What did I add to my personal legacy this year?
Did I promote transparency and drive innovation?
Did I actively articulate the values of my company?
Did I build relationships and facilitate communication?
The questions above were originally posed to provide motivation and perspective seven months ago in my post 2015: Strategies and Trends for the HR Professional. As we are a little over halfway through the year, it is a good moment to take the time to review our progress.
It’s time for an HR professional check up.
Workforce Demographics: The Big Shift
The single biggest challenge in HR for 2015 was always going to be the shifting working demographic. An increasingly competitive talent market steadily building up with a diverse mix of individuals has created a complex landscape for those in our profession. Many of my posts have been targeted at ways to treat employees as individuals with unique needs and about ways that we can create a corporate (or small business) environment that supports the hiring and retaining of these individuals.
The question then is: should we still worry about that as we close out the year? Are we on track?
It doesn’t take much to see that — at least on the surface – not much of that focus has (or should) change through the rest of 2015 or beyond. Any business, HR, or social media site is chock full of headlines talking about the migration of Millennials into the workforce, the increasing job scarcity in the majority of fields as employment numbers rise, and the ways that Boomers are (and sometimes are not) exiting the workforce.
Yet I can’t help but feel that there is a salient point upon which we should also reflect. In regards to Millennials, I had cautioned about giving in too much to assumption. In large part, that is because this group (like any other) will continue to homogenize within the greater workforce as their personal needs grow. You can see this trend in the tone of many articles that are now starting to look beyond defining “Millennials” and more into what a demographic shift means for businesses. Discussions of spending habits, home buying, and saving have now illuminated what should seem obvious: a group that was still mostly of university age five years ago have matured and their priorities shifted as they entered the workforce, increased their incomes, and started paying down their debts. Buying homes and cars, starting families, and increasing purchasing power are all becoming part of the Millennial age range. This indicates that what will eventually be left is more of the general cultural mood associated with people of a similar age who experienced comparable events during their formative years.
What, if anything, do we need to change? For most of us in HR this means things that have been important to existing workers will still be valuable to younger folks in the future, but may require some tweaking to accommodate the individualism, interconnectedness, and financial needs of younger workers as they predominate our employment ranks. The same “check-up” questions I asked at the beginning of the year now stand as a guide for ensuring that your company is prepared regardless of the age group:
- Do we have a plan for success through competitive hiring practices and robust benefits?
- Do we have a culture of honest interaction that supports our employees?
- Do we engage in a meaningful way with our progressively diverse employee body?
- Do we proactively identify and recruit future leaders?
- Do we train them to succeed?
- Do we present ourselves as a company aware of emerging trends?
- Do we support our communities and act in a socially responsible way?
Talking Talent: Something New?
While discussions of the demographics of where we work will continue to grab headlines, a bigger discussion seems to be on the horizon for the remainder of the year as we return to higher employment as a country: retaining talent. A competitive job market will mean that passive recruiting will again become the norm and so we must work to make sure that our people have reasons to continue to find our companies to be the right place for them. Focusing on engagement without being patronizing and providing a good corporate culture is something we can help nurture in our role and I challenge all of you to find new ways to solidify your talent base. My next few posts will be focused on this topic so stay tuned.