Inspiring Students for the Future of Work

This year, my work and research brought me face-to-face with the challenges companies confront in securing skilled workers and the demands placed on our educators to equip a new, Post-Millennial Generation, for the future of work.

The future of work will require strong STEM skills and a high level of collaboration and innovation. That’s why the Interchange Group is donating funds this holiday season to FIRST®, an organization that engages kids, kindergarten through high school, in exciting, mentor-based, research and robotics programs. FIRST® provides unique, hands-on STEM learning experiences and scholarships to hundreds of thousands of students. The organization is transforming our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of contributing to society.

To learn more about FIRST®, click on the following links:

I am FIRST: Inspiring Dreamers
Tania’s Story: Empower One Leader, Change the Lives of Many
FIRST and Malachi Change the World

Happy Holidays!

Set Realistic Goals for Succession Planning

There’s something about the end of the year that triggers agitation and activity around planning. Individuals assess their financial and professional outlook, and we see a renewed focus on long-term priorities like estate planning.

I see a similar phenomenon in organizations. Management takes stock of what it has achieved and reflects on strategic priorities for the future. It is at this time that I see renewed energy around succession planning. Leaders turn their attention to the growth and sustainability of the business and seek out strategies to identify, develop and retain talent for future roles.

Once the first quarter of the new year rolls around, however, more immediate business needs often push well-intentioned succession planning efforts aside. This is a common occurrence and leaves organizations unprepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

Succession planning activities must be simple and practical in order to be sustainable. To ensure you set and achieve realistic succession planning goals for 2019, follow my advice in HR Magazine’s latest article, Tomorrow’s Leaders – A Strong Succession Plan Can Strengthen Your Organization, or contact me directly for some year-end counsel.

A No-Brainer Way to Attract & Keep Millennials

An unprecedented 60% percent of Millennial college grads borrowed money for student loans. With the average educational debt totaling almost $28,000, student loans are now the second-greatest outlay for Millennials, trailing only rent or mortgages. Student debt weighs so heavily on Millennials that 53% say they would stay in a job they didn’t like due to their student loan obligation and 71% say they would value a student loan refinance benefit from employers.

Providing student loan repayments is no-brainer way to attract and keep Millennials. And since only 4% of companies currently provide this benefit, employers who offer repayment assistance will have the upper hand in the war for talent. For concrete examples of how companies are providing and structuring student loan repayment benefits, read Glassdoor’s 12 Companies Offering Student Loan Forgiveness Hiring Now. For more strategies and tips on how to attract and retain Millennials in your organization contact me directly.

Rethink Your Candidate Experience or Ruin Your Brand

Chances are, your current hiring process is ruining your employer brand. Consider these statistics:

  • 60% of job seekers report a negative candidate experience with the employers they engage.

  • 72% of job seekers report sharing their negative candidate experiences online.

  • 55% of job seekers report avoiding certain companies after reading negative online reviews.

Job seekers begin to form an opinion about a company, as an employer AND as a business, the very moment they begin the application process. One negative candidate experience creates a ripple effect as applicants vocalize and post their dissatisfaction with how they were treated and discourage others from applying. Millennials, who represent three-fourths of active job seekers, are especially quick to share their experiences online and pay particularly close attention to reviews from their peers.

Most employers are oblivious to their role in creating a negative candidate experience and fail to understand the broader impact their behavior has on their company’s brand and ability to recruit top talent. Wondering what constitutes a bad experience for the applicant and how ensure a great one? Download my new whitepaper, Rethink Your Candidate Experience or Ruin Your Brand or feel free to contact me directly for more information.

Should You Ditch Your 8-Hour Workday?

I recently read about a company that reduced its work day to 5 hours for all employees without reducing salaries. As long as employees fulfilled their job duties within those 5 hours, they were free to leave the office. As a result of this change, productivity increased across the company, sick leave decreased by 12% and employee engagement rose dramatically.

