Fixing The Skills Gap By Training Your Own

We are nearing full employment in many parts of the U.S. and older workers are beginning to retire in record numbers. Finding skilled talent to fill the jobs that Baby Boomers held and perfected for years may be an insurmountable task for some employers. The pipelines that traditionally supplied skilled workers to companies have simply run dry due to changing attitudes among Millennials and the gradual decline of trade schools and technical education programs in high schools.

To fix the skills gap – which transcends industries - employers are taking matters into their own hands and developing internal apprenticeship programs. These specialized training platforms – part classroom, part on-the-job training - have successfully produced new, highly skilled employees for a variety of functions, including alarm company technicians, welders, medical assistants, warehouse workers, and engineers. They have also enabled companies, large and small, to build highly customized competencies, skills and behaviors that match their unique talent needs.

If you are curious about this approach, HR Magazine has a great article on the topic this month. You are also welcome to contact me directly with questions.

Closing the Skills Gap in Manufacturing

The Manufacturing industry is experiencing an unprecedented labor shortage and the problem is about to worsen. According to a recent study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, Baby Boomer retirements coupled with economic expansion are predicted to result in two million manufacturing jobs going unfulfilled over the next decade.

Manufacturing will be heavily reliant on the Millennial generation to replace its aging workforce but faces significant hurdles, such as misperceptions about the industry as lacking in innovation and career opportunity. In fact, manufacturing ranks last as a career choice among Americans ages 19-33. The lack of skilled talent for the highly technical jobs needed in modern manufacturing compounds the issue. A decline in technical education in American high schools and a dearth of trade schools has created a drastic shortage of available, qualified talent.

To close the skills gap in manufacturing and to become employers of choice among Millennials, companies will need to follow these Five Strategies for Attracting & Keeping Younger Workers.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

 

Nonprofit Boards & The Generational Divide

The events and situations that each generation experiences play a significant role in shaping values, views and practices toward philanthropy. As nonprofit leaders struggle to engage up to four generations on their boards, communication and interactions related to giving, governance, decision making processes, and issues of succession will be challenged. This will require a paradigm shift in how nonprofit boards are structured and managed.

Understanding the characteristics, motivations and values of the different generations is vital to bridging generational divides and working toward common objectives within nonprofit boards. To learn how to bridge the divides among your board's directors, download my whitepaper, "Bridging the Generational Divide Within Nonprofit Boards," or contact me directly.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

10 Pitfalls to Avoid in Succession Planning

Many executives, HR professionals and boards embark on succession planning thinking it is a straightforward, finite process in which candidates are assessed and selected for predetermined roles. On the contrary, succession planning is one of the more complex and nuanced aspects of human capital management. It is not something that you can codify or get done in one sitting.

Succession planning is a focused program of keeping talent in the pipeline for the evolving roles that matter most to companies for the future. With thoughtful dialogue and participation, succession planning can be one of the most effective tools for leadership development and business growth. When handled poorly, it can be a waste of time and other precious organizational resources.

To succeed with your company's succession planning efforts, download my new whitepaper, "10 Pitfalls to Avoid When Embarking on Succession Planning". You can also join me for a webcast, 21 st Century Succession Planning - Growing Your High Potential Pipeline for the Roles That Matter Most, on Wednesday, February 22.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Become an Employer of Choice in 2017

Twenty years ago, the top company in Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies To Work For” list was Southwest Airlines. Contrast this to 2016 and Google held the top spot while Southwest Airlines disappeared from the list altogether.

To be an Employer of Choice in the New Economy, organizations must understand that the talent landscape has evolved dramatically and that the person determining whether a company is an Employer of Choice has changed. Millennials now represent the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. Their expectations -- for diversity, transparency, collaborative work cultures, fluid organizational structures, flexible work environments, and positive social atmospheres -- are challenging most companies’ workplace norms. And just as important, other generations, having been introduced to these concepts and to the Millennials’ incredible demographic influence, are adopting these expectations.

It is critical that companies recognize the changing talent landscape and adopt new methods for attracting and engaging employees. To understand what it takes to become an Employer of Choice in 2017 download my new whitepaper, “Becoming An Employer of Choice In The New Economy – 3 Strategies For Creating Your Competitive Advantage,” or feel free to contact me directly for more information.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

 

Fixing the Skills Gap

In the United States, the demand for educated, skilled workers is quickly outpacing the supply. By 2025, the country will require 11 million more postsecondary credentials than it is currently on track to produce. This deficit impacts employers and job seekers alike and has lasting consequences for our local, national and global communities. 

