SHIFT – When Your Journey Is Only 1% Complete

When the Shift Hits Your Plan“Our journey is only 1% complete.” Those words are the internal motto at Facebook. It’s a daily reminder that continuous success isn’t a destination but a journey.


But how would you feel waking up each day knowing you are no further toward your goal than you were yesterday? Depressed and frustrated? Or motivated and inspired by the challenge and opportunity ahead?


Facebook takes its motto seriously. You should too.  In spite of its past success Facebook believes much more needs to be done, much more opportunity lays ahead, and their best days haven’t arrived yet.


It’s a constant reminder that everyone is on a journey and in spite of its phenomenal success Facebook doesn’t believe it has arrived yet. It doesn’t even believe it’s a quarter or half-way there. In a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity – VUCA – it’s great advice.


The story doesn’t end there. Another reminder at Facebook that continuous success isn’t a destination but a journey is the last sign employees see each day exiting the workplace.  It is Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s not so subtle message to his Facebook employees: Don’t end up like Sun Microsystems.


Facebook’s headquarters used to belong to Sun Microsystems, a onetime power-house of innovation that collapsed and was acquired by Oracle in 2009. When Facebook moved in, Zuckerberg made over the whole place, but he didn’t change the sign out front; he just turned it around and put Facebook on the other side. The old sign remains as a reminder of what happens when you take your eye off the ball.


The Facebook-Sun Microsystems sign is just one symbol that change does not even begin to describe what is happening in the world today. Learning to deal with “change” takes on a whole new meaning. It requires us to become comfortable with volatility and uncertainty, to navigate through complexity, to deal with ambiguity. Consequently, the skills that got many us to our current level of success will be wholly inadequate to keep the momentum going.  This is not a future vision of some distant threat or opportunity. It is reality today.

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Is it possible to bring the jobs back?

<This article was first published by the Herald-Tribune on June 27, 2016>

unqualified for jobsPartially as a result of the great recession and the housing debacle, many jobs have disappeared in the United States. Where did these jobs go and will they come back?

About China

According to NBC News, 2.7 million jobs were lost to China in the decade between 2001 and 2011. Many of these lost jobs, an estimated 2.1 million, (77 percent) were in the textile industry. More than 1 million jobs (37 percent) were in the computer and electronic product category. China and the United States are the two largest manufacturing economies in the world.

Do we blame China because they have lower labor costs? Are these jobs likely to come back anytime soon, or ever?

Job sectors and cities

According to an Economic Policy Institute study by Robert Schott, about 50,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been shuttered since 2001. “Very few are coming back anytime soon.” New Hampshire lost the most jobs (2.94 percent), followed by California, Massachusetts, Oregon, North Carolina, Minnesota, Idaho, Vermont, Colorado and Texas.

In the decade from 2010 to 2020, the United States is expected to add 20 million new jobs. Certain medical and personal-care jobs will make up over 50 percent as the baby boomer generation swells.

The website 24/7 Wall St. lists the top 10 American cities adding the most jobs as an increase of the number of people employed there. They are: 10 – Lafayette, Louisiana, 8.5 percent; 9 – Naples-Marco Island, 8.6 percent; 8 – Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana, 8.9 percent; 7 – Holland-Grand Haven, Michigan, 9 percent; 6 1 – Laredo, Texas, 9 percent; 5 – Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, Virginia, 9.9 percent; 4 – Gainesville, Georgia, 10.6 percent; 3 – Midland, Texas, 11.2 percent; 2 – Columbus, Indiana, 14.5 percent; and 1 – Odessa, Texas, 18.4 percent.

With college students struggling to find work, what are the most promising sectors for jobs in the near future?

Here they are, according to 24/7 Wall St., expressed as a percent of 2010 employment, followed by the median annual wage: 1 – actuaries, 87.1 percent, $87,650; 2 – glaziers, 79.7 percent, $36,640; 3 – statisticians, 74.5 percent, $72.830; 4 – pest control workers, 70.9 percent, $30,340; 5 – interpreters and translators, 69 percent, $43,300; 6 – optometrists, 68.4 percent, $94,990; 7 – natural science managers, 68 percent, $116,020; 8 – market research analysts and marketing specialists, 67.8 percent, $60,570; 9 – insulation workers, 67.5 percent, $35,110; and 10 – environmental science and protection technicians, including health, 65.9 percen, $41,380.

