327 000 recorded in March 2016 (ONS).
By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce.
Nearly 33% of new hires look for a new job within their first 6 months on the job. Among Millennials this percentage is even higher – and it happens earlier!
Only 32% of talent leaders considered retention as a top priority (LinkedIn recruitment trends)
Analysis of salaries of 42 500 entry level jobs from more than 770 organisations across the Uk show that entry level STEM roles within the software development or engineering could see an increase of wage by 19% to £30 973 and 17% to £30 37 respectively, making these the highest paid entry level roles in the country (Korn Ferry 2016)
Approximately only 1% of candidates / applicants are hired – Lever 2017 (Inside the recruiting Funnel: Essential Metrics for StartUps and SMBs 2017)
We are heading into the “Perfect Storm” – where supply and demand are heavily biased towards the candidate – why should they choose to work for you?
You can no longer buy talent; you can only sell to them – the candidates are your customer. Are they always right? Are you catering for their needs?
If we accept that talent is the principle differentiator for a company’s success in a global, complex, extremely competitive and dynamic environment, then you have to ask the following question.
What are you doing to ensure that you have access to that talent?
It’s a very good place to start ..
So – Yes – the festive season has led to an overdose of family friendly sing-a-long movies. And the family VonTrapp has really struck a chord.
The culture of a company, a family, a club – all comes from the top down. The members take their cues from the leadership and this is how a culture disseminates.
Captain Von Trapp ran his family like he ran his ship.. watertight. No room for discussion – and know your place to the whistle. Dictatorial.
The interesting thing about the Von Trapp family is how it did work. The Captain wasn’t a cruel dictator – and things ticked along relatively well. But then along came Maria… with a new way of thinking and doing.. and all kinds of dissension broke out in the ranks.
This family wasn’t a toxic culture though – but what the delights of a Christmas musical can show us – is that there are often other ways – and it takes a strong leader to allow others ideas to be fully heard – especially when the new way is the total opposite of the old.
So why am I rambling on about Julie Andrews… well – this got me to thinking about toxicity in the workplace.
A new year frequently engenders much reflection – and a promise to do things differently. And our work is such a major part of our life that often a new year spells great change , and much to do in the world of recruitment.
So with a view to starting at the beginning – it stands to reason that the place to evaluate a company’s culture is with the leadership.
Toxic cultures destroy the bottom line – they increase employee turnover and decrease engagement. The leadership is the public face of the organisation –having a bad boss is the number one reason why employees leave……cultural disconnect is not far behind.
Leaders must set the tone and be as concerned about the culture as they are about strategy. This culture first approach has a cascade effect – rippling down through the organisation.
Leaders set the tone and mobilise the workforce. They communicate the reality of the business and its impact.
In financial terms – getting rid of a toxic culture (or employees!) can have a profound effect on the bottom line. A “superstar” hire can only bring in so much if the culture is a drain on productivity. Take a look at the Harvard Business Review for thoughts on Toxic Culture and “Business Drain”!
And in our line of work – we are constantly being asked to provide that next high flier.. But I would say wake up C-Suite.
Cultural Change is not a buzz word or just a new year’s resolution. Its perhaps the most important thing you can re-evaluate in 2018. Get the engagement right and the rest will follow.
In the end, if you do not care why should the employees?
And if your culture doesn’t work – it doesn’t matter how good the new hire is… eventually “shit sticks”.
Its hard to believe the end of 2017 is racing towards us.
December – Advent Calendar time. And it’s the concept of preparation that strikes me today.
It seems as though a lot of changed during 2017 and that the pace of this change is getting ever faster. Yet some of the key issues we faced in 2017 haven’t actually gone away.