To help reverse this trend, the Interchange Group is donating funds this holiday season to Scholarship America, a non-profit whose mission is to make postsecondary education possible for all students. Scholarship America works directly with students, parents, colleges, businesses and communities to help students complete their education beyond high school with manageable debt. Since it was founded in 1958, the organization has distributed $3.5 billion to more than 2.2 million students. 

I encourage you to choose a cause to support this holiday season that is meaningful to you.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Leading Through Uncertainty

We are living in uncertain, polarizing times. And, while it is understandable that political leadership takes the spotlight, we must not overlook the challenging realities that our organizational leaders are facing. Economic uncertainty, generational shifts, and socially polarizing opinions in the workforce will dominate the narrative for companies in 2017. People leaders at all levels of the organization will be subject to increased stakeholder scrutiny (from employees, boards of directors, consumers and governmental and community groups) and almost constant change. 

Leading through uncertainty requires a highly evolved set of skills and competencies. To understand what traits are most critical for your people leaders, download my white paper The Top 10 Competencies Your Chief People Officer Must Possess, or contact me directly. Your organization's ability to demonstrate proficiency in these leadership attributes will determine the success of your business in 2017 and beyond. 

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

The Top 5 Drivers of Engagement

Millennials will soon comprise 50% of the U.S. workforce. As a result, they will set the tone and influence workplace practices for the foreseeable future. To determine the best strategies for engaging top talent, we must look to this generation for insight. Using Millennials as the norm, here are the top five drivers of employee engagement.
  1. Transparency of Information – Millennials require companies to be transparent with information in order to work effectively in their jobs and make decisions about their careers.
  2. Connection to the Corporate Strategy – Millennials need line of sight to the business strategy to perform in their jobs well, and to understand that their work has a purpose.
  3. Visibility – Millennials stay engaged when they get exposure to senior executives who are driving the strategy and who have their own experiences to share.
  4. Opportunity – Millennials are driven by opportunities to advance in their careers and to develop professionally. 
  5. Personalized Recognition – Millennials expect to participate in programs and receive rewards that are personalized and that recognize them for their time and efforts. 
Millennials will challenge employers to engage them in drastically different ways than their predecessors. In return, they will provide many of the necessary competencies and experiences necessary for companies to survive and thrive in the New Economy.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

The Post Millennial Workforce

As companies struggle to acclimate and flex to the Millennial generation’s ideals and behaviors in the workplace, many are also realizing that they must ready themselves for the next generation of employees that is fast approaching. The values and characteristics of this emerging cohort will begin to shape the workplace of the future within the next five years. Companies that ready themselves now for this new influx of talent will have the competitive advantage for years to come.  

Demographers use a variety of names to refer to the Post Millennial generation - Generation Z, The Pluralists, the Homeland Generation - but none of these titles has yet to stick. And while it is clear that the members of this generation will be the most technologically savvy in history, most of their other traits have yet to crystalize. To learn about the predictions for this upcoming generation and the implications for the workplace, download my whitepaper, “The Post Millennial Workforce,” or feel free to contact me directly for more information.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

The Top 10 Competencies for Your Chief People Officer

Over the past 15 years, I have worked with hundreds of Chief People Officers (CPOs) in a variety of industries and companies. I have also helped CEO’s hire for these critical roles, roles that have the power to significantly alter the performance and competitive advantage of a business. 

There has been a seismic shift in the way executives think about people, culture and workplace practices. They have come to understand that exceptional “People” leadership and systems are levers of operational and financial excellence. As a result, there is growing recognition that the background, skills and competencies of the CPO position are vital components to the success of the business as a whole, and that an alarmingly high percentage of current HR/People leaders do not possess what it takes to lead their companies into the future.

Companies require -- and deserve -- a highly evolved set of skills and competencies from their human capital leaders. To understand what traits are most critical, download my new white paper The Top 10 Competencies Your CPO Must Possess, or contact me directly.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

The Top 10 Most Promising Jobs for Millennials

The class of 2016 has graduated. And while some have secured employment, many are still weighing their options. According to a recent Fortune Magazine article, the most promising jobs for Millennials include some surprising contenders: 

  1. Physician Assistants
  2. Actuaries
  3. Statisticians
  4. Biomedical Engineers
  5. Computer & Information Research Scientists
  6. Market Research Analysts & Marketing Specialists
  7. Nuclear Engineers
  8. Elevator Installers & Repairers
  9. Petroleum Engineers
  10. Therapists

The list in unexpected, and challenges conventional views on what “opportunity” means. But for companies that are struggling to find and keep Millennial talent, it represents significant clues as to what Millennials need and want from employers this year. 