I posed this question at “Is it possible to bring back the jobs and do they still exist?”

Dileep Rao, a clinical professor at Stanford and Florida International University who also is with InterFinance Corp., says. “We need to focus on growing entrepreneurs, not small business, not Fortune 1000 companies and not venture capital. Make trade agreements more balanced so that we can export as much to a country as they export to us.”

Samuel Rines, a senior economist and portfolio strategist with Avalon Advisors, said, “Some manufacturing may return to the United States. Automation, including robotics, is allowing the U.S. to become increasingly competitive in manufacturing, but with fewer and different jobs. However, labor-intensive manufacturing is far more likely to move to Mexico than the U.S. The jobs that return are not the same as the ones that left.”

Ira Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions, writes about workforce trends. “Any job that can be automated will be. With enormous improvements in artificial intelligence, service and professional jobs are also at risk. It’s estimated that nearly 75 percent of all current jobs are at significant risk to become extinct or dramatically altered within the next 10 to 15 years.

“Bringing jobs back that meet the current skill level of the majority of employees only lowers the bar for productivity. Without gains in productivity, our economic drivers and global competitiveness stall. Technology structurally disrupts labor markets. We’ve not experienced structural disruption like this since the Industrial Age. New technology kills old jobs and creates new ones. What we really need are better jobs. But those jobs require different skills.

Wolfe adds, “The solution is better education and skill training. The political response has been to pour more money into old programs and expect a different result. Meeting business demands requires a different delivery system and business model. We know that our education system needs help. Attempting to train a laborer to become a health care provider seems to make sense but, to date, this has been largely unsuccessful.

“It’s not an easy fix,” Wolfe says. “Rhetoric won’t solve the jobs crisis. It just gets politicians re-elected.”

“From a macroeconomic standpoint, we might be trading a small number of jobs for much higher pricing for all Americans on many goods and services,” suggests Alex Zapesochny, president and CEO of iCardiac Technologies Inc.

Gary Patterson, of Fiscal Doctor Inc., said he believes, “It is possible to bring the jobs back if and when the U.S. has the political guts to bring a value added tax like other countries use. With a level playing field, U.S. manufacturing would be more competitive.”

“Jobs won’t come back unless domestic factors change,” says David Tal, president of “These factors may include ending or rewriting existing free trade agreements or investing in enough automation technology that will make domestic manufacturing once again more economical than outsourcing.”

For me, what really matters most is the ability for you, and perhaps recent graduates in your family, to stay gainfully employed in meaningful, well-paying careers that fulfill dreams and aspirations. If that is combined with an entrepreneurial spirit that helps create jobs, so much the better.

Dennis Zink is a volunteer, certified mentor and chapter board chairman of Manasota SCORE and chairman of Realize Bradenton. He is the creator and host of Been There, Done That! with Dennis Zink, a nationally syndicated business podcast series. He facilitates a CEO roundtable for the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, created a MeetUp group, Success Strategies for Business Owners and is a business consultant. Email him

Where Can Small Business Find Talent?

As much as things change, some things remain the same. That is certainly the case when it comes to recruiting new talent. Word of mouth has been and still is the best source.

Close up Two hand holding smart phone with word of mouth online network word and icons, Digital concept.

Close up Two hand holding smart phone with word of mouth online network word and icons, Digital concept.

In a recent survey by LinkedIn, nearly one quarter of employees who were recently hired at a small or mid-sized business heard about the job through someone they know at the company. Only 1 in 7 found the job through a third-party website or online job board and nearly the same number used a staffing firm.

Of course, many small business employers dismiss social media as a distraction and nuisance.  It’s time to get over it and recognize it as a powerful marketing and engagement tool for customers and employees alike. Social media after all is just word-of-mouth on steroids!

But finding out about a job opening is only a first step. Nearly half the participants in the LinkedIn study didn’t know anything about the company when they first heard about the job. So what do they do?

They “Google” it, of course.  Two-thirds immediately look up the company’s website.  And over one-third read about the company online. After that, many just swipe left (aka delete). A company website is often the first impression and many companies fail miserably.

For starters, many company websites are not mobile optimized or responsive. That’s an immediate turnoff. And when a company has revamped their sites, much more attention was given to the external customer interface than recruitment.

