Business & Talent. Aligned.

How you manage talent spells the difference between success and failure. To gain a competitive edge, leaders must be prepared to address shifting economic, social and demographic trends that impact workforce performance. Stay informed with research, insights and advice from our leading industry experts. The world of work is changing. Is your company ready?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Contingency Plan

As business leaders continue to be conservative with investments in talent, utilization of contingent, temporary and flexible workers continues to grow.

As many as 41% of employers have used more independent contractors over the past two years, according to recent survey of 430 senior human resource executives conducted by Right Management.

Nearly all companies are re-examining their talent management practices in order to align their workforce with their business strategy. This has required a behavioral shift that includes the greater flexibility afforded by independent contractors.

Many of the contractors eventually become full-time employees. But just as many workers these days prefer their independence and organizations must accommodate the goals of these people to stay competitive in the marketplace. Flexibility employment practices will help to attract the best and brightest talent available.

Individual employees want flexibility – in how, where and when they work. And employers are adjusting their human resource policies and practices to meet this demand. We also asked survey respondents if their organization had seen an increase in flexible working practices over the past year. Twenty-three percent said “Yes, a lot” and 54% said “Yes, somewhat.” Only 22% said no.

Such HR policies and practices are on the increase. One study reports that as many as 85% of organizations have flexible practices in place for employees. These might be more flexible work hours, telecommuting, or even a greater use of temporary or contingent workers for specific projects or short-term assignments. Companies that create more flexible options for workers typically foster higher levels of engagement and commitment, as well as build their brands in order to attract the best talent available in the market.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Some Employers Find It Hard to Fill Jobs

Despite high unemployment and the sluggish job market, 23% of employers often find it difficult to hard to fill key jobs, according to recent research we conducted with over 700 firms across the U.S. Moreover, another 64% find it hard occasionally.

The findings reflect the challenge organizations always face when it comes to bringing in top talent. HR professionals know that whether it’s a weak or strong job market finding and recruiting certain key people are a demanding process. Moreover, the difficulty varies according to job level, industry, requisite skills among other things.

The survey also found that qualified internal candidates are scarce. Only 3% of respondents said they have an ample leadership pipeline to cover most of their needs. And the majority of 80% relies on a combination of internal talent development and select external hiring. As many as 17% routinely look externally before filling critical roles in the organization.

Virtually no employer feels confident of his or her own management pipeline. Management ranks are very lean, and nobody should be stunned by this reality, not after the organizational streamlining that’s taken place over the past two years. Now companies find themselves not just short-handed, but also fearful of the loss of their top performers. The year ahead holds great promise, but there will also be serious talent management challenges for organizations of all sizes.

Organizations with scarce talent management resources need a different strategy to secure the right talent for key contributors and pivotal leadership positions within the firm. Without this focus, an organization risks losing even more top performers, as these types of positions typically have greater scope and influence over other positions within the firm.

Without a well-constructed succession planning system for rapid replacement of key roles, and more broadly, a well aligned succession management plan to ensure firm-wide talent progression, organizations are highly exposed to risks of underperformance and further loss of talent.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Prevailing Winds of “Cautious Optimism”

Do you feel like some days you are taking one step forward and two step backwards? For every economic prognosticator, there seems to be equal parts optimism and pessimism, and the stock market follows suit. Well, that’s because many leaders seem to be approaching this year with cautious optimism. In fact, recent research we conducted told us that 58% of senior leaders believe this year will be one of caution with limited hiring and renewed investment in talent development.

Like most people, employers aren’t sure what to expect in the year ahead. So it’s not surprising the survey findings reflect this uncertainty with a majority hedging their bets and expressing caution. The rest of the respondents seem fairly evenly divided between optimists and pessimists, with some 22% believing it will be a year of growth and recovery marked by increased hiring and new talent development initiatives and a further 16% believing it will be similar to 2010 with sluggish hiring and postponed HR initiatives. Very few (3%), however, anticipate more cutbacks and restructurings.

There is at least one positive sign of corporate confidence. Four out of five employers plan to renew or step up their investment in developing talent, a hopeful sign organizations are shifting their 2011 focus from cost-containment to growth.

And the source of real growth comes down to the quality of the talent in your organization. Talent, and the unique culture it creates, is the main source of competitive advantage and is becoming the only real source of sustainable differentiation. Having a solid, relevant talent strategy is the greatest enabler to delivering on business goals.

Executing strategic initiatives and delivering on near term bottom-line business goals are absolutely dependent upon a firm’s ability to manage talent better than their competition does. Aligning talent with business goals, through an integrated talent management strategy, is imperative to delivering on growth objectives.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Worker Insecurity Could Be Harming Productivity

Despite signs the economy is steadily improving, most employees feel less secure in their jobs compared to a year ago. According to our research as many as 71% of workers reported they are less secure in their job than last year, while 14% feel just as secure and 15% more secure.

This research finding surprised us. We really expected a more optimistic outlook by employees. In fact, we thought most respondents would tell us they were feeling at least as secure as a year ago now that it appears the recession is well past its depth. But it seems it will take more time for people to get over the trauma of the long downturn, and job security is probably the sort of indicator that lags behind any good news.

As further evidence, Manpower’s second quarter Employment Outlook projects that 74% of employers plan no staffing changes. With only 16% of companies expecting to hike hiring, and just 6% foreseeing any staffing decreases, it seems the word just isn’t getting through or that employers have been overly reticent about communicating their staffing plans with their employee base.

Persistent workplace unease can pose challenges for employers. Savvy leaders know that such widespread deep anxiety is no good for the organization in the long run. In order for employees to do their best they need to have a sense they’re valued by their organizations and engaged in a worthwhile pursuit. Top management has to address the job security issue head on, and communicate to workers what their role is in the organization’s future success.

Productivity may suffer when workers are busy with “water cooler” discussions, rumor mills and looking for a new job on your time-clock. The best thing a leader can do to promote security and confidence is to communicate regularly and with authenticity and candor. Most people feel greater confidence when they know they are dealing with the truth.

When was the last time you checked in on how your employees are feeling?