7 Trends That Will Change the Way You Hire, Manage, and Retain in 2015

“Average is over,” according to Tom Friedman and the pace of change is accelerating.  These trends spell both doom and opportunity to the world of human resources. Beneath the cloud of these megatrends lies a groundswell of trends likely to change the way companies hire, manage, and motivate employees.

What are these trends that will pop-up during the year that will disrupt and potentially derail many company strategic and business plans?  What do these trends mean for companies that plan to grow with more skilled workers.

New Skills#1 – Skills gaps will widen and worsen. Increasing productivity is the key to remaining competitive. As a result, the competition for workers with the right skills and temperament will increase dramatically.

#2 – Skilled worker wages will rise.  The price to attract and retain a skilled worker will rise. In some industries and/or geographies the increases may be substantial.  Wages for the “typical” worker with average- or low-skills will continue to stagnate – unless of course it is artificially propped up by minimum wage legislation.

#3 – Flying by the seat of your HR pants is dead. HR analytics if available at all has been abysmal. Traditional means of recruiting, screening, and selection are becoming increasingly ineffective. Hunches and gut instinct have no place in talent management. The need to manage talent with the scrutiny and precision companies use for cash flow, inventory, logistics, and supply chain is here and now.

#4 – Source wider and mine deeper. To find talent companies will need to throw out a wide net. That means the quantity of applicants will increase. The diamond in the rough will be buried deeper. Recruiters will need to mine more data faster and more accurately, requiring the use of technology.

#5 – One HR hat does not fill all.  Managing compensation, benefits, and compliance is overwhelming.  Recruiting and retention becomes an after-thought. Like most other jobs, the skill requirements for HR positions are changing. The sooner those companies realize that sourcing, recruiting, selection, and retention require specialized skills and dedicated responsibilities, the more effectively they will compete in the war for talent.

#6 – The employee turnover door will revolve faster. With rising demand comes increased employee turnover. A recent ADP report revealed that turnover is on the rise. But so far the change has been largely industry and/or geography specific. Turnover is not universal – yet. But that should not lull companies into complacency. The competition for key skilled workers is just heating up.  With wage growth for a worker who changes jobs nearly 500 percent more than those who stay (ADP Workforce Vitality Index 2014), companies will need to improve employee engagement significantly and compensate competitively and aggressively.

#7 – Company-led training and development is overdue. As business models evolve and get cannibalized by new technologies, employees need to stay employable and job ready. Waiting for the government and academia to fix the skills gap is foolish. As the comedian Ron White says, “you can’t fix stupid.” Re-skilling America won’t happen over-night. For the time being, companies that expect to have an ample supply of skilled workers need to provide the training and resources to upgrade skills and the opportunity to re-train for new jobs.

4 Types of Workaholics: Which One Are You?

How many people do you know who are afflicted with workaholism?  Our research has recognized 4 types.  You might even recognized yourself in one of the types.

First, let’s sort out a little confusion. Often times employee engagement is confused with workaholism. While many of you may work hard and be engaged, others might be busting your butt…and disengaged.

multitasking workaholicMichael Haberman in a recent post nailed it when he wrote “being a workaholic is not the same as being engaged.”

Engagement is positive. Despite the hard work, long hours, and sacrifice, some people truly love their work. In a quote attributed to Confucious, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” That’s engagement.

Workaholism, on the other hand, is negative, according to University of Georgia professor Lindsay Lavine.

According to Clark and her team, workaholism is like an addiction. Like the addict, workaholics experience the initial “high” but quickly get overwhelmed, stressed, and irritated. Work isn’t fun but something they must do. They can’t stop thinking about it. They become obsessed. They work more and work harder to get another high.

For the workaholic, self-esteem is intertwined with work. If not working hard and/or not getting acknowledgement for all his sacrifice, his ego is hurt. Work isn’t a means to an end – it is the end figuratively and literally.