A potential customer gets to interact with products and services, watch videos, read customer reviews, and chat live with “one of our friendly agents.”  A potential employee is offered a boring job description and the opportunity to fill out a non-mobile friendly 5-page application or download a pdf which they can fax back or mail. The closest many applicants get to human contact with a recruiter or HR is an email which disappears in the infamous Human Resources black hole.  Even when a company website allows a candidate to complete an application online or upload a resume, most applicants get the silent treatment, a “non-event” I like to call “ghosting.”

To reach and engage enough qualified talent, here are 3 recruiting strategies you can apply.

  1. Invest in multiple channels to promote your company, not just the job, to candidates. Candidates want to know who you are and what you stand for. Culture and mission are more important than a paycheck for many Millennials and a growing percentage of other generations too. Up the ante and your recruiting success by encouraging employee referrals, job boards, and involvement in professional networks.
  2. Turn your employees into ambassadors. Employee referrals are the number one way professional looking to work in a small or mid-sized business get a job. You couldn’t possibly hire enough recruiters or spend enough advertising dollars to reach top talent. Use your best resource – your employees. Let them be your brand ambassador. And if you’re afraid about what they might say and do to embarrass you, your problems lie much deeper than recruitment.
  3. Company culture matters. Half of professionals who accept a new job offer never heard of the company when first approached. Define and communicate why your company is a great place to work. Demonstrate how the job aligns with a greater purpose and mission. The days of culture, mission, and values being merely words hung prominently in the company lobby but rarely spoken or acted on are long gone.

The poor results gleaned from most recruitment efforts don’t have much to do with strategy, planning, or budget.  The problem is that today’s top talent is more interested in the company than the job and paycheck itself.

Maybe it’s time that management takes a similar interest in the future success of the company and stops looking at jobs as openings filled with bodies.  Jobs don’t care about company culture, purpose, or meaning. People do. Jobs don’t energize or vitalize a company. Employees do. Instead of filling jobs, it’s time management focus on treating talent as the capital asset it is and stop treating employees like you’re doing them a favor.

Welcome to the Exponential Age

Future or Past

The Exponential Age: That’s what Udo Gollub calls life as we now know it. He begins a recent article with this:

In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt.

What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 years – and most people don’t see it coming. Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on paper film again? Surprisingly digital cameras were invented in 1975. It was a disappointment for a long time and written off as fantasy…until it wasn’t. And then a fixture of American innovation and business crumbled. Why didn’t they see it coming? Do you view the future through the same lens as Kodak?

The same thing is happening with artificial intelligence, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and even jobs. But this time structural changes won’t take centuries or decades to complete. The technological change of the next 10 years will have the same impact as the Industrial Revolution did in the 19th century. But instead of 100 years, it will happen in only 10 years.

Leading the disruption is software. Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties. What software might rock your industry, your business model, your job?

Will it be artificial intelligence?

Watson already helps physicians and nurses diagnose cancer, 4 times more accurate than humans. Facebook has pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. In the US, young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get basic legal advice within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans.

How about autonomous cars?

In 2018 the first self-driving cars will appear for the public. You will call a car with your phone. It will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Think taxi without a driver! You won’t want or need to own a car anymore. As traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google, etc.) take a revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels.

It’s not just the automobile companies that will be affected. Self-driving trucks will solve the problem they have with finding enough qualified drivers. But they will also detach nearly 9 million truck drivers from their current jobs. Insurance companies too will have massive trouble because, without accidents, insurance will become 100 times cheaper. The current car insurance business model will disappear.

Even real estate will change. If you can work while you commute, people will have more options and may move further away to live in a more affordable community.

3D Printing? The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to have in the past.The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. Spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. All major shoe companies started 3D printing shoes. At the end of this year, new smartphones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home. By 2027, 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D printed.

Longevity? Right now, the average lifespan increases by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the life span used to be 79 years. Today it’s 80 years. By 2036, there will be more than a one-year increase per year and 100 years old will bethe new 60!

Education? By 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smartphone. The cheapest smartphones are already at $10 in Africa and Asia. Every child in the world can use Khan Academy to access everything a child learns at school in First World countries. That means everyone will soon have the same access to world class education regardless of socioeconomic status or geography. What will this do the traditional classroom model from elementary school to universities?