Finding and retaining good quality talent is just as relevant in the final few weeks of the year as it was at the beginning. In fact – if anything its more critical. The skills gap and shortage of tech talent is still there – It is time to listen to the rhetoric. In turbulent political and economic times it is challenging to find a way to plug the leak that is the high attrition rate amongst good staff. And yet when we break down what actually makes an employee stay – it would seem that Christmas is an excellent time to make a start on doing just that. Money is less important than you might think, (which is good in today’s climate!) and in the season of goodwill – it is easier to focus on giving – which for the most part is what contrbutes to an employee’s feelings of satisfaction at work.
So for today – in this festive season – let’s take a moment to review – to prepare – to make sure that 2018 truly does become the year that good people feel valued and appreciated at work.
Some key facts to consider:
IT professionals get twice as many recruitment mails than other professionals!
Contributing factors to employees leaving range from lack of career advancement to culture to lack of recognition. Money is a factor – but get the career aspiration loop right and recompense becomes a much smaller problem than you may think.
It costs your business about half an annual salary to find a replacement employee.
And those new employees are far less engaged and therefore more likely to move on faster which creates cultural uncertainty and higher stress in those remaining employees.
The bottom line is that there is very little point in having an excellent hiring strategy if you then forget all about the employee the minute they sign on the dotted line. Recruitment needs to come hand in hand with retention. And that strategy needs to fit your unique company culture. We know the talent is out there – but the competition is fierce. If your organisation won’t look after its key assets – someone else will!!
Have an optimal onboarding process
Promote your company culture
Develop Effective Leaders
Recognise and Reward
Train and Develop
Pay attention to top performers
Offer an attractive compensation package (think past purely salary here!)
Work – Life balance
Be honest about change
Foster good teamwork
How can the least diverse sector be the lead in changing the diversity paradigm?
Diversity (or lack of) is one of our key focus areas. Saxus is strongly committed to building a diverse future – with particular focus on cognitive diversity rather than the broad-brush gender /race / sexuality diversity of yesterday. A diversity based on true self rather than extrinsic factors…
This search for greater creativity and spark has led me through many thought processes and one in particularly is this:
HR is, quite possibly, one of the least diverse sectors in business. It is the one area of the C suite where women outnumber men. The majority of HR graduates are women…
Is this a case of women rising – or is this in fact a lack of diversity issue that we seem comfortable to ignore?
HR has historically been a “people-focussed” side of the business with a strong leaning towards administrations. Historically women have been the mainstay of secretarial functions and so the move to a career in HR has been an easy one. In fact, for many women the move to HR was clearly a step in the right direction – the pay was better, the career opportunities better and perhaps more importantly – the dinosaur (male) bosses of the 1970s were comfortable with women in this so called more “caring” profession. Today 73% of HR Managers are women. (source: 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics)
So – the real question here is… Is this a problem? The rise of women in the workforce is a good thing, the inclusion of greater numbers of women in the C suite can only be beneficial – and – let’s face it – historical work patterns do lead towards a gender bias in other professions (think nursing and teaching!). But if we have realised the need for less gender bias in these professions – then why are we still so secure with the world of HR being a female only zone?
HR is the gatekeeper to our organisations. If diversity breeds more creativity and productivity – then why wouldn’t your Human Resources department be the first place you look to change the status quo? Talk of diversity is cheap when the first people you interact with are not showing the way as role models themselves.
So, do we need to change?
Well I would argue that this is a resounding YES. Diversity is an all-encompassing factor in the way we improve all aspects of our world of work. A greater diversity in HR will filter through to the rest of organisation.
As with most things – the path to change starts with enlightenment – it’s about changing education and perceptions. A male nurse 20 years ago would have been a standout feature of medical care – now it’s just a healthcare professional.
Graduate programmes need to actively encourage men to consider a career in HR –and job descriptions need to show less gender bias. HR is not purely an admin role. It is strategic and critical to business success. After all, if we all agree that our people are critical to our organisation – then surely the department geared towards those people is an integral part of corporate success?
First impressions matter.
If diversity matters – then perhaps it’s time to change the face of HR?
