Companies may not be investing enough in developing talent

Our survey results show that firms are not doing enough to identify and develop talent. Although nearly half say finding employees with base-level skills has an impact on their workforce strategy, fewer than one-quarter say their company offers education widely to employees.

Yet training and development initiatives would not just improve employee skills—they would also make the company a more attractive place to work. When asked what their ideal, but realistic, goal for their career in five years is, many employees focused on learning and development, both for personal satisfaction and advancement opportunities.

As the workforce becomes increasingly global, diverse, and flexible, companies will need to focus on developing, rather than recruiting, talent to be competitive—in the process, they’ll likely find their employees are more engaged and loyal, too.

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2020 Workforce news roundup

The 20 Best Jobs for Work-Life Balance (Business Insider): Work-life balance is becoming more of a priority for employees as new technology makes it easy for work to follow us home. According to a recent Glassdoor survey, employees in some professions may find the balance easier than others.

How instant feedback during an interview can change a career (Fast Company): Some companies are providing feedback during an interview—if a candidate doesn’t respond well in an interview, he or she may not respond well as an employee, either.

Search for talent in hotel’s front-desk position (The Malaysian Reserve): As tourism in Malaysia is expected to increase over the next few years, the hospitality industry is seeking front-desk talent with strong English and communication skills. Recruiting employees with English skills is a challenge, but many hotels are investing in English courses for their employees instead.

Just Whose Job is it to Train Workers? (Wall Street Journal): Many companies are struggling to find employees with the skills they need—but perhaps they should be investing in training and development instead of recruiting from an increasingly narrow pool of applicants.

Indian firms more focused on technical skills than cultural fit

A new study from TimesJobs.com reports that nearly half of firms in India ignore cultural fit when hiring employees, focusing instead on technical skills, according to The Economic Times.

The preliminary results from our survey point to similar conclusions. So far, our results suggest that Indian firms are less likely to focus on “soft” skills (e.g., creativity, empathy, collaboration) when assessing employees. Employees are also lukewarm when it comes to desire for a strong corporate culture and colleagues they like, favoring opportunities for training and education, compensation, and a stronger company brand.

We’ll have the final results from our survey of 2,700 employees and 2,700 executives next week. Once we do, we’ll be producing 27 country fact sheets that dive into these kinds of key variations.

Digital monitoring helps employers – but what about employees?

New technology is changing the way companies track and manage employee performance. In particular, digital monitoring is growing in popularity, resulting in big payoffs for employers. According to The New York Times, companies that are digitally tracking performance are learning about how their employees work together and how to spot the most productive workers.

Digital monitoring is just one of the ways analytics is changing the workplace. Many employers are using physiolytics to translate data from wearable devices into feedback on performance in real-time.

According to this article from The Harvard Business Review:

At a distribution center in Ireland, Tesco workers move among 87 aisles of three-story shelves. Many wear armbands that track the goods they’re gathering, freeing up time they would otherwise spend marking clipboards. A band also allots tasks to the wearer, forecasts his completion time, and quantifies his precise movements among the facility’s 9.6 miles of shelving and 111 loading bays. A 2.8-inch display provides analytical feedback, verifying the correct fulfillment of an order, for instance, or nudging a worker whose order is short.

Privacy is still a concern, as employees may not be comfortable with providing their managers with so much personal data. To make this work, companies must adopt strict privacy policies and maintain transparency throughout the process. Leaving those concerns unaddressed may cause employees—including top talent—to leave their jobs.  But with the right procedures in place, monitoring employee performance could lead to big business benefits.

2020 Workforce news roundup

CFOs Expect Labor Unrest Will Hit Economic Growth in Latin America (Wall Street Journal): A new study from Duke University and CFO Magazine found that nearly three-quarters of Latin American survey respondents say they expect strikes and unrest to affect their country’s over the next year—significantly more than respondents in any other region.

Singapore workers view job as just ‘way to make living’  (The Global Recruiter): According to a recent Randstad Workmonitor survey, three-quarters of respondents in Singapore say they are only at their job to make a living, and 80% say they would not hesitate to leave their jobs for more money.

Bridging the job skills gap around the developing world (Washington Post): The Results for Development Institute estimates that by 2030, there will be 3.5 billion people in the global workforce, 1 billion of whom will not have the necessary skills to find a job.

Yahoo, LinkedIn, Google: Not A Diverse Club (InformationWeek): Silicon Valley tech companies have finally released their workforce diversity stats—and the numbers are skewed.

China moves to improve worker skills

Employee skill sets are top of mind as demand for digital capabilities increases. The gap between what companies need and what employees have to offer is an issue everywhere, but especially so in China, where over 7 million graduates are entering the workforce this year—many without the skills they need, according to Reuters.

The Chinese government is planning to restructure the education system to address these gaps; by replacing liberal arts courses with technology-focused curriculum, universities hope to produce graduates more suited for today’s workforce. The government is also changing a key college entrance exam, adding a technical section alongside the academic section in the hopes of increasing attendance at vocational schools.

China’s focus on addressing the systemic issues in skills gaps points to the economic impact of a strong, skilled workforce, and the massive effort required to develop it.

The obsolete employee

As more and more jobs become automated, job obsolescence is in the news.  Our preliminary survey data shows that employees are in fact worried about being replaced—positions changing or becoming obsolete is the top concern among the employees we have surveyed so far.

While many tasks may be assigned to machines over the coming years, a recent article from SAP’s Jenny Dearborn argues that there are three main job skills that robots cannot replace:

  • Complex perception and manipulation—These are skills that are performed in an unstructured work environment, involve handling irregular objects, or require tactile feedback. A surgeon is a good example of a role that involves these tasks.
  • Creative intelligence—Creativity involves both novelty and value, which are challenging for a computer, because both vary by culture and over time. Examples include fashion designers and biological scientists.
  • Social intelligence—Social intelligence is fundamental to professions involving negotiation, persuasion, leadership, or high-touch care. Examples are public relations specialists, event planners, psychologists, and CEOs.”

Employees who demonstrate social intelligence, creativity, and the ability to handle complexity are likely to contribute a great deal to their companies—but according to our survey results, these skills may be undervalued by executives looking to hire. We’ll have more to report soon—stay tuned.