Whatever the industry you’re in or the goods or service you use or produce, here’s a simple rule: if it doesn’t work with a phone, your business and business model may be history. Gollub (along with a lot of very smart people) agree that “almost any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed to fail inthe 21st century.”

Will they be right? Or are you still betting on your past and feel time is on your side?

And last but not least. Here’s an app that can’t come soon enough. By 2020, there will be apps that can tell by your facial expressions if you are lying. Imagine a political debate where its results are displayed while the candidates are talking.

To read the full article by Gollub, click here.

Podcast|Confessions from a Recovering Millennial Basher

I have a confession to make. I’m a recovering millennial basher. For several years I hopped on the stereotype bandwagon and spewed rhetoric about the narcissistic, digitally obsessed, trophy-kid millennial Generation. I even devoted a chapter or two to it in my book Geeks, Geezers and Googlization.

Listen here or continue reading!

But time and blinding confrontation with the obvious has changed my views.

Over the past seven years or so, I’ve had thousands of interactions with these young adults, born between 1980 and 1996. Yes, it’s true—the oldest millennials are no longer just young know-it-alls but 36-year-old managers, parents, spouses and teachers. Without hesitation I can say many of them have been pleasant, and even inspiring.

I’ve been impressed and awed with the courtesy, knowledge and positive attitude of the 22-year-old restaurant server who is going to school full time, while working two jobs.

I’m a bit jealous of the savvy, ambitious and entrepreneurial college graduate who is wooing investors to support his new venture, while simultaneously attending classes in pursuit of his graduate degree.

baby Boomers Life Magazine 1968For sure, some millennials are self-centered, spoiled and socially immature. But so are many of my baby boomer peers. Just like each generation has its fair share of introverts and extroverts, slackers and winners, there’s no place better to discuss entitlement than a group of aging baby boomers commiserating over young people’s horrible work ethic and how great America used to be. They seem to forget that just four decades earlier, baby boomers were described in a LIFE cover story in May 1968 as “privileged, narcissistic, entitled, spoiled and promiscuous.”

Generation X doesn’t get off the hook so easily either. Equally frustrated and often resentful of the generation breathing down their necks, Gen X also grabbed headlines in their teen and young adult years. In December 1985, Newsweek hit the stands decrying “The Video Generation.” It read,“There they are, those preening narcissists who have to document every banal moment with their cutting-edge communications technology.” Yes, that’s right. Three decades ago, Gen Xers—often the most vocal bashers of millennials—were the brunt of everything wrong with America and now they are repulsed by the digital fixation of today’s young adults.

Irony rules, or as many of our parents warned, “I hope your children give you the same heartache as you gave me!”

Once we cut through all of the noise, each generation begins to seem more similar than different on the big issues of life and work. For example, 25 percent of millennials value “making a positive impact on my organization” during their career—not so different from Gen X (21 percent) and baby boomers (23 percent). Similar numbers were shared for “solving social and/or environmental challenges” and “working with a diverse group of people.”

Younger generations seem to catch the blame for the environment in which they grew up. But teens didn’t create the smartphone, tablet and all of the other devices that seem to be distracting them—just as baby boomers didn’t create the television and Gen X didn’t create computers and video games. The kids didn’t purchase these devices either. Their parents did.

So, next time you consider bashing a Millennial, remember that they didn’t cause but were born into this world of economic, demographic and societal disruptions. They are simply adapting to the only environment they know.

Previously published on ReWork, May 2016

9 More Workforce Trends Worth Knowing

Trends to watch1. There have been job gains at the highest paid level — engineering, finance, computer analysis; and there have been job gains at the lowest paid level — personal health care, retail, and food preparation.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank


2. The jobs that kept the middle class out of poverty — education, construction, social services, transportation, administration — have seen a decline since the recession, especially in the northeast. At a national level jobs gained are paying 23 percent less than jobs lost.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank


3. The lowest paid workers, those in housekeeping and home health care and food service, have seen their wages drop 6 to 8 percent (although wages overall rose about 2 percent in 2014).

