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Managing Organizational Change for Growth

A 2015 CEO Talent Summit Solutions Exchange

The following points summarize the discussion held on this topic during this CEO Solution Exchange at the 2015 CEO Talent Summit in Dallas, TX, Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2015:

The crisis for talent is here now, and everyone is feeling the pinch today. “We are hiring 1,200 employees per year,” one participant said. “We have over 300 open positions – some of which have been open for months, even years. We do not fill a position unless we find the right person.”

General talent challenges:

  • There are fewer available candidates in the talent pool
  • A decline in graduating architects, engineers, capable business candidates
  • This shortage extends up and down the talent capabilities ladder, from professionals to skilled hourly workers

Skilled production staffing challenges:

  • Existing skilled employees are aging and will retire
  • Companies must formalize efforts to capture and transfer the knowledge of veteran, skilled employees—they must effectively pass on their expertise and craftsmanship before they retire
  • A career “on the factory floor” (along with vocational trades [plumber, electrician, maintenance, driving a truck]) has become stigmatized by the younger generation
    • Current employees with these skills are making good money ($70-80K!)
    • We are not sure why the lure of stable, significant incomes is not adequate to overcome the negative perception of these jobs

We have brought this crisis upon ourselves. The entire societal and educational system has created the perception that one can only succeed with a college education—an essential prerequisite for achieving “The American Dream”. This is a huge public relations challenge for business owners. It is clear that not all high school students are well-served by pursuing college degrees.

Attracting today’s top talent—millennials:

  • We are surprised and frustrated by the fact that many recent college grads are not employed and yet it is difficult to attract qualified talent to our companies
  • Businesses today must understand and accommodate the attitudes and needs of millennials
  • Have a fully formalized “marketing recruiting package” that persuades candidates to join your company
  • Candidates do not know who you are—this has a significant negative impact on attracting top candidates
  • They cannot ALL work for Google

Solution: Get involved with the education system:

  • We need to get involved in our local education systems and promote the value of a non-college career track
  • We need to help high schools develop a positive image for these careers and effective programs for vocational training
  • These are high-paying jobs, with rewarding work content; not all production environments fit the stereotype of “dark, dirty, hot, unpleasant” factories of the past
  • We need to reinvent the shop floor
  • Think hard about improving the quality of your work environment so careers in this area are not DOA
  • Form a coalition of local businesses (you don’t need to undertake this on your own)
  • Invest in the local school system; provide the local high schools with the equipment and trained teachers they otherwise cannot afford; set up training programs for the skills you need.
  • These are worthwhile educational programs that are superior to the traditional “shop class” programs of yesteryear and will be supported by the school systems
  • Take an active role in providing support for career days at your local schools
  • Host open houses at your place of business
  • Get involved early (high school and junior high) in trying to change this generation’s perception; emphasize the value created by these positions and feature the income potential

One participant successfully commissioned a company promotional video showcasing their business (employment opportunities, career paths and a strong dose of “Who We Are”).  This did not cost a lot of money and had an immediate impact on applications for posted jobs.

  • Make these company promotional items available in media venues used by millennials (online, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
  • Create co-op positions and internships—make them meaningful

One participant’s company is growing and they had no room for the college interns. They fixed up an old storage room with a dozen desks and put all of the interns in the box. Rather than feel that they had been put in a closet, the interns were actually concerned that the “regular employees” outside of the ‘Fish Bowl’ would become jealous of the highly interactive, social culture they enjoyed!

  • Keep in mind that we may not be able to hire the skills that we need—this is OK, if we adopt the “hire for attitude, train for skills” approach espoused by Southwest Airlines
  • Will millennials’ values and job expectations change as they buy homes, marry, have children?
  • Will they become less idealistic and impatient and guided more by the need for stable careers and steady income streams as they take on fixed life responsibilities? We must wait and see!

Facilitator: Steve Rutan, Rutan Management Consulting


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