For more insight into what drives Millennials, download my whitepaper, 7 Secrets to Working with Millennials or contact me directly.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Meet Your Millennial Manager, Part 3 - Performance Management

This is the last in a 3-part series on Millennials as managers. Part 1 covered Millennials as hiring managers.  Part 2 offered strategies for communicating with Millennial managers. This post address Millennial managers and performance management.

Millennials see the conventional annual or semi-annual performance review as static and one-directional. As managers, they will replace existing performance management processes with real-time goal setting and feedback loops using technology that allows for multi-directional, multi-level, and often transparent comments about the performance of an individual, team or manager. This will be challenging for both staff and HR professionals from older generations, who will have to adapt to new performance metrics, collaborative feedback channels, and different compensation and advancement protocols.

Millennials also believe that the 9-5 construct of work is dead. The workplace of the past is one where productivity is measured by the number of hours you sit at your desk. To Millennials, the future of work requires a high degree of flexibility – from the employee and the manager. This means fluid working hours, technology that enables remote work, and relationships that extend beyond the office. For Baby Boomer and Generation X employees who have spent their careers conforming to fixed hours and mindsets about performance, this will take an enormous adjustment in thinking and scheduling.

Millennials now comprise the largest generation in the U.S. workforce and are rising in rank. The world of management -- and all of its conventional wisdom -- is about to be turned on its head. For more insight into this sea change, download my new white paper Meet Your Millennial Manager – A Survival Guide for Older Generations, or contact me directly.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Meet Your Millennial Manager, Part 2 - Communication

In response to recent requests, I am providing a 3-part series of guidelines for Generation Xers and Baby Boomers who report to Millennial managers. The first in the series offered older generations insight into Millennials as hiring managers.  This post covers communicating with your Millennial manager. 

Communication breakdowns between Millennial Managers and their older direct reports are often the result of a difference in the definition of “initiative.” For Gen Xers and Boomers, taking initiative means “figuring it out” on one’s own, without having to rely on or involve others. Removing one’s boss from the weeds and any unnecessary details, meetings and decisions demonstrates strategic thinking and high performance. In contrast, Millennials equate taking initiative with asking questions and collaboratively engaging one’s boss. As bosses, Millennials expect their direct reports to regularly (as in daily, if not hourly) update them on projects and include them in decision-making. 

Older generation employees will have to revisit the meaning of effective employee-supervisor communication and learn to collaborate more closely with their Millennial managers to keep them in the loop. For most, this will be a challenging but valuable exercise.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Meet your Millennial Manager, Part 1 - The Interview

For the past 10 years, the world of work has struggled to make sense of Millennial employees. But what happens when Millennials are the managers, responsible for hiring and supervising older generations? 

Welcome to Part 1 of a 3-part series that introduces Generation Xers and Baby Boomers to Millennials as managers and provides practice guidance for working with and for them.

Let’s start with the interview.

Baby Boomer and Generation X candidates walk away from interviews with Millennial hiring managers perplexed, if not downright offended. Education and experience – the pillars of professional credibility and financial worth for decades – are not highly prized by Millennial recruiters. Instead, the emphasis is on what you know, how you think, and whether you are the right cultural fit for the company and team. What Millennial hiring managers really want to vet during an interview is whether the candidate has a knowledge of current and emerging trends for the job, demonstrates an ability and willingness to learn new skills quickly, and relates well to them. Millennials will immediately tune out to candidates who tout degrees, long tenures, and past knowledge. Know-it-alls need not apply.

Millennials now comprise the largest generation in the U.S. workforce and are rising in rank. The world of management – and all of its conventional wisdom - is about to be turned on its head. Are you ready?

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

The Secret Tool of Culture Change

An effective New Employee Orientation (NEO) ensures the retention and acculturation of new hires. This is particularly important for Millennials, who rank learning the corporate culture as the greatest challenge when transitioning into a new job. An NEO also serves as a crucial lever to attaining cultural transformation in an organization. If your company has embarked on a culture change or recognizes that the culture must change to drive better business results, it is best to focus on employees at the beginning of their tenure, when they are most impressionable. It is during these first days, weeks and months with a new employer that employees decide whether they will be champions of change within the company, become disgruntled and leave, or stay and become toxic by upholding the “old” culture.

NEOs are a critical opportunity to instill new employees with the culture your company aspires to represent to the world. Once acculturated and educated, these employees become key influencers of change, spreading throughout the company as foot soldiers of your mission. For strategies on achieving culture change through your NEO, download my new whitepaper, Achieving Culture Change Through Your New Employee Orientation. You can also join me for a free HCI webcast, Navigate A Successful Transformation from Orientation to Acculturation, on Thursday, February 25, 2016.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Millennials & the Feminist Divide

Generational clashes on feminism, politics and leadership are heating up, creating a perfect storm for the 2016 election year and new dilemmas for women (and men) in the workplace. Case in point: 
Regardless of what you think about feminism and politics, this multigenerational debate represents an intersection of conflicting generational norms and values about what it means and takes to be a female leader in the 21st Century. When translated to the workplace, these conflicting sentiments reveal profound generational differences among working women and challenges for the employers who struggle to recruit and retain them. 