Source: Federal Reserve Bank


4. By 2018, 63 percent of all jobs will require some kind of post-secondary education and training. Including both new job openings and the replacement of retirees, high skills jobs will represent 33 percent of job openings, low skills jobs 22 percent and middle skills jobs 45 percent through 2014.2 This means roughly 78 percent of all available jobs will require education beyond high school. These projections of high, middle and low skills jobs are fairly consistent across all states.

Source: Brookings Institute


5. Forty-five percent of individuals with some college and 45 percent of individuals with associate degrees (those most likely to be employed in middle skills jobs) were in the middle income classes in 2007. » More than 85 percent of the nearly 73 million individuals who earned minimum wage or less in 2010 did not have a postsecondary degree — and nearly 60 percent had only a high school diploma or less.

Source: Brookings Institute


6. While a total of 21 million jobs are needed to put Americans back to work at prerecession rates, six sectors (health care, business, leisure and hospitality, construction, manufacturing, and retail) are projected to contribute to the majority of the growth.

Source: Brookings Institute


7.  Every 1,000 American women between the ages of 15-44 delivered 122.7 births in 1957.  The rate was just 62.9 births per 1,000 women in 2014

Source: Census Bureau


8. More than 1 in 3 American workers today are Millennials (adults ages 19 to 35 in 2016). In 2015 they surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce. The youngest Baby Boomer is now 52 years old!

Source:  Pew Research Center


9.During the next year, 1 in 4 Millennials will quit his or her current employer to join a new organization or do something different.  That figure increases to 44% if the time frame is extended to 2 years.

Source: Deloitte Millennial Survey


To read about 9 more trends, click here.

Is Your Company Ready to Welcome Millennials?

If your company is typical, the answer is probably NO! Few organizations welcome Millennials well. In fact, many companies consider Millennials the enemy and unwelcome outsiders.

are you ready to welcome Millennials?Traditional recruiting, hiring, and management techniques that survived the test of time are nearly worthless. Without an ambitious make-over of recruitment, selection, and talent management, almost every organization is facing an unprecedented disruption to life as usual.

Let’s take a look at a company called The American Dream or TAD for short. (The company is real – the name changed for anonymity.)

Tad was started over 40 years ago with a pocketful of change, a vision from its founder, and less than a handful of hard working employees.  And like many family owned businesses started in the 60s and 70s, the company was transitioned recently to the second generation.

Looking forward, its future is bright and on course for continued growth– if it can overcome one major hurdle.  Throughout its history HR was a business function that ran almost silently in the background. And that might be overstating it a bit.  For employees who worked hard and stayed the course, life-long employment was the reward. TAD had enviable metrics to prove it, too.

Long spans stretched between new hires, and most of them were hired to fill new job openings, not replace terminated workers. Employee turnover was almost non-existent and loyalty was the envy of all those businesses around them.  Once hired at TAD, employees stayed…and stayed… and stayed. For many of its 75 employees, this was often the first and last job they held.

TAD’s workforce, like that in many companies, is graying. Right now 32 percent of the workforce is over 60 years old, nearly half are 50-plus. At the other end of the generational spectrum only 2 employees are under 30 and less than 12 percent are under 40!

With retirements pending, TAD for the first time in its history is faced with replacing not one but a dozen or more employees. Within ten years, more than half of the workforce might need to be replaced. Some of these vacated jobs were held by the same person from the day the job was created.  Talk about culture shock when the replacement workers will be Millennials and Gen Z, two or more generations removed!

Fortunately, TAD’s management team recognizes HR cannot operate under the fallacy of it-is-business-as-usual. But like so many other businesses, it is also a bit fearful of the attitudes, work style, and life dreams of young workers.  That admission of the unknown may be exactly what the doctor ordered to find an effective fix.

With Millennials knocking at its door with every new job posting, 3 to 5 years, not decade-long careers, may be the best one can hope for.  What many companies experience these days when they attempt to replace a long-term employee is “churnover.” It’s not uncommon for an employer to replace one 30 year veteran with three or more employees within the first year.

Unfortunately churnover is often blamed on the Millennial attitude.  But that’s only partially true and a poor excuse for outdated and lazy management and strategy.

When a company like TAD uses time-tested-traditional recruiting methods to recruit in today’s labor market, their job opportunity message sounds like chalk screeching on a black board to the Millennial (if Millennials even know what that sounds like!) It’s the same theory that suggests shouting louder and speaking slower to get the attention of a deaf person! It doesn’t work…and worse, it frustrates both parties.

