Editor’s Note: Women of HR has partnered with Spherion on a series of sponsored posts to bring you highlights and commentary from their 2015 Emerging Workforce Study. This is the first of the series that will be presented throughout the next several months.
As HR professionals, we know (or at least should recognize) that the nature of work is changing. Not only are the skills that we are going to need our employees to have for our businesses to continue to be competitive going to change, but there’s also a shift happening in employees’ expectations of what they not only want, but what they expect out of the relationship with their employer. As these perspectives, attitudes, and expectations of the workforce continues to evolve, it’s going to become increasingly important for employers to stay in tune with these shifts and strive for a better understanding of their workforces to help ensure continued success.
Spherion’s Emerging Workforce Study contains a great deal of interesting data and statistics regarding not only this, but other future trends as well. According to the study, it’s skills such as problem-solving, strategic thinking, team building, the ability to understand and interpret data, and evolving technology expertise that employers believe are going to be most important going forward. Generally speaking, our workforces tend to agree. However, let’s put this in the context of the following points:
- 33% of workers agree or strongly agree that their current job skills fall short of what will be required in future positions
- Only 31% agree/strongly agree that they feel like their current employer has trained them adequately enough to keep their skills up
- 35% agree/strongly agree that they worry a lot about falling behind in acquiring new skills that will be needed in the future
I find this a little alarming. Employers feel that the skills they need from their workers are changing. Employees tend to agree. However, many workers feel like the skills they have now are not adequate for what they will need in the future, many of them also admitting that they actually worry a lot about falling behind, and only 31% feel like their employers are doing enough to help them prepare for and hone the skills they’ll need in the future. Sure sounds like as employers we’re not pulling our weight, doesn’t it?
But wait, it gets worse than that. Check out these stats:
- Only 24% of employers think it’s very/extremely challenging in terms of cost to keep workers trained for future skill needs/requirements, and 26% say the same for keeping up with evolving training demands to keep workers’ skills up-to-date.
Employers agree that required skills are changing. Workers agree, but don’t feel like they are in a very good position to hone these skills, and that their employers are not holding up their end of the bargain in preparing them for what’s going to be needed. Yet employers don’t feel like it’s very much of a burden to help their employees keep their skills up to date. So what’s the hold up? Why such a disparity in beliefs and expectations? Why are our perceptions as employers so out of line with our employees? What do we, as employers and human resource professionals, need to do to remedy this?
Implications for HR Pros
In light of these findings, here are a few questions I would propose we should be asking ourselves:
- Have we really taken the time to examine not only the skills necessary for success in various parts of our organizations now, but also how they may change those jobs evolve? Have we factored in the implication of technology and how it could automate and/or make processes more efficient? And how might that change the requirements of any given job? What about the impact of data and how analyzing, interpreting, and leveraging it may change how we do business? How might that not only change the existing jobs in our organizations, but also perhaps create the need for new jobs/responsibilities?
- Have we clearly communicated to our employees how we see necessary skills sets changing, and reconciled that with how our employees feel they are prepared for those changes? Have we asked the opinions of those who actually do the jobs on a day to day basis how they see their jobs potentially changing?
- If we don’t feel we have the necessary future skills sets present, what are we doing to remedy that situation? Are we providing ample training & development opportunities, whether they be offered internally or externally? What processes do we have in place within our HR departments to assess skills? How do we identify gaps? Do we utilize tools such as talent review processes, career development planning, or individual development plans?
- What are we doing as HR professionals to ensure that our own knowledge, skills, and abilities are up-to-date and future-focused?
All questions worth examining more closely, I believe.
More About the Emerging Workforce Study:
The 2015 version of the study was conducted by Harris Poll, a Nielson company, between March and April 2015, and surveyed more than 2,000 workers and 225 human resource managers on their opinions and attitudes around critical workplace topics such as recruitment, employee engagement, job satisfaction, retention, employee advocacy, social media use, generational differences and work/life balance. Findings from this in-depth research reveal new trends, insights and impacts that are important for U.S. employers and their employees. The survey offers great statistics and trend information for HR managers and businesses and points to an interesting, growing gap between employers’ and employees’ views, and also includes data that can impact HR strategies to increase engagement, productivity and retention, among other topics important to the employment life cycle and workplace.
Disclosure: Spherion partnered with bloggers such as me for their Emerging Workforce Study program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any idea mentioned in these posts. Spherion believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Spherion’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.
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