Workaholics defend their addiction like alcoholics defend their drinking. They make excuses. Beyond the stereotypical denial, they downplay and deny the problem. They rationalize by blaming others for the workload. “What does it matter? I’m not hurting anyone but myself,” they say. “I can stop anytime I want,” they tell themselves.

Companies, management, and even society even encourage and reward workaholism. Workaholics are applauded and put on a pedestal for their dedication, commitment, and loyalty just like the alcoholic is “admired” for the amount of alcohol he can consume and still appear sober.  Rewarding workaholism is like designating the alcoholic as your driver because he’s the most sober in the group. No matter how much he contests or you rationalize, he’s still impaired.

Ultimately workaholism takes a personal toll. The associated negativity and stress doesn’t stop at the office because even when the workaholic isn’t at work, he’s thinking about it. From broken marriages to stress-related illness addiction to work carries a heavy price. Divorce, family conflict, and poor health (both mental and physical) are all possible consequences of workaholism.

Employers might ignore these personal issues if the problems don’t just stop there.  But workaholics make more mistakes. They are involved in more accidents. Their workaholism becomes their badge of courage. It becomes synonymous with self-esteem. Decisions they make are made to protect pride or build ego, not for the good of the team and company. Many workaholics are sleep deprived.  Others are so stressed and burned out that clarity is long gone.

A propensity for workaholism can be uncovered using the Quality of Motivation Questionnaire. It’s important for individuals and organizations to recognize workaholism and help those “afflicted” to it.  Managers need to encourage engagement and not contribute to workaholism. The consequences and implications can be devastating to the employee and the company.

Here are four types of workaholics we have identified:

1. Defeatism. The defeatist denies himself pleasure. This is one of the strongest drivers of workaholism. Excuses abound for the defeatist in action:

“I don’t have the time.”

“I don’t deserve it.”

“The work will just pile up if I took any time off.”

The defeatist gets his fix through personal sacrifice. He’s the one who works late and misses his children’s game and school play so a co-worker can go golfing or get a manicure. He’s the one that gives up his favorite lunch because a co-worker forgot hers. The “thank you” initiates a warm feeling – it’s the quick fix. Unfortunately the guilt sets in soon after he realizes he missed again something he might enjoy.

2. Sabotage. The saboteur loses things he values… or at least used to value. Carelessness marks the workaholic afflicted with self-sabotage because he’s distracted and obsessed with work. He might neglect his health – no time to waste at a doctor’s office. He forgets his wife’s birthday and cancels an anniversary dinner because his boss asked him to finish a project. He misplaces a “thumb drive” that has all of his presentations on it but didn’t take time to back it up.

3. Punishment. This is the one of the most common causes of workaholism. “Nothing comes easy” and “no-pain-no-gain” have become the battle cry of the American work ethic. Now I’ll be the first to admit that effort and sacrifice are essential ingredients for success.  In fact, some degree of self- punishment is required to build pride.  It’s a given that we gain confidence when we push ourselves beyond our comfort zone and achieve something we didn’t think we could do. But when hard work becomes addiction to work, we begin to take more and more risks. We build a tolerance and then have something more to prove. If something isn’t working out despite all our effort and hard work, it must be because we aren’t working hard enough!  Punishment once engaged becomes a self-sustaining negative behavior. We ignore warning signs and endure unhealthy levels of pain and stress. We become overconfident in our ability to recognize our limits. Courage leads to fearlessness and then to recklessness. The punisher starts by injuring only himself but over time begins to put others at risk too.

4. Martyrdom. Misery loves company personifies this behavior. This is the “woe is me” source of workaholism. It stems from a sense of hopelessness and futility.  Even when opportunities to lessen the workload or get relief present themselves, the martyr declines the help.  “What difference will it make?” he thinks.  “You just can’t find good help today” brings a chorus of agreement which is exactly the response that gives him the “jolt” to keep going.  At least he feels that someone understands him.  Martyrs don’t really want to stop working so hard. They want others to feel pity and agree that life’s a bitch.

Perhaps you recognize yourself in some of the examples.  What steps should you be taking on the road to recovery?