Recruiting in the Age of Googlization requires a re-examination of the screening and hiring process, on-boarding, and the preparation of supervisors to manage, engage, reward, and retain younger employees. Effective talent management isn’t just about replacing a body but hiring the right employee (regardless of age) who has the right abilities and skills and an attitude and behavior that fits with his co-workers and within the culture.

How ready is your company to recruit, welcome, and manage Millennials and Generation Z?

Walk in the shoes of a Millennial (and Gen Z).  Do a demographic analysis. Who will they see when they show up at your doorstep? What is the age distribution of your workforce?  How many 60 years and older workers do you employ compared to 30 years and under?  How many are in their 40s vs 50s?  The older the workforce and the longer they’ve been on your payroll, the more planning and adjustments you will likely face.

All risks are not equal. Identifying the age distribution of your workers is one step in the right direction. You could have a healthy distribution for all positions except one but that one vacant job could disrupt or curtail operations, production, or sales.  It is important to identify hard-to-fill key positions and have a plan ready for succession or recruitment without notice.

Readiness is more than a job posting. It’s inevitable that Millennials and even Gen Z will be the target of your next recruitment campaign? How prepared is your organization to recruit them? Is your website mobile ready and application process Millennial-friendly?  Are managers prepared to interview and on-board these young adults?  Will your workforce be welcoming or treat these new hires like flies at a picnic?

Within five years or less the scales will tip faster than it has in decades as the aging Baby Boomers retire and Millennials and Gen Z come on board.  Without preparation and training, management and its managers will experience a rude awakening.

4 Ways to Appeal to More Millennials

Asking for a quick show of hands, an overwhelming number of people at a recent workshop acknowledged that “frugal” and “no-nonsense labels” described the pre-WW II generations. Likewise coddled, entitled, and self-involved were typically accepted as descriptors of the Millennials.

And there lies a problem for many companies.

talent acquisition magnetNew studies are showing that many Millennials and their successor Generation Z have more in common with their grandparents and great-grandparents than the media lets on. Yes, Millennials are hyper-connected and tech-dependent. They are by far the most diverse generation since the late 19th century. They are also more environmentally conscious than previous generations. But they are also more frugal with realistic expectations for the future than any generation since the Depression babies.  And those qualities and backgrounds are often overlooked when discussing Millennials.

But whatever and whomever Millennials are is almost irrelevant when it comes to business.  The fact is that by 2020 Millennials will make up almost 40 percent of the U.S. population and by 2025 75 percent of the workforce.  Treat them poorly and many businesses will succumb.

It’s time to take a step back.  Best practices and traditional experiences are rapidly becoming things of the past. For businesses hoping to attract and retain Millennials must understand the Millennial mindset.

How might your business appeal to the Millennials?

1. Get connected. Millennials are digital natives. They don’t remember a world without cellphones and the Internet. Millennials prefer the Internet to TV. Mobile devices outnumber desktop computers and laptops combined. Google reports about  300 million employment related searches each month. Seventy-five percent of jobseekers use their mobile phones; nearly half want to apply right away. If jobseekers can’t find and read your job posting on screens as small as smartphones, they won’t take the time to apply.

2. Be authentic.  There are few secrets anymore when it comes to branding. Social media has disrupted how the game is played. Companies can’t conceive a brand and hide behind a wall of hype anymore.  A company’s brand now falls into the hands of its consumers and employees. Branding is no longer a marketing message paid for by management but a consumer experience. Millennials also trust the word of their peers more than the dictum of management and that trend is crossing the generations. Authenticity and transparency are essential.

3. Don’t waste their time. This generation grew up with instant access to information and service at their fingertips. Millennials can search for any product or service, check out reviews, get approval from hundreds of friends, and purchase it within seconds.  They like engaging, fast, and efficient. That’s a far cry from the experience many encounter when it comes to applying for a job. Instead most companies offer them memories of a pre-digital stone age. More than half of companies don’t offer candidates the option of applying via mobile device. Mobile optimization is a sure and easy way to stay ahead of the competition.