The idea of living more and working less isn’t new -- Timothy Ferris first published his best-selling book, The 4-Hour Workweek, in 2009 –- but it is gaining momentum now that flexibility-focused Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers and Gen Xers as the majority generation in the U.S. workforce.

Millennials are replacing unproductive, hour-long sit down meetings with stand-up meetings that accelerate fast decision making. They are retiring email as the primary mode of information sharing and investing in real-time, collaboration and communication technology. When they reach positions of leadership and authority, Millennials fundamentally change the way work gets done.

Ditching your 8-hour workday may not be possible for all employers for a variety of reasons, but it’s a worthwhile exercise to consider. If you only had 5 hours to get work done, what would you eliminate? How would you have to innovate?

Organizations must evolve to stay competitive, and we must prepare leaders and their workforces to excel under conditions and in environments that are very different from what they know and are used to. For more information on successful strategies to implement, visit my website or contact me directly.

The Post-Millennial Workforce is Here!

The Post-Millennial workforce is here. The oldest of this new generation are graduating high school, and employers, especially those facing a shortage of skilled labor, are preparing for this next influx of talent. Demographers use a variety of names to refer to this generation – Generation Z, Plurals, iGens – but none of these labels 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 values, characteristics and behaviors are misunderstood.

Post-Millennials have witnessed the disruption of all political, societal, and economic norms, realities and codes of conduct. These influences combine to create a generation that embraces grit and fixes problems. They are the Post-Millennial clean-up crew. Their characteristics and strengths will both complement and undergird the new models for life and work ushered in by the Millennials.

The Post-Millennial generation will be one of the most important cohorts for the U.S. workforce. They will be the solvers and silent leaders and employers will need them. To learn about this new generation and how to attract and retain them in the workplace, download my new whitepaper, "The Post Millennial Workforce," or feel free to contact me directly for more information.

3 Ways to Tackle the Talent Shortage

Companies are facing unprecedented labor shortages. The retirement of Baby Boomers is outpacing hiring, and employers are running low on their talent inventory. This phenomenon, often referred to as the Silver Tsunami, is occurring across industries, in large and small companies, in rural and urban areas. The underlying problems -- a lack of skilled labor, the inability to recruit and retain new generations of talent, and the lack of adequate succession planning to replace retiring Baby Boomers -- are all part of the same continuum and a core focus of my work.

I will be addressing all three of these challenges, and providing new insight and practical solutions for tackling the talent shortage, at the annual SHRM conference in Chicago this month. If you plan to be there, please join me during one of my sessions below.

Succession Planning for the 21st Century
Pre-Conference workshops on June 16 & 17

The First 90 Days Will Make or Break Your New Hire
Mega Session on June 18

Get Ready for the Post-Millennial Workforce!
Smart Stage on June 19

If you are unable to attend but would like more information on these critical issues, please feel free download and share any of the resources on my website or contact me directly.

Bridging the Talent Gap

A recent Manpower Group Talent Shortage Survey revealed that the top 10 jobs most difficult for employers to fill in the U.S. are skilled trade workers, drivers, sales representatives, teachers, restaurant and hotel staff, accounting & finance staff, nurses, laborers, engineers, and technicians. Regardless of industry, geography and size, employers are facing a steady, and largely unmet demand for talent.

To bridge the talent gap and meet the demand for a strong, competent workforce, companies must take matters into their own hands by sourcing and developing a new generation of employees. For concrete strategies, follow these 6 Best Practices for Bridging the Talent Gap

Don’t Keep Succession Planning Secret

Finding qualified candidates to succeed your key executives is important, but so is letting people know that you have a succession plan in place. Most companies that engage in succession planning do the opposite. They conduct clandestine succession planning conversations, never consulting with potential successors, and never communicating succession planning efforts to the broader community. This mistake is quantifiable and avoidable.