There are 2 predominant schools of thought around the advent of AI – the positive value added approach: Humans X Process X Data = Increased Business Value
Vs The Chicken Licken thought process of “AI is stealing my job, AI is stealing my job”
Not forgetting those Ostriches amongst us who somehow believe that the advances in AI will have little to no impact on current jobs.
One way or another the landscape is changing. How well your company responds to that is very much down to how much agility is valued as a core skill set.
3 years ago Alexa was just a choice of baby name. In the coming years – naming your baby Alexa may not be so popular a choice – as Alexa is now in over 3 million homes, organising babysitters, booking holidays – and in many cases – being a “person” to chat to. Echo AI technology has improved user experiences – and is earning Amazon big bucks in the process. The Key in this is the fact that Alexa responds almost like a person. Alexa applies machine learning and algorithms to run queries through huge data sets almost instantaneously. Spotify applies the same logic – curating your very own DJ set based on previous choices.
Extrapolating that speed for business will surely guide towards better and more objective business outcomes.
Recent surveys by Accenture have highlighted the need for change in our own approaches with 85% of executives surveyed claiming to be investing in AI over the coming 5 years
So there is no doubt that the rise of AI will change the shape of the job market – especially for the lower skilled workforce. In order to safeguard against rising labor costs – automation becomes critical. Yet higher up the salary scale there are predictions of significant human skills shortages in the very area of robotics that is driving the change agenda. So it would seem that the key to AI success is not how to remove humans from the chain altogether, but how to embed them more effectively to participate in human-critical automation of the business, and in the search for novel business methods and models.
Perhaps the most urgent question we must answer is not one of the role of AI in our 21st century workforce but rather one of integration – and whether economics is purely driven by productivity and speed alone?
Used effectively AI has the potential to alter careers to fit a far more personal model. A more agile workforce – a more diverse workforce. But this requires a collaberation with machine learning to improve the human capability
Change is difficult at the best of times – but when the future is moving faster than we can predict it becomes an increasing challenge.
Maybe we should ask Alexa what to do next?
“If you’re constrained by classical, conventional wisdom on appointments in recruitment you’re never going to optimise the situation. You need people to bring different thought processes and challenge the system, you need a cognitive diversity”
Far too often , in work , and in life – we seek out people that validate ourselves. We look for the familiar, the mirror image. We cultivate (very often unconsciously!) a culture of “groupthink”. Corporations have bought into the commercial proposition that a diversity of gender, race, ethnicity and sexuality improves our workforce. Yet all to often we overlook the diversity of thought that could truly innovate within our workplaces.
Cognitive diversity means breaking away from the perceived norm of thought process; defined as differences in perspective or information processing styles.
Cognitively diverse organisations are more genuinely inclusive and collaborative places to work.
Tech is a classic example; when looking at the companies who are now positively recruiting individuals with Aspergers or on the Autistic Spectrum. These are companies who have recognised the power of “difference” – and are using these differently wired brains to enhance performance and innovation.
We do tend to recruit in our own image – its human nature to want to fit in. But this functional bias slows the process of innovation and performance down. In a time of huge disruption – agility is critical to staying ahead. If all our talent is only able to think in one way – we reach an impasse. Teams of cognitively similar teams may be great while situations are stable – but our digital world isn’t waiting.
A First rate Madness by S. Nasser Ghaemi explores the differences further still – looking at Politcal leaders with a history of mental illness. So called “healthy” leaders such as Tony Blair operated well during politically stable times – but compare that with Churchill and the crisis after crisis that required a mind more able to change on a sixpence.
Tips for better Cognitive Diversity
Change your recruitment process:
If we always do what we always did… then we always get what we always got. A cliché – but valid. Cognitive diversity is a far less obvious recruitment challenge. Many people do not come into an interview situation expecting to show how different they are to the organisation they want to work for – so searching out cognitive diversity is an obstacle in itself. Corporations and recruiters must work together to ensure that job descriptions and interview processes seek out competencies of those who are willing and able to challenge groupthink. Seek out talent from different pools, look for the curious, the open minded, the insightful. Don’t look for the mirror image of the rest of the team!
