Funny thing. When you have actual, honest-to-goodness, freaking wonderful time to read, think, talk, and then digest all that delicious stuff into energy. When you have time, you get to refuel. When you’re as fascinated by every bright and shiny object as me, that can mean a lot of tanking up.

I’ve found myself most fascinated – if I can find a way to wrap a bunch of diverse learnings and tangential readings into one neat(ish) package – by the evolution of talent migration and employment culture. I know this is absolutely thrilling stuff.  Just, likely, not to you.

I’ll try and break down what I’ve been thinking about (if you’re not interested in recruiting, HR, and/ or the success or failure of companies, feel free to move on):

  • The job market has changed – radically
    • We’ve gone from a model where there were less jobs than there were available workers
    • Roles continue to increase in specialization, increasing the strain on the job market – Vector Composites, a high-tech manufacturing company in Dayton, is so strapped for knowledge workers that it partnered with a local community college and created a curriculum to train local laid off auto workers
    • Boomers may have delayed their retirement thanks to the recession, but this is just putting off a bill that’s going to come due sooner than we like – that’s a huge additional strain on the talent pool just waiting to happen. And it will.
    • Millennials and Gen-Xers have shorter attention spans
    • Social media (you knew it had to show up here) can get the word out about openings quickly, but can just as quickly damage a company’s reputation – I’m just waiting for the first “Nestle” to happen to a company concerning its hiring practices/ employment culture.
  • HR & Recruitment are more trusted by execs as business leaders than they had been in the past (when HR was often looked upon as a bit of a joke)
    • But: This is not nearly universal, nor is it generally strong enough trust
    • Earned or unearned disdain? Too metaphysical a question to get into as an aside
  • The next wars will be fought within HR’s domain
    • Talent. It will all come down to who has the most, and the most access to more as they need it.
  • Talent organizations within companies will need to be led by visionary, adaptable leaders who won’t (or don’t know enough to) adhere to an old-school style of HR
    • They will likely be called upon to do the radical (where it makes sense)
      • IE: changing your leadership development approach will “require profoundly different attitudes and mind-sets as well as major organizational changes.” (Charan, Ram: Leaders at All Levels, Willey, 2008)
  • If companies are made or broken by their employees, and the inventory of able employees is about to contract, then we should see some large-scale corporate failures as a direct result.
  • The key to the future lies in flexibility and attraction
    • Flexibility: your turnover rate is going to increase. You need to be okay with this. You also need to prepare
      • Stay on top of your succession planning
      • Make sure your succession planning is global (ie, internal as well as external – your promotion pipelines should extend well beyond your org chart)
      • Recognize that your company may well have to change how it views employees: the speed that tech & marketing are shifting may require you to contract for specific, project-based employees much more so than you are now
      • Develop deep and continuously refreshing talent pools
    • Attraction
      • Take a “be like Google” attitude here: over 3k top-tier applicants per week, minimal advertising or outside agency help
        • Brilliant branding
        • Partnering closely with marketing
        • PR as a candidate-traffic driver
        • Become loved: fresh engineering grad (true quote): “Well, I applied at X, Y, and Z. And Google. I don’t want to move cross-country, but, well, they’re Google. I would for them.”
      • Be hard to leave, and easy to come back to
        • Be the girl/ boy they gave up because they were too young, but that they can’t get out of their minds. The standard for any future relationship. Wait for a ring.
        • Pay attention to your organization: who are your future leaders? Are you challenging them enough? Do you have redundancies for if (when) they leave to go “date around”? Are you confident they will return?
      • Are you doing it right? Easy test: see how many of your employees brag about where they work. IE (actual Twitter bio): “I’m magic. I play at Mullen.”

What am I interested in? Standing at that intersection: where how organizations behave and adapt to the talent issue influences their survival.

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