Success – however you define it – doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice everything. Work-life balance doesn’t work either. It forces you to think about work and life as a tradeoff.  If you think about work or life, you will always think in terms of what you have to give up.

The most successful people in life are those who figure out how to integrate work-and-life. How well are you doing? How successful are you at integrating work and life?

Thankful for Your Employees? Show It This Thanksgiving

Family, friends, and health would likely top many personal lists of gratitude given around the dinner table at Thanksgiving. For most people work is probably low down on the “count my blessings” list.  That wouldn’t be surprising since fewer than 3 out of 10 workers in the U.S. are “engaged” in the workplace. One out of 5 is actually actively disengaged according to Gallup.

The only association between the holiday and the workplace it seems is that it provides a day off.  For a fortunate few it might even mean a long weekend away from the office. For others Thanksgiving has become just another work day due to earlier starts to Black Friday sales.

Despite this disassociation between work and Thanksgiving, the origins of this holiday are rooted in work. At first, Thanksgiving was a day to celebrate the hard-earned bounty of the harvest. The very first Thanksgiving feast in America came about when the Pilgrims wanted to express their gratitude to the Wampanoag Native Americans who had helped them survive their first year in their new home. In a sense, the tradition of Thanksgiving began as a way of celebrating the workplace values of hard work and cooperation.

Since work plays such a vital part of many people’s lives, the American Management Association posed a question to readers of one of its publications. It asked them what made them most thankful at work.

First on the list was “the professional satisfaction it provides me.” The Pilgrims would be beaming with pride since the satisfaction of a job well done was an emotion shared several hundred years earlier.  Pride and fulfillment produce natural highs for employees. As Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” The joy people get from pride in their work is priceless. It’s a simple management principle mostly ignored but when embraced is the gift that just keeps giving.

It should come as no surprise that “my co-workers” came in second. Personal relationships play an important role in our happiness at work. For many workers, co-workers is family. Many of us spend more time at work and with co-workers than with our own families during a typical week. The workplace is where we form some of our closest and most enduring friendships. Friends at work help us deal with stress at work and provide a support network for problems at home.

Work friendships are beneficial from the organization’s perspective as well. Tom Rath in his book Vital Friends reveals that people who have a best friend in their workplace are seven times more likely to be engaged in their work. As a result, these companies have more satisfied customers and tend to innovate and share more new ideas.

Based on years of research by Gallup, Vital Friends also reports that when asked if they would rather have a 10 percent pay raise or a close friend at work, respondents overwhelmingly chose the close friend. That’s a powerful testimonial to the priority that we place on friendship in the workplace.

“My boss” ranked third on the list of things that workers were thankful for. Almost as important as feeling good about the kind of work we do is feeling good about the person we do it for. Contrary to popular opinion that all that employees care about is money, it doesn’t take much to earn the thanks of the people who report to you—show them that you’re grateful for their efforts, and they’ll repay the gratitude.

Not unlike many other surveys, “my salary” ranked lowest on the list.  That’s challenging to management because salary is the easiest tool to use when companies are trying to increase their employee engagement and earn their gratitude.

As we think about what we’re thankful this Thanksgiving, we might want to consider something that many of us take for granted – be thankful for your employees.

Here’s a few very simple, inexpensive but very rewarding things you can do this Thanksgiving to show your gratitude to your employees.

Say Thank You, Of Course!

It’s so simple but so easily forgotten. Showing your appreciation can be as simple as just saying thank you. This is a great time of year to just greet each employee face-to-face and with a handshake. Whenever possible, greet them by name!  It goes a long way.

Hand written notes work well too. By the way, appreciation notes to your customers and vendors are a great idea too.)  Email is acceptable but a poor third choice.  But anything note of appreciate is better than nothing. But even if it has to be email, make sure you address each employee personally. Don’t send out a generic message. Be as specific as possible. Thank your employees for work on a particular project or extra effort. This is the easiest and most meaningful way to let your employees know you appreciate them and are thankful for their hard work.