Perhaps consider using a recruitment algorithm to help reduce some of the natural human bias – use a diverse group of people to interview
Management needs to change to show that authenicity is welcome here. Generate an inclusive culture that empowers learning from everyone. Debate welcome here – challenge welcome here. Status quo no longer relevant. A manager that can enable employees to truly express themselves will encourage cognitively diverse and collaborative teams
Organisations must actively practice what they preach and positively promote differences in thinking styles across the corporation. This needs to be factored into career development and progression to back up the culture of true human diversity in real terms. Reward innovators and encourage disruptive thinking
For further reading take a look here:
The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies – Scott Page
Historically, “Flexible Working” has been seen of the domain of the working mother. Trying to return to a previous career – juggling work demands and the school run. It conjures up images of telephones in one hand and a screaming baby in the other. Harried women trying to “have it all”
Agility is a not a modern phenomenon – there has Always been the need to be able to do things differently – to maximise the opportunities that all elements of the workforce are able to offer, in a way and time that suits life. But more often than not, the stuffed shirts of the boardroom decided that change was not in fact a good thing, That innovation , god forbid, may actually increase productivity and perhaps mean change for themselves. And so we carried on doing what we always did.. and guess what…
The outbreak of the 2nd world war truly started a work revolt. Women were managing traditionally male dominated jobs and the home – and guess what – necessity truly was the mother of invention and this proved that looking at things differently still got the job done.
Back in those days the game of Women’s Football had a greater following than the mens…
But back then there were not the opportunities to practice genuine agility in the workplace. The modern technologies that we take for granted as a means to stay connected just didn’t exist. There was a genuine need to be always physically present at work.
But today we don’t have those restrictions. Technologies have moved on so much that there is a strong case for advocating more , not less, agile working. And before I become accused of too much femininism – there is no reason that this need to have a role that fits around the school run / life should continue to be the mainstay of women.
Surely the holy grail of work should be the ability to get the job done – in way that is most productive to the business whilst still allowing a high quality of life. A balance that leaves the employee empowered and ready to work during those “agile” hours?
So what does Agile Working mean?
Its an incredibly difficult definition to make – perhaps because quite simply there isn’t just one definer.
The RICS highlighted the fact that work is an activity, not a place – and that points us towards remote working – but it again it cant just be as simple as that. Some jobs do require you to be in a certain location..
So I would argue that Agile working isn’t just about time and space, its also about doing work differently, being more effective. Being outcome focussed rather than hours driven.
The Agile Future Forum whose aim is to provide leadership and practical support to disseminate agile working practices, considers these practices across the 4 dimensions of: time (when do people work?), location (where do people work?), role (what do people do?) and source (who carries out work?).
But however you choose to define it – the aim of agile working must surely be to ensure that you capture the most effective talent – utilising the right people, process, technology to ensure the most effective outcomes of a task.
Task Driven working – without restrictions as to how and where that is carried out.
It sounds amazing – and something we should all aspire to. Yet the concept of allowing more people to work in this more innovative way has been a slow burner. There is a reluctance to relinquish direct control over staff members – a fear that performance will drop without big brother peering through the office window. A reluctance to give up that concept of office “facetime” – the more hours I am here the better I must be.
This is an antiquated old school tie attitude – and one that needs vast readjustment. But like all leaps of faith – they require a degree of trust. Trust in your staff (which brings us back to the need to hire well!), trust in your technologies and trust in yourself.
By all accounts BT is trying to adopt a truly agile approach – they are using it in call centers – allowing carers to come back to work – in a virtual call center – sometimes even in shifts as short as 30 minutes. And they are finding it pays dividends. Ironically staff are now “working” longer hours – the need for “facetime” gone – and commuting down means that employees are actually able to devote more at work time.. to work. KPI performance has increased and employees are happier.
Plot this against the national return to work rate for mothers which sits at approximately 40%.. at BT that figure is over 90% – directly reported as being due to the adoption of agile working practices.
