The emerging workforce continues to puzzle traditional managers, particularly those used to a once-size-fits-all approach to managing people.
Now, Workforce 2020, a major study from Oxford Economics, in conjunction with SAP, has identified six major issues that businesses are struggling with. Oxford surveyed more than 5,000 employees worldwide and conducted a series of in-depth interviews as well.
Oxford notes in a release that corporations are “facing the most diverse work environment that the world has ever seen with five different generations working together, across geographies — each with different skills, experiences and work habits. More of these workers will be freelancers and long-term contractors. All of this represents a major opportunity for productivity, talent development and employee engagement, but … most companies are unprepared to capitalize on it.”
Here then are the Significant Six issues as defined by Oxford:
1. Compensation matters most. Two-thirds of respondents and subsidized food,” Oxford said. “If compensation is what motivates employees, what they are identified competitive compensation as “the most important attribute of a job.” Pay ranked 20 percent higher than the next highest benefit. “Retirement plans, flexibility and time-off rank well ahead of amenities such as fitness centers, daycare most afraid of is being left behind as a result of insufficient skills and inability to keep up with the latest technologies.” Thus, “becoming obsolete” is today’s worker’s biggest worry — twice as worrisome as being laid off.
2. Millennials are misunderstood. Here’s a disconnect: 51 percent of executives “say that millennials entering the workforce greatly impacts their workforce strategy,” yet less than a third “are giving special attention to millennials’ particular wants and needs — primarily because executives do not understand how they think.”
In fact, they aren’t that different from other generations in many respects. Here’s what Workforce 2020 found as it delved more deeply into the murky waters of the millennial:
Millennials and non-millennials alike cite compensation as the most important benefit. Additionally, 41 percent of millennials and 38 percent of non-millennials say higher compensation would increase their loyalty and engagement with the company.
Contrary to popular thinking, millennials are no more likely than non-millennials to leave their jobs in the next six months.
Millennials and non-millennials have similar priorities in areas such as meeting career and income goals and meeting goals for advancement. The two groups have similar views on the importance of corporate values and achieving work/life balance.
3. The talent gap is widening. Executives know there’s a widening talent gap within their organizations, and trying to hire newbies to fill in the gaps is tough these days given the competition for top performers. Yet companies aren’t following through on developing their on-board talent.
“Less than half of employees surveyed say their company provides ample training on the technology they need, and less than one-third say their company makes the latest technology available to them,” the study reported. “The need for skills like analytics and programming/development will grow sizably over the next three years, but employees doubt the opportunity to gain proficiency in these areas.”
Meantime, just 23 percent of executives “offer development and training as a benefit. Incentives for pursuing educational opportunities are also uncommon.”
Read: What job seekers want
4. Leadership is lacking. One-third of executives cited a lack of good leaders as the No. 2 obstacle to achieving their corporate goals, right behind employee loyalty/longevity and tied with technology challenges. “Almost half of those surveyed say their plans for growth are being hampered by lack of access to the right leaders within their organizations,” the study said. “Only 31 percent of executives interviewed say that when a person with key skills leaves they fill the role from within the organization. Surprisingly, less than half indicate that their leadership team has the skills to effectively manage talent or inspire and empower employees.”
5. The workforce is changing. More than eight in 10 respondents know the workforce is moving in the direction of fewer staff and more contractors, consultants, temps and freelancers and they say they are ready to adapt to that trend. This may be the one area where corporations both recognize a trend and are prepared to take advantage of it.
6. Compensation models, development and technology must change. Here again, companies understand that major shifts are taking place. The one-size-fits-all simply won’t get them where they want to be. Consider:
46 percent say they will require changes in compensation plans;
45 percent say they will require increased investment in training;
39 percent say they will result in changes to technology policies to support mobility, bring your own device, etc.;
41 percent say they will drive new investments in HR technology that can better support their changing strategies and needs.
But how ready are they to embrace new systems and rethink their processes? Responses indicate they are generally not prepared to do so:
53 percent of executives say workforce development is a key differentiator for their firm, but they admit they do not have the tools and organization to back it up;
38 percent say they have ample data about their workforce to understand their strengths and potential vulnerabilities from a skills perspective;
39 percent say they use quantifiable metrics and benchmarking as part of their workforce development strategy;
42 percent say they know how to extract meaningful insights from the data available to them.