4. It’s ALL about the experience. Take the hospitality industry for example where “fast casual” dining is thriving. It’s fresh, fast, and efficient. It offers personalized choices and an engaging experience. Likewise, career websites and recruiter follow-up need to be “fast casual”…at least to get Millennials to convert from a casual applicant to an interested candidate.  Unfortunately a user-friendly mobile-optimized job application may be the easy part. Changing the attitude of recruiters and hiring managers is often a higher hurdle.  Applicants need to feel like you care and are interested in them. That requires the common courtesy of responding to applicants quickly and keeping in touch often. “We don’t have the time to respond to every applicant” is an unacceptable excuse. It’s time to figure out a better way if you want to attract enough qualified Millennials.

Is The Pre-Employment Assessment Skating on Thin Ice?

What’s new in pre-employment assessment?  The answer may surprise you.

The talent assessment industry is thriving with growth expected to double by 2020. The value of pre-employment testing as well as leadership assessments is well-documented and less than half of the approximately 50 million hires made yearly in the U.S. are tested. According to Dr. Charles Handler, “there is an increasing amount of evidence that companies with solid, well-executed Talent Assessment programs outperform those who don’t.”  All those reasons point to a golden age for pre-hire assessment.

Unfortunately, most employers and HR professionals lack the understanding and experience required to reap the benefit. Handler, one of the most respected and innovative thought leaders in the talent assessment space, believes “most talent assessment programs are clumsily executed bolt‐onsPre-Employment-Assessment-Form.”

I tend to agree that pre-employment testing is often an after-thought. Choosing an assessment is akin to trying another flavor of ice cream on a hot summer afternoon because you’re bored with vanilla. Testing is a last ditch effort to fix everything else that isn’t working in the hiring process. It’s implemented as a band-aid, not  a strategy.

The problem facing the assessment industry shouldn’t be shouldered by companies alone.  The industry deserves a lot of blame for low acceptance and poor engagement. It has been noticeably slow to adapt to disruptive changes in the workforce and labor markets.

For starters, nearly half of all jobseekers use a mobile device to apply for a job.  But today’s job applicant is forced to endure pre-hire testing designed to be completed on paper or a desktop computer.  Few pre-hire assessments are optimized to be completed on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.  A growing gap exists between the assessment items and mobile capabilities. When attempting to attract Millennials and other tech-oriented workers, mobile optimization is not just desirable, it’s a necessity.

But the pre-hire test industry isn’t only struggling to meet expectation in the way tests are delivered. While pre-hire assessments still offer significant value to employers, the very essence of traditional pre-employment testing – a series of carefully selected questions selected to predict future behavior and performance – is losing relevance.

It is my prediction that as early as 2020 new technological advancements will change the way employers screen and hire. For the last century, psychologists and scientists have squeezed traditional testing to extrude the best possible result. But the stakes for making the right hiring decision and avoiding mistakes is higher than ever.  Besides, the velocity of change is accelerating and its trajectory of that change is much steeper.  Within this new environment, improving the status quo won’t get the results that both employers and job applicants demand.

The time is fast approaching when the traditional pre-employment test as we know it will become as useful as using a typewriter to search the Internet.  Assessment providers will be forced to change both the structure and delivery of employee tests to provide more precision and user-friendly experiences. Watch for significant advancement in the field of pre-hire assessments over the next 5 to 10 years driven by these three factors:

Predictive Analytics. Moving forward, the employment testing industry will be disrupted by advancements in technologies and tools such as artificial intelligence and data mining.  Testing applicants and employees will shift from an “active” model to “passive.  “Passive” assessments will not look like tests at all and will have a very low impact on job applicants’ time and attention.  In the passive model, a profile will be collected from data using ongoing interactions by and with candidates; much like the insurance industry collects data from motorists.

Social Job Matching.  Social media data is already an integral part of hiring, especially for companies recruiting skilled works, the tech-savvy, and Millennial generation.  Employing social media to source and screen applicants of course sends up red flags for violations of privacy, EEO, and ADA. But the genie is already out of the bottle there’s no putting her back in. While new technologies will all but guarantee discrimination and privacy challenges, laws and regulations will be revised and rewritten to meet the contemporary workplace. If not, employers will be crippled in their ability to source, recruit, and hire workers.