Sickness rates are down and the ability to employ a more diverse workforce is up. Stress related illness alone is reporting a 35% decrease. Cognitive diversity breeds innovation – and the ability to become a more socially inclusive employer brings business benefits and personal ones.
A side effect of this agility is also an improved carbon footprint. Sustainibility is high on the government agenda and BT has witnessed agility bring improve its sustainability.
But agility can’t happen all by itself. A company must have a cultural mindset that welcomes innovation and strong trust in its people. Cost per head – technology is cheaper than space – so business wise it makes financial sense to consider a different approach. Diversity improves innovation and empowered and engaged employees deliver far more when they are genuinely trusted to get on with task focused work.
And so on that note – I will stop working for my agile employers on a Tuesday night and sign off happily… (as Tuesday nights when the kids are in bed is a time and a place that works for me… Task completed, no boundaries!!)
Total Talent Management is the current avant-garde of recruitment. The next method of competitive advantage. Everyone jostling for the “best” and most “talented” candidates and implementing benefit and reward schemes to ensure they retain their loyalty and dedication (Hardly a light bulb moment in the evolution of employee / employer relations).
But here is the thing. Not everyone is or can be the BEST.
In fact – the vast majority of us cannot, by default be the most talented.
So – given that this is an absolute – how can companies and recruitment alike – possibly begin to align the search for the best candidate with the population of potential employees that exist.
Talent scarcity is a big concern for the C-suite. Put simply – there are currently not enough people with the right skills / experience ready to step into roles. The supposed / perceived talent gap is driving the need for a shift in traditional recruitment and retention strategies to a more innovative and employee focused approach
So given that there is not enough Talent (or even that Talent in itself is not enough) – the future of talent management, at least in some part, must lie in truly understanding our employees in order to unlock potential; what motivates them, what is important to them?
What is needed is agility, connectivity, speed and cognitive diversity. The ability to respond in an ever shifting environment. Business must change – not just to take in the demands of the so called 4th industrial revolution, but also to reflect the changing workforce demographics and expectations of today and tomorrow.
It’s time to rethink what Talent management actually entails:
The Mercer Talent Trends review for 2017 raises some critical new perspectives for the age of disruption
The future of business is transformation. Evolution has already occurred – in order to stay ahead the pace of change needs to be rapid, efficiency increased and customer experience improved. And somehow – in this whirlwind of advancement – the focus on People within the organisation needs to stay high to ensure that the growth is sustainable.
93 % of businesses are planning to effect organisational change within the next 2 years – replacing the traditional vertical top down approach with a more streamlined and customer focused horizontal structure. This removes some of the more formal management roles and requires greater autonomy and critical thinking among employees.
Redesign is critical to success and having a solid “decision science” behind this will ensure that the new job roles accurately reflect the needs of agility, innovation and simplicity. As many of the new roles have no precedent – they need to be outlined via business contribution rather than specific “job spec” language. Changing job evaluation methodology has to be a key focus for TTM to assist with the change process.
Digital is what is pushing this change agenda – yet the vast majority of businesses do not feel they are a “digital company”. Most corporations have focussed on the external process first leaving the employee experience for later. Yet in the ever shifting world where talent is in short supply this is a short sighted and risky approach to take.
A corporate “culture” is not a new premise. Far from it. What has shifted is that it is now no longer good enough to have a one size fits all approach to corporate culture. Gone is the narrow focus of company engagement – instead enter the world of employee experience. By this we mean a tailored approach, a person centric holistic view of the individual employee. A list of standard global perks and benefits is outdated and does not cater for the changing demands of the employee. Yet this is where the digital age can truly come into its own. Greater flexibility in working practices is becoming far easier to balance with corporate strategies due to technological advances. Think real-time workforce apps and career matching!
However there is still work to be done – many employees still report concerns that so called flexible working is perceived as a perk rather than as a means of optimising individual circumstances to bring about maximum return for everyone. It is estimated that 75% of the worlds workforce will be Millennials by 2025 – if you do not change with the times and cater for the needs of the many then you will become part of the problem.
