<i>Dear Workforce</i> How Do I Alert Companies Blind to a Potential Labor Shortage
July 27, 2007
Dear Soft Sell Not Working: Experts are still debating whether there will even be a major labor shortage in the future. Continued offshoring, immigration, technological advances, postponed retirement of baby boomers and other factors could exert a significant impact on the labor pool's adequacy during the next 20 years. That being said, the best way to help clients prepare for a potential shortage is to help them zero in on current problems that will negatively affect them over time if not fixed. Most HR departments are so busy putting out fires that they don't have time to think about future problems and solutions. They often feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start to make things better. You have a great opportunity to guide HR practitioners to better long-term outcomes by helping them focus on areas they can improve now. Start a real dialogue What causes your clients pain? They may know things are not right but be unable to pinpoint the problem. This is your opportunity to walk them through current processes and discover issues that pose a barrier to future success. Do they have significant short-term turnover? Are their employee satisfaction scores alarming? Do they have too high or low usage of their employee assistance program? Take action now Isolate a few specific items that will make a difference in the company's ability to maintain a workforce in the future. Help them make a doable action plan for each item that can be implemented right now. For example, if a company has an issue with high turnover occurring within six months of hire, help them fix their hiring processes. Make sure their job descriptions address cultural, technical and interpersonal skills needed for success. Ask if supervisors are getting training on interviewing techniques. Check their background screening procedures. Find out if they are paying competitively. Be willing to be incremental Few organizations do a truly good job of optimizing the value of their human capital right now. They must take the time to hire better, train new hires and existing employees better, treat employees with more respect, and reward and recognize them properly. They need to develop succession and knowledge-transfer plans to cope with both current needs and those they will encounter as baby boomers retire, and the general pace of global competition continues to increase. Break down problems into small chunks and work on them one piece at a time. Encourage your clients to focus narrowly and achieve specifically. They'll get more done and be happier in the process. Don't resort to "fear selling" to organizations. This approach prevents logical discourse, proper focus on vital issues at hand and the optimal allocation of scarce resources. The notion of looming labor shortages is consuming valuable time and resources and deflecting attention from practical, important, day-to-day concerns of American businesses. Fixing the problems your clients encounter right now will lay a solid foundation for dealing with a future labor shortage, and will make them much more willing to consider the other workforce solutions you provide. SOURCE: Richard D. Galbreath, president, Performance Growth Partners Inc., Bloomington, Illinois, August 13, 2006. LEARN MORE: Please read how to hire with a view toward retention and reduced turnover. The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.