by Jason Saunders, Partner, TS Grale Executive
With more than 20 years managing and directing divisional businesses, I have lots of first-hand experience advising on executive assessment and attraction strategies for Board and Senior Management recruitment.
So, it won’t be a surprise that in my opinion a company’s executive leaders should be regarded as some of its most valuable assets. With years of industry insight, it’s this top tier of management that can aspire and inspire, even when sailing organisations through the choppiest of waters. |
In spite of this fact, we are regularly being told by the media and research bodies that a shortage of such skilled employees in industry is considered to be one of the top threats to business today.
So is this the case?
The last Deloitte Manufacturer Perceptions report stresses just that, and states that the talent shortage in the U.S. – from CEOs, MDs, and Directors downwards – could result in a deficiency of two million workers in the industry over the 2015–2025 period.
Factors cited include the availability of a qualified workforce, the changing skill sets needed for advanced manufacturing, and perceptions of the industry.
Regardless of a growth in opportunities, this shortfall is a trend we’re seeing globally and not just in the U.S. Other recent studies project significant skills gaps in Europe between 2020 and 2030, with shrinkage already detected in Germany, Poland, Spain, and Russia.
At the end of last year I saw the coverage around the latest survey by The Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors. This is a case in point. The results show a shrinking pool of professionals that some believe could affect the UK construction industry, with 62% of surveyors thinking the problem is hampering growth (up from 40% in 2012).
The question is, what can we do to stop this decline and boost the executive-talent pools available?
Well, forward-thinking companies are already using the latest data trends to counter this skills-shortage problem. Strategies include creating robust recruitment programmes, introducing career mapping, enhancing staff-development and engagement platforms, focussing on culture and wellbeing, and forming developmental partnerships, to name a few.
Often this is packaged as Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP) to help businesses get proactive in reducing a skills gaps and ensuring they have the right staff for the organisation to thrive.
Human Resources leaders in manufacturing and engineering are using SWP to align hiring objectives with business needs, beyond just long-term organisational requirements. Tactics include:
- the use of advanced digital forecasting tools, assessing a multitude of variables and hypothetical scenarios,
- analysis of workforce talent alongside business prerequisites,
- mapping organisational resources against growth targets,
- evaluating staff benefits (in the broadest sense) to stay competitive and increase engagement,
- recruit ambassadors at all levels to consider hiring implications and repercussions,
- and investing in other types of technologies that help streamline efforts.
The necessity to tackle this flux in industry has been echoed by Accenture LLP, who said:
“Automation, the need for digital skills, demographic shifts and globalization are upending labour supply and demand.
“Advances in talent analytics are finally allowing workforce planning to become as dynamic as this environment. Prescriptive analytics tools help organizations go beyond describing “what is happening now” or “what might happen in the future” to control “what should happen.”
“Scenario-based strategic workforce planning is a digital playground for the business to constantly optimize workforce choices—testing, learning and tweaking across dimensions and futures—to deliver the business strategy.”
The key to SWP is that it not only addresses hiring, recruiting, and retaining vital staff, but it also helps to shape the processes, systems and technology needed to support growth.
It is an interesting holistic approach that needs to be embedded in the culture of a business to address recruiting, keeping and engaging future staff.
Going back to the Deloitte Manufacturer Perceptions report, it says that:
“Manufacturers are in the middle of a talent war, competing with Silicon Valley tech giants as well as multinationals on a global scale. By uplifting the image of the industry, modern manufacturing will become a beacon to attract top talent and a destination of choice.
“The newly recruited top talent, in turn, can also reinforce the positive image that can further attract more talent. This virtuous cycle of improving the existing image and recruiting the best talent can help reshape the […] manufacturing industry and better enable it to compete in these fast-paced, innovative, and transformative times.”
This is sound advice, and no time more apt than now. Recent research by Investors In People (IIP) has found that 47% of the UK workforce is looking to change jobs in 2018, with one in five people already actively searching for a new opportunity.
It would seem that for many, a new year and a new job go hand in hand. So, to my mind, this may be the perfect time to implement such a new strategy to attract and retain top talent at your organisation.
Do you already use SWP? What outcomes or benefits have you seen in industry?