Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Signs of Economic Heating...A New Talent War Looming?

This week there were new signs that the economy is moving in the right direction. Great news for individuals, companies and the nation.

Those signs included a rise in the short-term interest rate by the Fed, durable good orders showed an increase over the last reporting period and consumer prices continue to be flat. These signs together and statements from the Fed that growth is currently more important that inflationary issues continues to bode well for the U.S. economy.

While these events transpired this week in economic news, this blog post from the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) shows what may be looming for companies not just in the U.S., but globally. In the blog is reference to a Halifax Chamber of Commerce brief by the Nova Scotia Labour Minister Marilyn More. During her discussion she states the labour force will shrink by 18,500 jobs in 2014 and over 40,000 Baby Boomers are expected to retire leading to a significant labour shortage in Nova Scotia.

While this is not news to the Human Capital realm, we have been expecting this for sometime now, it has just been postponed by the current economic conditions, Ms. More states:

"...38% of the current workforce is undereducated and lacks the skills to move forward in a knowledge-based economy."

What is occurring in Nova Scotia is a microcosm of the larger human capital condition across the globe and the important understanding that as the economy does turn around in the U.S. and globally that a new talent war is looming. As the economy heats up and organizations move to develop new human capital capabilities to execute the business strategy...they will need talented and skilled knowledge workers to enable their business strategy. What this report indicates is that the available labor force may not be prepared with the right knowledge, skills and experiences to support the organization's business strategy.

Understanding these dynamics now will lead to organizations being either successful Talent Keepers and Talent Acquirers or net Talent Losers. It may be too soon to say how this will pan out as job creation is slowly increasing. There is potentially pent-up frustration in the workforce in many companies. Those that would have left found fewer jobs available to move to and those that would have stayed may not be happy with how downsizing affected them directly. If those factors are in your workforce (Annual workforce engagement and climate surveys will shed light here), preparing for the implications of a new talent war now is critical.

Human Capital leaders are in a unique position. As discussed in my last blog post, there is immense cash liquidity in organizations because that allowed flexibility. Companies are poised to make key decisions on whether to buy new talent (hiring or M&A), develop talent, or rent talent. Human Capital leaders can make recommendations to support these critical decisions, but not without:

1. The requisite human capital analytics
2. Understanding of the business environment
3. Knowing the required human capital capabilities to execute the business strategy

Understanding these three critical components of the organization will allow for decision advantage when it comes to human capital. Human capital decision advantage will make you and your organization a Talent Keeper/Acquirer and not a Talent Loser as the economy continues to get on track.


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