Changing Tides: The Workforce is Shifting

The tides are changing…oh, yes they are.  Hang on.  Get ready.  The shift is happening, again.

First, let’s frame where we’re at.  The Millennial Generation (those born between 1980 and 1991) is emerging as the predominate workforce.  They are a larger group, collectively, than the Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) and Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1980) combined.

The Millennials saw their parents lose jobs in the 1980s and 1990s, and they experienced that impact once again in the early 2000s following the tech boom.  Millennials don’t have the same view of employment as their parents do because they experienced the adverse effect of too much commitment and loyalty (to the organizations at which they worked). 

As a result, the manner in which individuals navigate career paths has changed forever.  

Succession plans are now becoming requirements for any company to be considered by a candidate.  And, no ordinary, standardized succession plan will do.  Candidates demand customized pathways to more money, more impact and more responsibility. 

Focus (by companies) on the individual’s passions must become more prevalent.  When a person is passionate, he or she is self motivated and driven.   Companies must figure out how to channel that energy or risk losing the talent to the competition.  As such, working relationships and organizational charts must be reviewed and, in many cases, be recreated in a way that better allows for cross functional support and a greater level of talent sharing.

Efficiency is not always about an automated system.  There is a common candidate perception that companies rely on automated systems too heavily to manage the interviewing and hiring process.  I have heard candidates liken the process at most companies to herding cattle or waiting in line at an amusement park.  This generation of candidates wants to feel special; distinguished from their peers.  They want to, and believe, they possess unique skills and experience.  Automated systems make reporting and analytics easier, but they fail to highlight an individual’s unique talent in a way that would allow the person to contribute to the organization fully.

Until now, companies have managed a black and white, square-peg-square-hole, view as it relates to talent acquisition and retention.  They have created standardized job descriptions and processes, mostly by dedicated HR professionals who are only trying to protect the organization.  

Don’t get me wrong, there are some great companies and great programs (mentoring, on-boarding, recognition programs, etc.), but as the workforce undulates, successful companies must become more flexible and begin looking at each individual in terms of how that person can impact the organization, beyond the job description.  

Companies have the attention and interest of a dedicated leader for around 18 months to 2 years.  At that point, the company must provide some movement.  Movement can be ascension or at a lateral level if the new role provides challenges and opportunity to enhance knowledge.  If there is no defined plan, no new challenge and/or no chance for increased compensation within the organization at this time interval, don’t expect the leader to sit still.  He or she will move swiftly to another company that provides a new window to make an impact.  

The tides are definitely changing.  Hang on.


Views: 427

Comment by Recruiting Animal on May 17, 2011 at 4:35pm
Dave this sounds like the hackneyed GenY propaganda that was appearing regularly before the recession. I dare you to come on my show tomorrow and defend these remarks. You can reach me at - the show is on at Noon Eastern Time.
Comment by David Rose on May 20, 2011 at 5:05pm

Just getting to your comment now.  Been busy actually recruiting today.  Seems like there are a lot of opinions in recruiting. 


The industry we support has been slow to adopt social media, and is just discovering the value of each vehicle now.  Many of the candidates we speak to don't understand where to begin or how to best utilize all the information available.  There is no question that candidates, in our industry, are gaining leverage.


In the last 3 months, I've had 10 candidates receive more than 1 offer.  Companies that continue to drag out their process run the risk of losing candidates. 


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