What is everyone’s favorite part of Thanksgiving? The food!  Bring in some Thanksgiving-themed treats for your employees to enjoy. Plan a potluck event.  Allow your employees to come together and enjoy the holiday. Nothing says thank you quite like food – except the heartfelt personal thank you.

If you want to go the extra mile, gift cards and/or certificates for free turkeys at the local grocery store work too. And if you want to get the biggest bank for your time and buck, deliver the cards personally.

Flexible Holiday Work Hours!

For many employees, Thanksgiving means family. If possible be flexible with your employees. If you can afford to give them a day off or even just a few hours to prepare dinner or extra travel time to spend time with family, do it.

Show your employees how much you appreciate them this Thanksgiving and deliver a little “thank you.”

Work Ethic: Is There An Ambition Crisis In America?

A lack of work ethic is one of the biggest complaints heard from employers about their workers and job applicants. Just ask just about any manager or business owner who is over 40 years old and the mere mention of “work ethic” into the conversation creates a wince, angst, and maybe even a few colorful words.

screening employeesThe complaints are targeted at mostly young people, the Millennials specifically. For years I’ve defended young people upon the principle that it’s not a lack of work ethic but a different work ethic. My response wasn’t academic or theoretical. It was based on interaction with 20- and 30-somethings working multiple jobs to make ends meet, pay off school loans, support a family and so on.  Just like generations before them, many of these young people I met worked hard – very hard.

***** Listen to this interview with Ira S Wolfe about “Trophy Workers” *****

But over the past few years I began to encounter more and more workers afflicted with “work-ethic-deficiency syndrome.”  Contrary to popular belief, this syndrome affects people of all ages – from the teen worker to the aging Baby Boomer.  A sense of entitlement certainly underlies much of the affliction. Many young people feel entitled to the good life promised them by parents, politicians, and educators.  Older workers feel entitled to security on the job and comfort in retirement in exchange for hard work, sacrifice, and loyalty.  Both groups feel betrayed. For some, they are justified in their disappointment and even resentment. For most people, the problem runs much deeper.

Based on our research, it seems a lack of work ethic is only the symptom. The cause is a lack of ambition.  A quick search for the definition of ambition reveals the following:

  • a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.
  • desire and determination to achieve success.
  • an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.
  • An eager or strong desire to achieve something, such as fame or power.

Note the common thread with descriptors such as strong, determination, earnest, eager, strong.  Desire simply isn’t enough.  What is glaringly missing is the passion, purpose, and pride necessary to convert a want and desire to achievement and success.

Whether it’s the need for immediate gratification, a sense of entitlement, or lack of accountability, it’s clear many workers lack ambition – plain and simple. For sure, I’ll get the argument how hard many people have worked to find a job or remake themselves. I’ve heard in great detail, often flavored with colorful language, about the sacrifices made to secure a college degree. Others point to the number of resumes sent and how many times they were interviewed. I agree these people deserve an “A” for effort.

But effort and ambition are not the same. Ambition requires a passion, intensity, and perseverance.  It includes a sense of optimism and hope that keeps you going when everything seems to be going against you.  Ambition requires effort but making the effort does not qualify as ambition. Effort is ambition without emotion. Without purpose, pride, and passion, people just go through the motions.  They expect success to come to them rather than creating and taking accountability for their own future.

Let me explain.  You won’t produce heat in your fireplace by putting a few logs in the fireplace.  You must find the logs, and then light the fire if you want heat. You then have to add more logs to sustain the heat…and keep doing it over and over to keep the fire burning.

Like the fire, many people believe that acquiring the logs is enough.  Others expect the heat to continue in perpetuity without keeping the fire lit. Ambition is continuous. It derives from a passion to attain personal success and prosperity.

Most people go about achieving success and prosperity backwards.  They expect their purpose, pride, and passion to drive ambition when ambition (along with accountability, awareness, and agility) is what fuels purpose, pride, and passion.

