21 Apr Are you ready to play the new talent management game?
Two new comprehensive studies of trends shaping the future workforce have recently been issued by the Hudson Institute and The Rand Corporation – both respected think tanks on economic, political and social issues. Both reports strongly suggest that the challenges of managing talent are about to change dramatically as a result of global demographic and economic trends that are starting to gain momentum. The result will be a vastly different corporate environment and workforce.
For the complete documents see: “Beyond Workforce 2020: The Coming (and Present) International Market for Labor” http://www.well.com/user/portante/beyondworkforce2020.pdf and “The 21st Century at Work: Forces Shaping the Future Workforce and Workplace in the United States” http://www.rand.org/publications/MG/MG164/.
The Hudson Institute study finds that the era of the international labor market is upon us and that immigration has and will continue to change the demographic makeup of America. It also predicts that a slowdown in the growth of the population and workforce in the developed world will intensify the need to tap into different and growing sources of international labor. The fiscal impacts of aging populations and declining workforces in developed countries will also heighten the need for labor immigrants. The US has an advantage in attracting an above average share of the most educated and skilled talent from around the world and our future economic health depends on maintaining this competitive edge.
The 365-page Rand Corporation identifies three major factors that are expected to shape the world of work in the coming decades: shifting demographic patterns, the pace of technological change, and the path of economic globalization. It draws similar conclusions to the Hudson Institute study. In terms of demographics, the US workforce over the next ten years will take on an hourglass shape in age distribution – wide in the oldest (45+) and youngest (under 30) categories of workers and thin across the middle (31-44). Gender participation will become roughly equal. Immigration will make the workplace more diverse. Technology will continue to improve workplace productivity, increase demand for highly skilled workers and distribute work not just within the US but across the entire world. Globalization of capital, knowledge, labor and trade will continue to grow and widen to encompass more of the world’s countries. Global economic integration and interdependence will increase.
These trends mean that the talent management equation will soon begin to change enormously, confronting HR executives and corporate leaders with at least five critical challenges:
1. Keeping Boomers in the workforce longer – The graying of the workforce has been predicted for years. But now it’s almost here. Some companies already face having half their work force reach retirement age in the next 3-5 years. Can you afford to lose all their knowledge and expertise? Are you equipped to offer retirement age Boomers the kind of work environment and flexibility they need to make them want to stay?
2. Managing intergenerational work teams – The only source of workforce growth in the U.S. over the next decade and a half will be workers under 30 and over 49. Workers in between are projected to shrink by 3 million. What are your plans and policies for attracting and motivating such diverse groups? How will you get them to work together productively?
3. Embracing (finally) workforce cultural, ethnic and racial diversity – This is a huge challenge for corporations with Wonder-bread like leadership. Companies will need to find ways to increase diversity throughout their organizations – both across and up the hierarchy. Old boy, country-club style management and corporate cultures simply won’t work anymore. Are you ready to stop merely paying lip service to diversity and to really change recruiting, development and promotion practices as the US Army did throughout the 1980s and 1990s?
4. Prudently importing workers and exporting work – The emphasis of immigration and offshoring should be on long-term strategic fit not cost savings. Jobs and labor will continue to move bi-directionally as economics and demographics shift. Are you ready for and capable of managing a globally diverse and dispersed workforce?
5. Managing more non-employee workers – Whether contractors or employees of outsourcing providers, managers will need to learn how to direct and motivate workers without traditional ties or bonds to the organization. Contractual and competitive mechanisms are necessary but not sufficient to get top performance out of third-party and independent workers. Rapid inculcation and knowledge transfer are critical to success. Do you have the management systems and expertise to offer and successfully manage non-standard work arrangements?
Global change is making talent management once again a core competency for all companies, not merely the most progressive ones. Are you ready to play the new talent management game?
Tony DiRomualdo is a business researcher, writer, and advisor with Next Generation Consulting. He works at the intersection of people, business strategy, and information technology to help companies create a committed and high performance workforce. Tony can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.