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Posts tagged ‘workforce management’

Re-thinking the So-called Millennial Problem

millennialsToday’s post comes to us courtesy of Workforce Institute board member, John Frehse, Managing Partner at Core Practice and a sought after speaker on the topic of workforce management.

We’ve all heard the negatives thrown around about Millennials: they’re lazy, entitled, and nothing like the generations who came before them. The struggle to hire and retain this well-educated, passionate, and demanding generation has left many employers frustrated and confused. But the real problem might be that employers have failed to understand who Millennials really are, what they want, and how they fit into the fabric of the ever-changing economy.

Rather than relying on lazy and often erroneous stereotypes, it’s helpful to think in terms of 3 key forces that are driving Millennial behavior:

1. The first is cultural: We have devalued the perception of what are traditionally considered “blue collar” jobs even though they are secure, high-paying, and often coupled with generous benefits. Despite the numerous opportunities in industries with blue collar jobs, few millennials aspire to enter this segment of the job market. Millennials believe that they need to have a four-year degree to be successful and get a “good job.” Indeed, they are passing on opportunities to enter the blue-collar workforce, learn a skilled trade, receive paid on-the-job training, and graduate with zero debt. Instead, they are going to four-year schools where many of them will graduate with over $100,000 of debt. Even with a four-year degree, many Millennials still struggle to find permanent employment and will be perpetually under-employed at positions that do not require a college education.

2. The second factor is social: Marriage rates are in a free-fall compared with previous generations. As a matter of fact, Millennials have the lowest marriage rates of any previous generation and more than double the number of people are not getting married compare with the Generation X. This decline has a significant impact on other components of their lives. The demand for higher incomes to support a family is greatly diminished and many Millennials are opting to live at home with their parents. With housing costs and other incidentals picked up by others, Millennials can afford to not fight for the promotion or work the extra hours. A part-time job may be the only thing they need to cover their living expenses.

3. The third is financial: Millennials are making less than previous generations. According to the US Census, 18-34 year olds were making $35,845 on an inflation-adjusted basis in 1980. Today, this same age group is making $3,472 less ($33,883). This decrease is coupled with an increase in education from the same time period. 15.7% had a college education or higher in 1980. Today that number is 22.3%. There is a clear negative correlation.

So, taking these forces into consideration, what should employers be thinking about when it comes to recruiting, retaining and engaging Millennials?

1. Millennials have very different work preferences than non-Millennial generations. When it comes to hourly employment, shift length, day-on and day-off patterns, overtime opportunities, and shift start and stop times should be approached differently when it comes to Millennials.

2. Employee engagement is more critical then ever. Millennials want to learn more and like obtaining additional skills. What if you could give employees what they want and improve the bottom line? Innovative labor strategies can become a competitive advantage when recruiting key talent and improve operational performance.

3. More than 48 million additional retirees will leave the workforce by 2020. You better make sure you have aggressive millennial-centric labor strategies to actively recruit, engage, and retain employees to fill the empty spots.

4. Inaction will make things worse. Finding the best and brightest employees is only going to become more difficult as time goes on.

5. Millennials talk a lot and share on social media constantly! Invest in them. They will become your most successful recruiters.

Employers who continue to try to change Millennials and mold them into something more closely resembling previous generations will be left behind. Instead, they must adapt to the changing preferences of this new generation. By understanding the forces driving the changing landscape and reacting to those forces in a way that welcomes Millennials into the fold, employers can ensure that they are hiring the best and brightest and will continue to do so for generations to come.

People Analytics and Your Seasonal Workforce

Beyond just getting bodies onboard, leveraging this seasonal workforce can be a big competitive advantage. Whenever we are dealing with a potentially big strategic advantage; particularly one involving large numbers of workers; we want to call on the power of people analytics.

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Organizational Productivity: Staffing and Scheduling Must Work Together

McLendonToday’s guest post is courtesy of our board member, Sharlyn Lauby.  Sharlyn is author of the blog HR Bartender and president of ITM Group Inc.

We keep hearing about the challenges of finding qualified talent. According to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) titled “The New Talent Landscape: Recruiting Difficulty and Skills Shortages”, sixty-eight percent (68%) of human resources professionals report recruiting challenges in today’s talent market. This means that, once organizations find talent, they need to make sure they retain them. It’s estimated that the average cost per hire is $4,129 and the average time to fill an open position is 42 days. Companies spend too many resources to bring talent into the organization just to let their investment walk out the door.

As a result, organizations use a variety of strategies to retain employees, including unlimited vacation time, flexible scheduling and wellness programs to reduce burnout. But one area that might be overlooked is scheduling. Let me share a story to illustrate:

Years ago, I was brought in to an organization to evaluate their onboarding program. Their challenge was that customers were very unhappy with their service. The company was losing huge amounts of money in the form of customer refunds. Employees were frustrated. I understand that handling upset customers is part of our jobs but dealing with angry customers all the time is hard.

The company was convinced that the answer to their problems was to hire more people to keep up with customer demand. My assignment was to make sure new employees were onboarded effectively and efficiently. After spending a little time in their operation, I suggested to senior management that the company had plenty of people. And they had a good onboarding program. The problem? They weren’t scheduling people correctly.

Organizations must 1) hire the right people, 2) hire the right numbers of people, and 3) schedule people to be there at the right times. When these three pieces are working together, the work is distributed properly, employees feel engaged and not overwhelmed, customers are taken care of, and the business succeeds.

The good news is that organizations don’t need a tight rein over scheduling for it to be effective. Companies can give employees the ability to have a say into their work schedule. And it doing so, they’re not creating complete anarchy. Here’s how it works:

  • Employees can take their preferences and availabilities into consideration when they select their schedule. Scheduling is an emotional issue for employees. They want to know they can attend their kid’s school events, family gatherings, and even stay home to watch the Super Bowl. When employees are in control of their schedule, it can increase engagement, improve productivity, and reduce burnout.
  • Today’s technology allows employees to view their schedules in advance, sign up for extra shifts, and swap shifts using their smart devices. The technology has built-in intelligence that ensures employees who swap shifts have the right skills, certifications, qualifications, etc. Of course, this means that managers and employees need to provide relevant information about jobs such as skills and certification requirements so when swapping shifts, those important things are taken into consideration.
  • Finally, managers can stay informed of operational coverage by using their smart devices as well. This reduces the amount of scheduling administration being handled by management and allows them to focus on what’s really important – coaching and developing employees. A positive cycle is created with managers focused on employees and employees focused on customers.

If you’re looking for a real-life case study to illustrate, check out this article in STORES magazine featuring McLendon Hardware. Nathaniel Polky, director of information technology, shares their results. “Employees love seeing their schedules. It’s a small thing, but very important for them to know when and where they are working at any point in time. It gives them choice and flexibility, and it’s been very well received.

Staffing and scheduling are two different things. Many organizations have already aligned staffing with other human resources functions like compensation, benefits, training, etc. Scheduling shouldn’t be considered a stand-alone activity. It works very well with staffing and has a huge impact on the business. It’s time to align the staffing and scheduling functions for maximum productivity and employee engagement.