Work-ethics deficiency is an epidemic.  Its root cause is a lack of ambition. The loss of ambition isn’t just a lack of emotional response but the lack of a skill.  Too many people simply have lost the ability to attain things on their own. For those people not waiting for the next handout, there are just as many looking for the safety net.

Life is about finding a purpose, pursuing challenges, taking risks, accepting accountability for mistakes, and learning how to recover from setbacks. While a technical skills gap is hurting and constraining many businesses, an ambition deficit will eventually cripple them.

***** Listen to this interview with Ira S Wolfe about “Trophy Workers” *****

Workers Get “F” for Effort

The debate rages on whether a lack of skilled workers is the reason millions of jobs are going unfilled. I’d like to suggest that it’s not the skills as much as lack of effort. In fact, I give many workers an “F” for effort.

lack of effort by workersBut that doesn’t mean it’s all their fault. That doesn’t mean they don’t try hard. It doesn’t mean that parents, educators, bureaucrats, and employers haven’t contributed to the problem. In fact, they might even have set many workers up for failure.

Graduating valedictorian, getting accepted into a prestigious college, landing a job at a reputable firm are all indications that success will come easy, right?

Not so fast. That is far from a foregone conclusion. New research reveals that the less effort it took to achieve these accomplishments, the more likely the individual will not live up to expectations.

In other words, while a quick mind, a charming personality, and a silver spoon might open up a lot of doors, potential does not always convert to performance. And when it does, a lot of the potential goes unused.

You might ask, why should I care if an employee leaves potential on the table if I’m getting what I want? If 50 percent effort gets the job done, who cares? Yes, that’s true. If the job is routine, predictable, and changes little, then there’s no problem. But what happens with the job requires the employee to adapt quickly, manage and solve unanticipated problems, recognize how one innocent decision might have widespread ramifications? What happens when the environment is in a constant state of flux and uncertainty, ambiguity, and change are the norms?

While admission to a prestigious school like Harvard or Stanford is a significant achievement, it doesn’t guarantee unfettered success. Graduating at the top of your class and being the star quarterback of a championship team means nothing when everything came easy. Natural talent opens doors but only carries you so far. It doesn’t prepare you to deal with those unfriendly and unpredictable life challenges that pop up regardless if you grew up on the streets or in the Hamptons.

It’s EFFORT that makes the difference. It is effort that differentiates those presiding over others because they have the title verses leaders who inspire people and champion change. It differentiates “high-potential” employees who exceed expectations and those whose careers plateau and disappoint. Effort is what allows people to thrive when confronted with the most challenging times in their lives.

Effort is defined as the “conscious exertion of power.” Conscious exertion implies that people have a choice – they can do it or not. We all have met, managed, or even married people who exert themselves a lot. We undoubtedly also can name quite a few people who choose not to make any effort when the road is paved with a few bumps and adversity strikes.

It is becoming painfully clear that we have educated and trained a lot of people for sunny-day success. We’ve done a horrible job at training people to deal with and manage adversity. We’ve educated an entire generation or two to think that failure, setbacks, and unforeseen events can be ignored or outsourced at will.

We’ve removed the option of losing in sports, getting an “F” for a grade, and getting a trophy for just showing up. When a student struggles in school (or an employee struggles at work), it’s rarely the individual’s fault. It’s never due to lack of presonal effort, low motivation, or poor attitude. It’s always because the job is too hard or the manager is unrealistic. We don’t hold people accountable to stretch themselves; we lower our expectations so the individual can win.

We have essentially stopped teaching our children and our workers how to deal with adversity, how to solve difficult problems, and how to achieve? Most importantly we have tied self-esteem to success. A setback or mistake implies failure and damages the psyche. We have become so obsessed with building and protecting self-esteem that we forgot to teach people how to deal with even the normal stress and pain that is part of life. We have dumbed down requirements to get an “A,” graduate from college, and even write a resume. We have prepared people to get an interview and a job, but not to work.

