A quiet revolution is brewing in the workplace. On one side are traditional business leaders – established executives and managers, many of whom put their jobs above all else and progressively ascend the corporate ladder. These traditionalists tend to expect respect from their employees and count on unwavering commitment to the company.
On the other side are today’s young talent, many of them millennials and members of Generation Z. They equally want to progress in their careers, but they want to be embraced as individuals, not disposable commodities. They will respect those who respect them. They hope to use their unique abilities and entrepreneurial spirit to deliver value to the company. To do that, they want ownership, variety, and space to shine. They desire autonomy and flexibility as well as the opportunity to be creative. And these talented individuals want to determine when and how they work. After all, their lives are important.
Personnel solutions for the intelligent enterprise
Engaging these resources and harnessing their skills requires new systems and technologies that manage the total workforce. Intelligent enterprises use analytics to assess the skills available in the workforce and suggest qualified candidates for new job openings. By using artificial intelligence to pattern-match resumes, companies can quickly, and potentially more accurately, identify qualified candidates from inside or outside the organization, bringing the necessary skills to create new growth.
More programs are being introduced to retain talent such as part-time work, job-sharing, flex-time, and remote work. In addition, I know of one company that maintains a register of top talent employee and management skills. They use this knowledge to rotate both young talent and future leaders through different assignments – a strategy used by the armed forces.
This approach is beneficial on many fronts. Workers rarely get bored. They get the opportunity to challenge themselves, experience jobs in different departments, and gain broader knowledge. Leaders stay sharp and are constantly challenging themselves by dealing with unfamiliar situations. Ultimately, the business benefits thanks to more well-rounded, happier employees.
Analytics can help managers measure the outcomes of specific personnel policies. With that insight, they can better develop and align HR policy and strategy with business goals and current market trends. The external workforce is over 40% on average for most companies, which means it is critical to find a way to manage holistically.
Some advanced HR solutions can support employee learning and development, using career-planning and succession programs to identify knowledge gaps or compliance requirements. Companies gain the advantage of more knowledgeable workers and managers. Employees can broaden their horizons and develop new skills. Managers can develop soft skills in leading a diverse workforce. Advanced HR solutions can help enterprises to create individualized plans and actions that match workforce needs, therefore, increasing employee productivity and engagement.
In countries such as the U.S., which is currently near full employment, identifying and hiring the right talent can be difficult. Advanced workforce management solutions should provide a clear view of all resources – including management, employees, contractors, freelancers, interns, and even alumni – in your workforce ecosystem. You might even consider hiring individuals out of retirement. There is a growing trend in this area with examples in Asia and Europe.
When an employee leaves to work for another firm, it can seem like a loss. But if that person later returns with new experience and exposure to another company’s practices, that adds valuable richness to your organization. Solutions are available today that help organizations build and maintain relationships with their alumni.
Similarly, when employees want to undertake a secondary activity that does not conflict, but rather augments their current role, this only serves to enrich the organization as a whole. Supporting them in these endeavors could yield any number of benefits: a greater understanding of specific industry processes, valuable professional contacts, even sales leads.
Less control, greater returns
We talk a lot about retooling and reskilling the workforce to enable people to be valuable and productive in the digital era. But often we neglect to discuss the role of management in the process. Do we have leaders for our younger generation? Or are we simply attracting interns and recent graduates, only to turn them off with management tactics that are low in emotional intelligence? Or worse still, do we let them go because they don’t conform to their manager’s dated standards?
Each generation brings change to the workforce. If senior management doesn’t recognize how to adapt or is not open enough to this challenge, the outcome is predictable. Employees will find their needs met elsewhere, which will ultimately impact shareholder value and the ongoing evolution of the company. The real winners will be companies that challenge their long-held ideas about workforce management, listen to their people, and embrace modern approaches to attracting, hiring, contracting, and retaining personnel.
It may seem counterproductive to loosen the reins and allow individuals to exercise more control over their working environment. However, the youngest generation of workers expects this from employers – as they focus on equally high standards themselves. In return for openness, collaboration, and trust, employees can pay you back with interest. Those leaders ready to earn (not demand) the trust and respect of talent and commit to leading (instead of managing) will draw the best people to work for them.
By giving workers the freedom to deliver value to your company, you can inspire people to work for you enthusiastically, which can only help your business grow. From my perspective, that’s a classic win-win situation. After all, people are what make a company.
For more on employee engagement strategies, see “Culture: Key To Understanding The ROI Of A Purpose-Driven Business.”