As the story develops, it is clear that there are a number of significant factors that, while having existed for some time, are converging with potentially dramatic impact on how the American workforce is developed and managed. To reinforce this, this morning I came across a post by Lou Adler at ERE.net called "Is the Current Corporate Recruiting Department Model Doomed?" It's a great read, and I recommend you give it some time and, if you are so inclined, take in some of the hour-long presentation that is linked within the post.
The point for this entry, however, is that Lou's words reinforced for me that this suspected convergence is indeed a reality, and it is necessary for those who depend on talent to accomplish objectives to take note.
Notice in my last sentence that I did not say recruiters or HR should take note. Rather, I suggested that "those who depend on talent" should be aware of what is happening. And this is the first, and perhaps most important point. Today, perhaps more so than ever before in the American economy, it is crucial that an organization's culture be aligned around talent. Aligned and committed to increasing the collaborative work across departments, divisions, and disciplines to ensure that the quality of the workforce is not only high but precisely positioned to drive even the smallest contributing factor to the overall strategic goal of the company.
So what other elements are converging to hopefully eliminate the talent deficit, which, in a worse case scenario, grows unchecked when economic recovery finally shows its long-lost face? At the moment, there are four to be considered:
- Cultural communication re-alignment. Since the early part of the 2000s and the coining of the phrase Web 2.0, the way we communicate has shifted dramatically. The tools themselves are important, of course, but even more important is to understand that this massive realignment of how we communicate is ultimately a cultural shift. This shift places demands upon employers to participate at a much more discrete and personal level. (NOTE: I do some volunteer work with small businesses in Philadelphia, and I recently spoke about this Cultural Communication Re-alignment. While the perspective I took then is a little varied from our discussion on this blog, I think the example provided might help give some perspective to what we are talking about here.)
- Scenario-driven workforce strategy. Last month we shared a podcast with Dr. Peter Cappelli, George W. Taylor Professor of Management at The Wharton School, and Director of Wharton's Center for Human Resources. Cappelli's work focuses on the natural efficiencies of talent management that are becoming more akin to traditional supply chain management. He discusses the need to scenario plan the most likely situations during the fiscal year and map out preparations that allow those scenarios to be addressed from a talent perspective.
- Maturing candidate market oriented recruiting. In my opinion, this is where Lou Adler's post fits. Understanding and truly defining, as discretely as possible, the targeted candidate market is something that firms have never had to do with as much detail as they do today. The natural and personal nature of workforce engagement begins before employees begin working for a company. This places a burden on traditional recruiting models and introduces a discipline -- marketing -- that might feel unnatural to traditional recruiting.
- Increased contract labor dependency. The study we released going into 2011 on the composition of the workforce showed an increased dependency on contract labor of all sorts. Moreover, the study also suggested that these levels will not decrease in better economic times, but increase instead. Organizations are struggling with how to handle a more diversely composed workforce, which can naturally affect the way these disparate teams work together to achieve the goals of the organization.
The time to sort out how you are responding to these four factors is now. The talent deficit that Matt is writing about, while perhaps not too terribly big due to the economic environment, is real. And it will grow when employment numbers improve. Firms that do not understand how these four elements are converging will be poorly prepared to do anything about the talent deficit they might encounter -- a situation that could have dramatically negative consequences.