Not consulting with potential successors is a losing scenario. Absent information on their prospects with the company, high potential talent will jump ship. Alternatively, candidates who are not consulted about their prospects get slotted for roles that they have no interest in or intention of filling.

Not communicating succession planning efforts to the broader community, internally and externally, is also a risk. It signals a lack of business continuity planning and of leadership development, both of which trigger a loss of trust in the prospects of the company.

It is critical that boards and executives instill confidence in their companies by making their succession planning efforts transparent. For strategies to successfully plan for the succession of your key roles, contact me directly or access my website for more information.

Closing the Skills Gap

In the United States, the demand for educated, skilled workers is quickly outpacing the supply. The situation is especially dire in the manufacturing industry, which is expected to face a shortage of 2 million employees over the next 10 years. This has drastic implications for the economy and society.

To help reverse this trend, the Interchange Group is donating funds this holiday season to The Manufacturing Institute, a non-profit dedicated to building a skilled and diverse pipeline of manufacturing talent. The organization’s focus on valuing women in manufacturing, attracting the next generation of youth into manufacturing, and transitioning veterans into rewarding careers in manufacturing is directly aligned with my own passion and efforts.

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

Happy Holidays!

Maybe Retention is the Wrong Strategy

Companies spend massive amounts time, money and headspace on strategies to increase employee retention, hoping that doing so will indemnify them from the risks of losing valuable employees, or thinking this will solve whatever labor shortage they face that threatens the health and growth of their business.

Do they have it all wrong? Maybe retention is the wrong approach. Perhaps there is a better way.

Retention is an overrated strategy that jeopardizes a company’s success, longevity and competitive advantage in the workforce. Employers who are willing to embrace this new model of work, where enthusiastic employees give organizations 100% when they are there and readily transfer knowledge to the next generation of talent when they move up or on, will have a significant competitive advantage in the labor markets and industries they serve.

To understand why retention may be the wrong strategy for your company, read my new white paper, Six Reasons Why Employers Must Rethink Their Focus On Retention, or feel free to contact me directly.

Companies Are Moving to Find Talent

This summer GE moved its corporate headquarters from rural Fairfield, Connecticut to Boston's vibrant Seaport District. The move represents a small segment of the company's global workforce but signals a major shift in thinking about demographics and the war for talent.

Boston is home to 55 colleges and universities and has one of the highest concentrations of Millennials as a portion of total population. GE is on record as saying it relocated, in large part, to compete for the type of Millennial talent necessary to fill its tech savvy roles. The company is undergoing a massive restructuring to reinvent itself for the digital age with the goal of becoming "a top 10 software company by 2020."

Millennials are moving to large cities with walkable urban environments and access to public transit, education, entertainment and cultural amenities. Companies located in rural and suburban communities will experience increasingly short supplies of skilled workers as a result. Relocation may appear a drastic step, but for companies like GE, it represents a proactive effort to stay in the game.

It is critical that organizations recognize the changing talent landscape and take proactive measures to attract and engage employees of all generations. For questions and strategies to successfully compete for talent in your industry, log on to my website or feel free to contact me directly.

The 1st 90 Days Will Make Or Break Your New Hire

You spend thousands of dollars and countless hours to attract top quality employees through advertising, interviewing and wooing talent. And when you finally get them, what do you do? If you are like most employers, you squander the best opportunity you have to engage, shape and retain them as employees.
Most employers are so driven to find talent and make a good first impression through the recruitment process that they neglect to think about what will happen once the employee shows up on their first day, ready for work.

Seem counter intuitive? If you are going to spend valuable time and money acquiring employees and paying them to come to work, why not prepare them to succeed and convince them to stay?

The first 90 days play a significant role in a new hire’s developing opinions about you as an employer. Their experiences during this highly-impressionable period directly affect their long-term engagement, retention and performance.

Recruiting new employees is a significant investment of resources. To maximize that return and to ensure that your new employees prosper (and persist) at your company, follow these five strategies for success.

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

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