Ironically it is the euphoria of mastering a new skill, overcoming a challenge, or recovering from a setback that builds confidence and self-esteem. It is learning from mistakes and failures that encourage people to grow and develop. We don’t need more people who can survive only when the sun is shining. We need to teach people the skills to thrive when things don’t go their way.

Getting a job is not the destination but the beginning of a journey. Success in life requires a conscious act. Too many “talented” people expect to sleep walk through life. Personal power is what drives effort. Personal power is a skill that too many people lack. It’s time that we begin to teach, train, and develop more people who have the personal power to achieve their own success, to enjoy and appreciate that success, and to most importantly, navigate and manage adversity.

Diversity Trends Changing the Workplace

The population will be increasingly diverse. Over the next 40 years, the white population will decline by about 10% while the Hispanic population will more than double. By 2043, the nation will be majority-minority; by 2050, Hispanics will account for 28% of total population, compared with 47% for non-Hispanic whites.

diversity in the workplaceWhile women now make up nearly half of the workforce, only 4.8 percent of Fortune 500 and 5.2 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions are held by women.  Mary Barra at GM is the highest ranking female CEO. Currently people of color and women only represent about 14.5 percent and 18 percent, respectively, of corporate boards among the senior management of Fortune 500 companies. (Source: Catalyst)

A McKinsey & Company study found that the increase in women’s overall share of labor in the United States—women went from holding 37 percent of all jobs to nearly 50 percent over the past 40 years. That has accounted for about a quarter of current GDP.

Census data tell us that by 2050 there will be no racial or ethnic majority in our country. Further, between 2000 and 2050 new immigrants and their children will account for 83 percent of the growth in the working-age population.

According to the Census Bureau, people of color own 22.1 percent of U.S. businesses. Moreover, women own 28.8 percent of U.S. businesses, and Latina-owned businesses in particular are the fastest-growing segment of the women-owned business market. Women of color own 1.9 million firms.

According to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, gay or transgender individuals own approximately 1.4 million (or approximately 5 percent) of U.S. businesses.

Read more about Generational Diversity

Generation diversity: elephant in workplace?

The mere mention of diversity in the workplace ignites a passionate and varied reaction from … let’s say a diverse group of people.

diversity in the workplaceWhat was once a topic isolated to differences in color and gender now extends into age, ethnicity and even sexual preference.

Whatever your position, world view or personal bias, one thing is for sure: the workplace is more diverse and changing rapidly.

To remain competitive, viable and profitable, companies must continue to capitalize on the growth of women, people of color, ethnicity and gay and transgender people in the labor force.

But many discussions about diversity tend to leave out what is becoming the elephant in the workplace – generational diversity.

For the first time in history, we have five generations working side by side:

• Veterans or traditionalists – born before 1946.

• Baby boomers – 1946 to 1964.

• Generation X – 1965-1980.

• Generation Y (or millennials) – 1981-1998.

And now we have Generation Z, or the “homelanders,” – born after 1998 – coming of work age.

This diversity of age and more importantly world views is something executives and business owners have never had to deal with.

There is no precedent at managing a workforce ranging from 16 to 90 years old. There are no proven management models to follow.

Being the pioneer is risky business but ignoring the reality can be fatal. Each company needs to understand generational dynamics and devise a plan that fits marketplace reality and company culture.

Talent management is no exception.

Each generation is different from its predecessors in a number of ways that affect how employers recruit, manage and retain employees.

While all generations share similar basic needs, motivating and engaging each generation differs. While many companies got away with one-size-fits-all management for the last 50 years, that approach isn’t working anymore.

Even while baby boomers hang on to their jobs longer than expected and the oldest Gen X-ers reach 50 next year, millennials and now Generation Z will make up more than 75 percent of the workforce within the next decade. What works to retain baby boomers won’t attract or retain their replacements.

And these younger generations are the most diverse in history when it comes to color and ethnicity. This isn’t a wave that will hit the front doors of business, but a tsunami that will alter permanently the labor market.