We are entering of a new era of gender definitions and issues. The impact to the workforce and to companies tasked with attracting, engaging and developing women leaders, should not be overlooked. For more insight on this issue, please feel free to download my whitepapers, “Millennials Don’t Want to Lean In: Why Generational Differences Among Working Women Matter to Companies” and “The Working Mother of the Future: How Demographics Will Force Change for Women at Work,” or contact me directly. 

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

A College Educated Workforce for 2016

In the United States, the student debt of the Millennial generation is at an unprecedented level and university dropout rates continue to rise. The demand for college educated, skilled workers is quickly outpacing the supply. 

To help reverse this trend, the Interchange Group is donating funds this holiday season to Scholarship America, a non-profit whose mission is to make postsecondary education success possible for all students. Scholarship America is the country's largest provider of private scholarships, awarding over $3.3 billion to more than 2 million students and spending 97% of its total budget on programs. 

My wish for 2016 is to help students complete their education beyond high school with manageable debt so that our communities will prosper and our workforces will strengthen. 

Happy New Year!

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

The 10 Toughest Jobs To Fill In 2016 & What To Do About It

2015 was a challenging year for hiring managers. Regardless of industry and geography, companies struggled to find and keep top talent. Unfortunately, 2016 is predicted to be tougher. According to new data from Career Cast the 10 most difficult jobs to fill in 2016 represent a diversity of industries, levels and functions. 
  • Data scientists
  • Electrical engineers
  • General and operations managers
  • Home health aide workers
  • Information security analysts
  • Marketing managers
  • Medical services managers
  • Physical therapists
  • Registered nurses
  • Software engineers
Attracting and retaining talent will be the number one human capital challenge of 2016. It will force executives and HR leaders to reassess their needs and priorities and to work together to accomplish key talent objectives. To achieve your recruitment and retention goals for 2016 and beyond, follow these three strategies.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Planning for 2016

We are beginning the 4th quarter, a time when workloads increase and managers endeavor to complete projects due at the year’s end. Q4 is also a time of planning for the coming year, when upcoming strategic initiatives are vetted, confirmed and budgeted. Most HR and Talent Management executives, as a result, have more on their plate than is realistic to accomplish, and are reluctant to offload the work to their own direct reports, who are equally burdened with year-end deadlines.

Effective managers cope with this crunch time by developing a small cadre of trusted outside specialists to delegate overloads of work to in Q4 or at any other time. Over the years, these consultants learn the company and culture and are available on call to use their specialized expertise to complete initiatives, from start to finish, with limited guidance. Many are also trusted resources for designing, facilitating and documenting strategic planning efforts so that the executive’s time and bandwidth are freed to think and execute at the appropriate leadership level. 

My work prepares leaders and their workforces to think strategically about their resources and to excel under conditions and in environments that are often quite different from what they have known historically. It moves through the entire employee lifecycle, from attracting and onboarding new hires, to developing and retaining them, to ensuring that career paths and succession plans are in place for the roles that matter most to organizations. The results create cost savings and stabilize companies for growth and profitability.

In support of completing 2015 project initiatives or your 2016 planning efforts, please feel free to access my whitepapers, blog posts, and multi-media for useful thought leadership and insight.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Millennials’ “Don’t Ask, Do Tell” Vacation Policy

Managers of Millennials complain to me that their young employees will tell, not ask, their managers that they will be taking vacation or time off. Or the Millennial will opt to work remotely without clearing it with their boss. From the Manager’s perspective, this shows a brazen lack of respect for the manager and the workload of others.

The Millennial perspective is quite different. Millennials believe that the 9-5 construct of work is dead. They intuitively understand that the future of work requires a high degree of flexibility – from the employee and the employer. Their willingness and desire to work in such dynamic ways, however, is ahead of what most employers understand, or have the capacity and infrastructure to currently support. Millennials assume their bosses are on the same page about this flexibility, but that cannot be farther from the truth.

Most conflict between Millennial employees and their older managers stem from generational differences in upbringing, work history and present-day expectations of the job. For insight into the most common areas of conflict and for strategies on integrating Millennials into organizations for long-term success, download my latest whitepaper, The Top 3 Conflicts Between Millennials & Their Managers or feel free to contact me directly. 

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy