Economist on Talent

Some timely tidbits from The Economist (Oct 7th edition) in their Survey of Talent:

The shift in the balance of power between workers and organizations is particularly noticeable among top talent and among young workers . . . technology starts routinely hop from job to job. A growing number of high-flying managers change organizations on the way to the top. Young high-fliers are also finicky about jobs. They have a strong sense of their market value: unemployment among American graduates is currently around 2%, and that is before the baby-boomers have started to retire in earnest. […]

What should companies do to convince brainy people to work for them? The Corporate Executive Board argues that they need to focus on their “employment value proposition”. The EVP is what employees get out of working for a particular organization. Obviously pay and benefits are a big part of that. Bu there is much more – from a congenial culture to the changes to develop their skills . . .

More broadly speaking:

The CEB argues that the rewards for managing an EVP effectively are huge, increasing a company’s pool of potential workers by 20% and the commitment of its employees fourfold. It can even reduce the payroll: companies with well-managed EVPs get away with paying 10% less than those with badly managed EVPs. But most companies are falling down on this job. 3/4th of new recruits feel that their employers are failing to deliver on their promises, making the recruits feel less committed to their work.

A likely bit of fallout from, say, hiring thousands of kids in a rush to fill billets.

And on learning at work:

The most important thing that companies can do to attract talented people is to boost their worker’s long-term employability. Employees no longer expect companies to offer job security [not necessarily an issues in the IC – MT] (according to one survey, 95% of those questioned thought that it was they, not their employers who were responsible for that). But they do expect their employers to help them keep their skills up to date.

Now go back and look at those Human Capital Survey numbers (an alarm should be going off).

Most companies make much of their corporate universes and their online training, but there is often less to these than meets the eye. The CEB found that company investment in learning and development in American in 2004-2006 barely kept up with inflation. The average company spends only $800 per employee per year, about 1.25% of the annual payroll. The average company provides training for only 2/3rds of its employees, and some do much less.

Clearly the best way for companies to win the talent wars is to turn themselves into learning organizations. The trouble is that few of them know how to do this.

Something to consider when considering consultant pitches start. ODNI’s response? Show me the results (in past jobs) before I show you the money.

Bottom line: The cachet of being “from the government” isn’t going to carry very far with the workforce of the future, even in the IC. Post 9/11 fervor will wane, if it has not done so already, and there had better be more substance than flash when the buzz wears off. It is OK to stumble because most everyone else is too, but we’ve got to be back up on our feet faster than everyone else if we’re going to be successful.