It will be wise for every business to analyze its workforce composition by asking the following questions:

(1) What is the generational composition of your existing workforce (and customer base)?

(2) What will be the composition in five years?

(3) Does the proportion of generations in your workforce reflect the proportion in your industry, your profession and your customer base?

(4) Is there a concentration of one particular generation staff/associate vs. management positions?

(5) Is there a higher attrition rate among members of one generation?

(6) How does the present and future generational composition change the way you will do business?

(7) How will the three- to five-year employment outlook for our region affect our ability to execute your business plans?

Published in Lehigh Valley Business Journal – September 8, 2014


Jobs Disappearing at Accelerating Rate – Is Yours at Risk?

Nearly everyone agrees the world will look different in years to come.  For many, the future has arrived. Robots and other forms of automation are not just destroying jobs at an accelerating pace but driving many occupations into extinction.

For nearly 15 years I warned of a Perfect Labor Storm, a time when work, the workplace, and consequently the workforce would see revolutionary change at an unprecedented pace. I wasn’t the first to forecast the changes we are experiencing now. I wasn’t the loudest voice either. But I was a steady, reliable messenger of a daunting prediction that unfortunately has come true.

I did however underestimate the changes on two accounts.

First, my use of the word “storm” apparently erred on the side of conservatism. While disruptive and often devastating, storms pass. People pick up the pieces and move on. Life is disrupted but not devastated.  Most people go back to living the way it used to be.

But what we are experiencing is not a storm but a “Job Apocalypse”.

Up until now technological progress produces two competing effects: job destruction and increased production. While new technology often replaces workers, the new technology improved productivity, which tends to lower the cost of production, which creates more demand, which creates new jobs.

These new jobs for the most part require new skills. The skills are typically acquired through more advanced education. Workers who acquired the education and skills have been rewarded with good jobs and higher wages.

At least that’s the way it has worked for the past several centuries.

But now technological progress threatens to alter the course of history.

Oxford University researchers Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne in their daunting landmark study give a taste of what’s to come. They estimate that 47 percent of U.S. jobs are at “high risk” of being taken over by robots in the next decade or two. And we’re not talking about just production jobs requiring more low-level skills.  Affected jobs include accountants, physicians, lawyers, and architects Loan officers, tax preparers, paralegals, and even roofers are at risk. Even more susceptible are low-skill-level jobs such as retail cashiers and salespeople, telemarketers, toll booth operators, and postal workers. Even professional drivers (truck, bus, taxi) are at risk. (If you are suspicious, then you are ignoring how the Google car is changing transportation.)

They wrote in their paper:

Our model predicts that most workers in transportation and logistics occupations, together with the bulk of office and administrative support workers, and labor in production occupations, are at risk… More surprisingly, we find that a substantial share of employment in service occupations, where most US job growth has occurred over the past decades (Autor and Dorn, 2013), are highly susceptible to computerization.

robots taking jobWhile the trend in recent decades has been towards a hollowing out of “middle-skill” jobs and an increase in low-paying service sector jobs and high-paying, highly educated jobs, Frey and Osborne expect that automation in the future will mainly substitute for “low-skill and low-wage” jobs.

What’s most troubling about all these changes are that advances in technology and computerization have outpaced our ability to find new uses for labor. In other words, automation has replaced people at a faster rate than demand for products and services has grown meaning the demand for skills has lagged. Since the number of workers with higher education degrees has exploded, many of these higher-skilled workers are accepting jobs traditionally performed by less educated, low-skilled workers.  The minimally-education, low-skill worker is subsequently pushed further down or out of the workforce entirely.

No one knows for sure what the careers of the future will look like. But the people at the cutting edge of workplace and workforce trends are already watching old jobs disappear at an accelerating rate.


The Future of Jobs

Jobs That Will Be Lost to Robots


More about Moms Married with Children

married with childrenMoms married with children hardly fit the Peg Bundy type portrayed in the hit TV show Married with Children.  Here are more stats following a recent post about how Stay-at-Home Moms are presenting yet another challenge in employer’s quest to find skilled workers.

