Re­cruit­ing, re­tain­ing good work­ers won’t get any eas­ier in 2017

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - Lauren Sveen is owner and pres­i­dent of Corps Team Den­ver, a na­tional tal­ent ac­qui­si­tion firm spe­cial­iz­ing in con­nect­ing high-growth firms with high-cal­iber tal­ent. She is a soughtafter speaker on em­ploy­ment trends, or­ga­ni­za­tional strat­egy and work/life in

This is the time of year when prog­nos­ti­ca­tors peer into their crys­tal balls and pro­vide us with a look into the up­com­ing year. While I’d never claim to be skilled at pre­dict­ing the fu­ture, I can tell you that from where I sit and from what I hear from my clients, find­ing tal­ented work­ers will likely re­main a chal­lenge in the new year.

When it comes to of­fi­cial fore­casts, the Gov­er­nor’s Of­fice of State Plan­ning and Bud­get­ing re­leased its lat­est eco­nomic data in Septem­ber and called for tight la­bor mar­ket con­di­tions to con­tinue. Colorado’s un­em­ploy­ment rate was 3.8 per­cent in Oc­to­ber, higher than ear­lier in the year, but still well be­low the na­tional av­er­age of 5 per­cent.

I’ve talked a lot this year about the var­i­ous strate­gies em­ploy­ers are us­ing to at­tract and re­tain pro­fes­sion­als in light of the state’s la­bor short­ages. With qual­ity tal­ent ex­pected to be in short sup­ply again in 2017, here’s a look at the re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion trends that I ex­pect em­ploy­ers to em­brace. • In­creased hir­ing of con­tract/

free­lance pro­fes­sion­als. Call it the ex­pan­sion of the “gig” econ­omy. For a few years now, em­ploy­ers have de­pended more on con­tin­gency work­ers to fill project needs or help achieve spe­cific goals. These types of work­ers give em­ploy­ers the abil­ity to ramp up when they need to most, with pro­fes­sion­als who are highly skilled and don’t carry the same costs as full-time em­ploy­ees. Con­tin­gency work­ers may be­come more im­por­tant de­pend­ing on the fate of a new La­bor Depart­ment rule that would make more salaried work­ers el­i­gi­ble for over­time pay. Last month, a fed­eral judge blocked the rule from taking ef­fect. In any event, the soft­ware com­pany Field­grass, which has sur­veyed com­pa­nies on the use of free­lancers, ex­pects that by next year, the av­er­age busi­nesses’ work­force will con­sist of 25 per­cent con­tin­gency work­ers and 41 per­cent tra­di­tional full-time em­ploy­ees, with the re­main­ing group fit­ting into both cat­e­gories and pos­si­bly work­ing re­motely or part-time.

• The rise of re­turn­ships. This is another great way for em­ploy­ers to gain ac­cess to highly-qual­i­fied work­ers who are ea­ger to up­date their skills af­ter a break from the work­force. Like tra­di­tional in­tern­ships, it also gives an em­ployer the op­por­tu­nity to test a prospec­tive em­ployee be­fore mak­ing them a per­ma­nent hire. The ar­range­ment varies by em­ployer in terms of length and pay, with some par­tic­i­pants be­com­ing full-time em­ploy­ees af­ter the pro­gram. Gold­man Sachs is a re­turn­ship pi­o­neer, hav­ing launched its pro­gram in 2008. But sev­eral other com­pa­nies have fol­lowed in the years since, in­clud­ing Mor­gan Stan­ley, Gen­eral Mo­tors and GoDaddy. • Greater ac­cep­tance of boomerang em­ploy­ees. In the old days, when an em­ployee left a com­pany, they es­sen­tially cut ties for good. But with good tal­ent hard to come by, em­ploy­ers are now more open to the idea of wel­com­ing back for­mer em­ploy­ees who left for other op­por­tu­ni­ties or re­tired al­to­gether. Work­ sur­veyed more than 1,800 hu­man re­source pro­fes­sion­als and found that more than half give higher pri­or­ity to can­di­dates who were for- mer em­ploy­ees who left in good stand­ing. Of those who re­ceived ap­pli­ca­tions from for­mer em­ploy­ees, 40 per­cent said they hired about half of the for­mer em­ploy­ees who ap­plied. For­mer em­ploy­ees are pre­ferred, said sur­vey re­spon­dents, be­cause they re­quire less train­ing and are fa­mil­iar with the com­pany’s cul­ture. • More fo­cus on screen­ing. Since re­cruit­ing takes up pre­cious time and re­sources, em­ploy­ers want to in­crease their chance of land­ing the right fit the first time. As a re­sult, more or­ga­ni­za­tions are em­ploy­ing per­son­al­ity tests and other screen­ing mech­a­nisms to weed out can­di­dates who won’t make the cut. In 2014, 62 per­cent of HR pro­fes­sion­als were em­ploy­ing per­son­al­ity tests to vet can­di­dates, ac­cord­ing to the busi­ness ad­vi­sory firm CEB. That’s up from 2010, when less than half of hir­ing man­agers were uti­liz­ing per­son­al­ity as­sess­ments. While some of these tests have been around for decades, I ex­pect them to be used more fre­quently as em­ploy­ers search for ways to en­sure a good match. Ask­ing ap­pli­cants to cre­ate video pre­sen­ta­tions or in­ter­views of them­selves is also be­com­ing more pop­u­lar, par­tic­u­larly among em­ploy­ers who want to see first-hand if a can­di­date will fit their cul­ture be­fore they’re in­vited in for an in­ter­view. • Bet­ter en­gage­ment ef­forts. As mil­len­ni­als be­come a big­ger por­tion of the work­force, com­pa­nies will need to in­crease their ef­forts to con­nect these younger work­ers to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s cul­ture. I am al­ready see­ing this with some of my clients, who have re­placed an­nual or semi-an­nual re­views with more fre­quent feed­back ses­sions (which mil­len­ni­als of­ten crave) and have pro­vided younger pro­fes­sion­als with a clearer path to pro­mo­tion. A friend who works for a start-up notes that her firm en­gages em­ploy­ees by of­fer­ing trans­parency and com­mu­ni­cat­ing reg­u­larly about chal­lenges and changes in strat­egy. Com­pa­nies are also try­ing to en­gage em­ploy­ees through ex­panded ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing flex­i­ble sched­ules and perks such as free lunches and ski passes. This is an evolv­ing area, so I an­tic­i­pate that com­pa­nies will con­tinue to throw a lot of dif­fer­ent ap­proaches at the wall un­til they find some­thing that sticks.

Although it will likely re­main a seller’s mar­ket next year, the buy­ers — or in this case em­ploy­ers — will have high ex­pec­ta­tions for the pro­fes­sion­als they bring into the fold. New hires will be ex­pected to con­trib­ute quickly with­out a lot of hand-hold­ing. While younger work­ers might get a bit more slack be­cause of in­ex­pe­ri­ence, the honey­moon pe­riod for new re­cruits will be a lot shorter than in years’ past. Here’s to a pro­duc­tive and prof­itable 2017 for Colorado busi­nesses.

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