A coming wave of jobs - no, really - will mean 'help wanted' across a range of professions. How American firms and workers can prepare for the ride.
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Because of these collaborations, Gadaire says, "we give the companies and the workers here in Holyoke a fighting chance."Skip to next paragraph
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Still, preparing the workforce of tomorrow often comes down to individuals doing what it takes to make the transition. Consider Carole Barnaby, a Holyoke native who worked at an A&P grocery store for 32 years before losing her job when the store was bought out in April. Now, she's familiarizing herself with Microsoft Windows, thanks to CareerPoint's computer lab, and preparing to start an office-assistant course at Holyoke Community College."Without this schooling, I'd have to stay at a level I don't want to be at," she says. "I want to progress to something - probably management."
Up to half of American employees are ready to pounce on better job opportunities if they come along in the next two years. The average replacement cost for each: $50,000.
If 30 percent of Americans act on that desire for change, employers could face collective turnover costs of $590 billion, according to Spherion, a recruiting and outsourcing company in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
High unemployment figures make it difficult for companies to prepare for a future talent war, but experts say such competition could be just around the corner, if the economy picks up as predicted.
"Employers need to recognize they're going to be in a sellers' market again, but a lot are locked into buyers' market attitudes," says Roger Herman, lead author of "Impending Crisis: Too Many Jobs, Too Few People."
Two recent studies offer some warning signs. Walker Information, a research and consulting firm in Indianapolis, just released its 2003 workplace loyalty report. The national survey of employees in businesses, nonprofits, and government found that 34 percent do not plan to stay in their jobs for the next two years. Another 31 percent are characterized as "trapped": They'll stay, but only because they don't believe they have any good alternative.
Showing genuine concern for employees and offering opportunities for long-term career development are key to building loyalty, the survey found. But less than half the respondents said their employers do so.
The 2003 Emerging Workforce Study conducted by Harris Interactive for Spherion found that work-life balance is the No. 1 career priority for 86 percent of employees.
But even if companies can entice people to stay longer with family-friendly benefits, they also have to adapt to a new breed of worker - one who's inclined to want a change every few years.
Since the late 1990s, Spherion has been tracking the growth of a group it calls "emergent workers" - people who feel in control of their career and want to be rewarded on the basis of performance rather than traditional measures such as seniority. A third of Americans fit in this category. Another 50 percent are shifting away from the traditional mind-set.
It may surprise some people to know that "emergent workers" include older Americans, not just Gen-Xers.
"We as employers have [said] 'Take charge of your career; we're going to be less paternalistic, we're not going to have the retirement benefits, the work-life benefits. You're going to have to have more flexibility,' " says Robert Morgan, president of Spherion's employment solutions group. "At the same time, we're laying people off - so we've conditioned workers to be loyal to themselves and loyal to their career versus being blindly loyal to the company."
Rather than clinging to the security of their jobs during this period of unemployment, 51 percent said they were very or extremely likely to look for a new work situation within the next year. And 54 percent were confident they could earn a stable income outside the traditional corporate structure.
Workplaces that offer training, mentoring, and a management culture that involves employees in decisionmaking are likely to come out ahead in this new labor landscape, consultants say.
One model cited by Mr. Herman is Baptist Health Care in Pensacola, Fla.
In five years, it reduced employee turnover by 50 percent. All new hires have at least one interview with a peer from the department they'll be working in; employees go through 60 hours of training and development yearly; and 90 percent of the staff shows up for quarterly forums with top executives - sometimes held in the middle of the night for the late shift.
"It's much more expensive to continually hire new people and orient them ... than it is to work with the people who have experience and the knowledge of your customers, and keep them in the fold," Herman says. "But unfortunately a lot of senior [executives] aren't seeing that yet."