As I was writing Silicon Collar over the last year, I got to see the impact machines are having on jobs and workers in over 50 settings. I looked at work in accounting firms, in banks, on the battlefront, in digital agencies, in garbage collection, in the oil patch, in restaurants, in R&D labs, on shop floors, in the warehouse, in wineries and many more. Just based on those case studies, I could say HCM is going through a major transition. But I did so with Brexit and the US Presidential campaign in background and the talk about “middle class squeeze”, angry workers “who have been left behind”, and that 6 out of 10 Americans say the “economy is on the wrong track”. That made me look at US IRS, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census and other data to get a better handle on the actual state of the labor economy. The end result – I am firmly convinced HCM executives are in for a dramatic jolt. They face massive opportunities and challenges.
Here are some insights as many executives convene in Chicago for the HR Tech show
a) Machines are becoming a bigger source of “talent”
In the book, I discuss workers being assisted by machine learning, robotics, drones, wearables, process bots, exoskeletons and many other forms of automation. All that technology is a form of talent, but HCM executives have not taken the lead in its deployment. Organizational ownership of “machines” is fragmented—the plant manager likely knows about shop ﬂoor robots, and someone in IT may know how many web services or service bots are deployed, but few companies have an executive responsible for coordinating all their automation efforts. It is an opportunity for HCM execs to step up.
b) Full-time employees are becoming an even smaller portion of the human talent mix
We have used contract labor for a long time. In the new “gig economy” the percent of full-time employee talent is even smaller.
Apple may be an extreme example, but has several thousand employees who develop products which are then sold in its retail stores. Its contract manufacturer, Foxconn, employs thousands of employees and robots in its manufacturing plants in China. Those plants also have interns and other staff hired through third-party recruitment ﬁrms. Apple’s third-party logistics providers like FedEx have a similar mix of man and machine. There are also millions of associated jobs that are not on Apple’s payroll around the apps, music, movies, books, and other items in the Apple ecosystem.
Most other companies are moving to similar models. The talent in the platform, franchise, outsourced ecosystem is rarely controlled by the HCM exec. If they want to continue to be recognized as the Chief Talent Officer, they will need to get involved in sourcing and managing these new forms of talent.
c) Recruiting and retention policies are outdated
The student loan crisis has many root causes, but one most certainly is what Wikipedia calls “credentialism.” There are some jobs which used to require a high school diploma, such as construction supervisors, loans ofﬁcers, insurance clerks and executive assistants, that are increasingly requiring a bachelor’s degree. Who writes those job specs? And who makes candidates jump through hoops? The Glassdoor site (where employees post candid reviews about employers) said on its blog: “Talk to anyone trying to ﬁnd a job, and you’ll hear the same old groans. ‘Job hunting is a black hole.’ ‘This whole process is demoralizing.’ ‘I feel like I’m spinning in circles.’ It’s no secret that recruiting is broken. The current process leaves both parties—recruiters and candidates alike—exhausted. It’s time that companies make improvements or risk damaging their brand.” And many should reconsider going back to apprentice models and de-emphasizing formal degrees and focusing on more just-in-time, new ways of video and other interactive “learning”
d) Workers are becoming much more mobile
HCM executives need to face up to another reality in the workforce. Never before have workers had so much choice in jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies workers into one of 840 detailed occupations. CareerPlanners.com does an even more granular listing and lists 12,000 separate jobs.
There are so many “new gen” opportunities — franchises (about 10 million jobs), platforms (Apple, Amazon fulfillment, eBay work at home, Uber etc — about 20 million part time for now but rapidly changing ), new services — alternative healthcare, ethnic groceries, pet/child care etc.(another 5 million). I am not even including Silicon Valley type entrepreneurship opportunities in energy, space, food, IT etc.
Never before have workers had a chance to get second, third, later acts in our careers. In the book, I catalog many who keep evolving and thriving. The average person born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957–1964) held 11.7 jobs from age 18 to age 48, according to the BLS.
That means HCM executives will have way more competition for talent. This when most employer brands have been tarnished by waves of layoffs, offshoring and other moves.
Lots of opportunities. Even more challenges for HCM execs. As the Chinese saying summarizes in masterful understatement “May you live in interesting times.”
(Cross-posted @ Deal Architect)