Solving the Talent Shortage: Advice for Companies

“I’ve got too many people I don’t want and not enough people I do.”  I was talking to a former colleague last week, and that is how he described the current state of talent at his organization.  

He’s not alone: In ManpowerGroup’s 2015 Talent Shortage study, we talked to 41,000 hiring managers around the world, and found that 38% of them are having greater difficulty filling jobs this year, compared to last.  This is the highest rate we’ve seen since 2007.  Talent gaps impact competitiveness, increase turnover amongst existing staff, and can result in a failure to meet customer demands. This talent shortage is in line with the gradually increasing number of job openings in the US (a little over 5 million currently) and the decreasing rate of unemployment.

Juxtapose this with the reality that in the month of April alone, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.8 million American workers were laid off or discharged from their jobs. That number is staggering!  So, we’ve got companies hiring, companies firing, and people looking for quality work, while businesses as a whole are having difficulty filling open roles. Overall, there is more hiring than layoffs, but a lot of talent is sitting on the bench wanting to be in the game.

So, what’s a hiring manager to do?  I see the smartest companies taking these approaches and they might work for your organization as well:

  1. Assess your workforce in smarter ways. This involves analytics, but also evaluating the talent currently in place, the talent needed in the future, and strategizing how to bridge the gap. In addition to skills and experience, a smart assessment factors in ambitions, motivations, performance, and psychological profiles of employees.

  2. Enable flexible career development and talent mobility.  Making it easy for people to learn and grow and move within the organization is a hallmark of successful companies. (Unfortunately, over 50% don’t do it well, according to our surveys of employees.) The career lattice – creating career paths that flow up, down, and sideways – is rapidly moving from a competitive advantage to a must-have, based on workers’ desire for more flexible careers.

  3. Look for talent in new places. Searching in the same places as your competitors or the same places you’ve always gone is going to get the same results you’ve always had.  I’m seeing more and more companies hiring from up and down stream in their supply chain, collaborating with others in the industry, and actively looking for adjacent skill sets to meet future talent needs. When you stop being a slave to a position description, a world of opportunities may open up to find great workers.

  4. Build your reputation as a great place to work. You might have a ton of great job openings, but if your reputation is not stellar, the best talent won’t even apply. This isn’t just about pay and benefits and summer hours.  It’s about building engagement, fostering strong rapport even with those who leave the organization, and delivering on promises to develop your people’s careers as long as they work for you (and even after an employee has become an alumnus).

In my next blog, I’ll discuss ways that job seekers can make the connections to the right companies and get back into the game.


Rate this article
5 4 3 2 1