True personalisation of the employee experience needs to include more than just a benefits package. Businesses need to consider the health, wealth and career path of their talent. Nurture and reward a culture of “work working for you” and utilise technology to act as a differentiator for your business.
Given the shift in a one size fits all approach to corporate culture, it is no surprise that a change in how employees are rewarded is also on the cards. Whilst the old guard of fair and competitive pay and career opportunities still rank highly with employees, these are no longer the only way to reward and recognise contribution.
A climate of uncertainty is leading many employees to re-evaluate where and how they want to work. Corporate values are often measured via its performance management and rewards scheme and as such 83 % of companies have made / planning to make changes to their goal setting processes.
Exactly how rewards are calculated seems to be up for debate – but transparency about the metrics seems to be critical. Whether your performance ratings are numerical or verbal seems to matter less than a forward progressive approach to career development. The basics still count. A fair and transparent contractual reward system coupled with clear individual and team performance metrics. Add to this a greater clarity of information dissemination about career progression and further opportunity / reward for greater performance and it would seem that the ability to reward fairly and positively is on chart for effective change in 2017
The sheer amount of real-time data available is greater today than ever before. Yet despite this wealth of information the progress towards “predictive” analysis is still slow. Mercer reports that almost 1 in 4 companies are still only generating basic talent management descriptive reports and historical trend analysis.
Deloitte Human Capital Trends report echoes this feeling. Highlighting a mere 8% of respondents using tools such as Organisational Network Analysis (ONA) to help inform better growth and redesign.
Properly done, Talent Analysis has the capacity to drive employee performance by providing the evidence that underpins talent management and business decisions. Given the rapid speed of corporate change, the ability to utilise talent data will not only help minimise the risk of talent loss, low productivity and engagement but also ensure corporations are better placed to plan for the workplace of the future.
As part of providing a fully integrated TTM service we must help corporations view talent through a different lens, to help them discover the potential and untapped skills in their existing employees.
The talent is there – the process of evaluating and developing it needs to evolve!
With the departure of Oliver Robbins from Dexeu- the stage is set for some interesting times ahead.
The upheavals that seem to follow the government in relation to how we actually exit the EU shows no sign of abating – and with the alleged disagreements between David Davis and Oliver Robbins still rumbling – this most recent change in the strategists of Brexit shows that disagreement at the highest level has the capacity to throw yet more chaos into our exit discussions
And why should this link to a theme of common values??
Well – Britain voted against a shared vision. Rightly or wrongly remains to be seen – but tide of community spirit seems to be on the way out – in politics and in business.
Our nation, and others, are becoming increasingly disillusioned with togetherness, with community, with common values – and I believe this is bad for everyone.
The more we are only out for ourselves – the more disillusioned we feel. And its easier to blame others – to raise immigration and benefits as the culprits.
To blame a lack of “talent” for not being the best company..
But I believe its more basic than that.
A shared vision, a team – for whatever purpose is immensely satisfying. It provides a sense of fulfilment and motivation over and above monetary gains.
And perhaps this is where our zero working hours Britain is going wrong.
When a business (and a nation) are only thinking about whats in it for them – they breed suspicion and divisiveness.
When everyone is working together – great things are achieved.
Utopian ideals? Maybe so – but the sharing of a common mission / value can lead to places we have only dreamed of.
Take a look at the Best Places to work 2017 report… it makes for interesting reading. I am not seeing too many of those companies reporting the secret to success was winning the “war on talent”..
Instead there are, time and again, reports of togetherness, shared culture, vision – being more than just a place to work!!
“Work has a moral and social significance. It gives us all a reason for being. It gives us dignity, pride and self-esteem” Mike Brown Chief Exec bdht
Common values are good for business – but they are more important for us as humans.
Lets use a shared value approach in more aspects of our lives – and see how “being in this together” is actually a better model for business.
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