The UK is in the midst of a talent crisis and HR leaders need to work harder to shape the workforce of the future, with inspirational leadership, job purpose and flexibility all vital to understanding the new face of work.
This was the theme of a Changeboard roundtable in November in association with SuccessFactors, an SAP company, held under the Chatham House Rule.
Keynote speaker Colin Hatfield, senior partner at Visible Leaders, began by examining SuccessFactors’ recent survey – Workforce 2020 – of 2,718 executives and 2,872 employees, who gave their views on their companies’ readiness for the changing landscape. Hatfield broke the report down into three distinct areas: encouraging, unexpected and frightening.
Encouragement for HR executives comes in the form of planning, with 56% saying their company had an execution plan for achieving workforce management and 68% saying their leadership teams have the skills to effectively manage talent.
However, the report also revealed that HR struggles to understand the next generation of workers, often relying on stereotypes, according to Hatfield. This led to a series of unexpected facts about Generation Y expectations.
For example, while Millennials are often criticised for choosing quality of life over career progression, the survey discovered only 42% would do so, which is compared with 54% of non-Millennials.
Nearly half of executives (45%) believe Millennials are frustrated with manager quality, but just 8% actually are, and 46% think a lack of leadership and development causes Millennials to leave jobs, but only 18% of Millennials agree.
From Hatfield’s point of view, this means both that “perception and reality are polarised” when it comes to the subject of future talent, and that HR needs to better understand what Millennials can bring to the business world.
According to one HR director at the table: “Younger generations of workers drive new ways of working, particularly when it comes to technology and people skills. They help us in ways we would never have imagined.”
He had an anecdote about a colleague who wanted to test a potential management pipeline employee by challenging them to decide if a new initiative would benefit the business.
Expecting a drawn-out presentation, his colleague was surprised when the employee returned an hour later and revealed he posted the idea on Twitter and that several thousand people had thought it a good idea, so he recommended proceeding with it.