Almost three in 10 mothers with children under 18 living with them are stay-at-home moms.

  • 20 percent of all married mothers with children under 18 stay home — half what it was in 1970.
  • One in five children in the United States today lives with a stay-at-home mother married to a working husband. In 1970, 41 percent of children did.

Married mothers accounted for much of the increase in total labor force participation during the post-World War II period (1946-2000).

  • In 1948, only about 17 percent of married mothers were in the labor force
  • In 1985, 61 percent of married mothers were working or looking for work
  • By 1995, their labor force participation rate had reached 70 percent.

Married mothers aged 25 and older with infants are well educated, on average.

  • Nearly half (47 percent) had a college degree, compared with 35 percent of all married mothers of that age group.  
  • Another 26 percent of married mothers of infants had completed 1 to 3 years of college, compared with 29 percent of all mothers. 
  • After peaking at 71 percent in 1997, the participation rate of those women married with infants and holding a college degree had fallen by about 9 percentage points by 2000.
  • In comparison, the participation rate for mothers with less than a high school diploma fell by 8 percentage points, as did the rate for those with some college.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pew Research Center

Stay-At-Home Moms: Another Skilled Worker Hurdle?

At a time when skilled labor is scarce, stay at home moms point to yet another challenge that management faces when it comes to filling open positions, according to new research from Pew Research Center.

stay at home MomAlmost three in 10 mothers with children under 18 living with them are stay-at-home moms. In the past that would not have been such a big deal. But the education of women has risen dramatically in the post-World War II period. For example:

  • Among all women aged 25 and older, the proportion with at least 1 year of college more than tripled, rising from about 15 percent in 1960 to 53 percent in 2005.  (Among men, this proportion almost tripled, going from 18 percent to 53 percent.) 
  • The participation rate for women with a college degree rose from about 57 percent in 1962 to 73 percent in 2005, while the rate for women with some college (but not a bachelor’s degree) went from 42 percent to 67 percent.

As more jobs require advanced skills and nearly all new jobs require at least some post-secondary education, companies can ill afford to lose even a single skilled worker. But over the past few decades, a critical trend went largely unnoticed. It is now having a major impact on recruitment:

There are more women than men that have been going to and graduating from college.

Women now enroll in greater numbers than men in both undergraduate and graduate institutions. Women age 25 to 34 are now more likely than men of that same age group to have attained a college degree, reversing the norm of 40 years ago.

Among women age 25 to 64 in the labor force, 36 percent held college degrees in 2009, compared to 11 percent in 1970 – nearly 325% increase. In contrast, the share of men with a college degree increased by one-half. By 2019, women are projected to account for nearly 60 percent of total undergraduate enrollment.

Over the same period, the proportion of women workers with less than a high school diploma fell from 34 percent to 7 percent.

The trend in graduate school is similar. In 2008, women accounted for 59 percent of graduate school enrollment. As recently as 1998 more doctoral degrees were conferred to men than to women. A decade later, more doctoral degrees were conferred to women than men.

With more women than men holding the skills needed to do today’s skilled labor, stay-at-moms pose a significant threat for business. 

One industry impacted tremendously by women is healthcare. At one time, men were the doctors, women were the nurses.

In 1965, only 8 percent of medical school students were women. By 2012, nearly half of all students and graduates were women.

Companies need to figure out a way to lure these moms back to work with personalized and innovative compensation, benefits, and perk packages. Flexibility and telecommuting for many of these moms will be more important than money. 

But while those changes may be a magnet for the new mom, it creates another management problem – how do you treat these moms differently than your male workers, your young, unmarried Millennials, and your Baby Boomers who are looking to cut back but still keep working?

Enticing these married with children women back to work will not be that easy.  Married women with college degrees typically have husbands with similar levels of education. These husbands are likely to be earning good paychecks, providing their wives with options about whether to work after the birth of children. So while these college-educated mothers invested heavily in their careers, they are often more able to be leave the work force, at least temporarily.