Gamification.  Virtual reality and other forms of interactive assessment are already starting to transform the pre-hire assessment industry.  Currently they lack validation and reliability.  But by blending the science of psychometrics and artificial intelligence with the art of social media, assessment tools that are engaging, relevant, and scientifically sound will emerge.  Watch closely in the next few years for the emergence of gamified psychometric assessments that predict job fit with better precision and meets the engagement expectations of demanding candidates.

New Technologies Rewrite Business Playbook

R.I.P. to the the way it was. An epic shift is underway.  From social media to the Internet of Things, digital fabrication to robotics, virtual reality to synthetic biology, new technologies are rewriting the playbook for managing people and leading organizations. Is your business future proof?

For some this shift is the light at the end of the tunnel following years of anticipation. Hope and opportunity await.

standing on train tracksFor others it’s the feared smack-down as the oncoming locomotive’s light accelerates toward them. Today is the future that was forecast for decades, but ignored in the hope these predictions were just were just hype and hot air. Time has run out. Reality is ready to crush those clinging to the status quo and reward those who see possibilities.

I’ve been tracking this shift for nearly two decades, beginning with my forecast of The Perfect Labor Storm as early as 1999. Few surprises revealed themselves other than a Great Recession and unprecedented acceleration in technology that only disrupted the traditional ways we work and live faster and deeper.  For employers and employees alike, this convergence of globalization, demographics, and technology isn’t just transforming fundamental employer-employee relationships.  It’s blowing them up.

The result is an environment that is becoming uncomfortable for anyone over 35. For younger workers, the Millennials and Generation Z, today is the only world they know. What does this mean?

There is no going back.

We live in a world with changing labor markets, changing workforce, and even changes in the very nature of work. Events are unfolding in plain sight. The default presumption that employers offer jobs that are long-term, full-time, and on-site with longitudinal career paths are history. Employment relationships will be increasingly short-term, transactional, and variable.

Anything can become obsolete at any time.

The pace of technological advances and disruption is unprecedented…and it’s just not in computing.  Every aspect of our lives and business can be impacted without notice. Think communication, transportation, entertainment, medicine, education. Companies continually restructure, reengineer, downsize, merge or acquire. Everything and everyone is vulnerable.  Who ever imagined that venerable institutions including governments could run out of money?

Loyalty – Part 1

Continual employment is dead. Job security is history. Responding to both disruptions and possibilities, organizations eliminate jobs regardless of employees’ length of service. They implement technology to replace jobs. They hire fewer full-time employees and more contingent workers.  Employers will work hard to optimize human resources: having the right people in the right place at the right time, moving away from offering long-term stable employment and toward a more efficient supply-chain management approach.

Loyalty – Part 2

The free agent mindset rules. Without credible long-term promises and job security from employers, employees are learning to live one day at a time. Free agency is no longer a stigma – it’s a career strategy. Baby Boomers seek free-agency as they expect to be active and work long after traditional retirement. Millennials and Generation Z have never known the world any other way. Employees are not dumb, deaf, and blind. Not only do most employees worry about wages and benefits but they live under a veil of uncertainty their jobs will be automated or eliminated. They see how susceptible their organization is to uncontrollable events – from global economics to terrorism.  They worry if their company’s management is resilient and smart enough to compete in the marketplace.  And to put the final nail in the traditional employment coffin, turnover is increasing among supervisors and managers. Thanks to better job opportunities and the rising tide of Baby Boomer retirements, the loss of direct supervisors has a subtle but profound impact on productivity and retention.  These supervisors are the people within the company who know employees best. Without them, anxiety skyrockets and ties to the organization are cut.

These are just a few of the factors creating this epic shift. How will they affect your company?

Managing people will only get harder. 

It’s always been hard to manage people. There have always been people of all types and generations working side by side in the workplace. But today there are as many as six generations.  Generational gaps merely skim the surface of how different the workforce is and will be. Diversity, gender equality,  sexual preference, and skill gaps exponentially increase the number of issues confronting managers every day, not to mention run-of-the mill interpersonal differences. It’s like the potential for disruption has been injected with steroids. It’s no wonder that people management has become a thriving and growing industry!

Beware the “youth bubble.”

Millennials and Generation Z are bringing a whole new set of expectations and behavior.Organizations that rely on young workers will face the challenge of an increasingly high-maintenance workforce. Compensation, benefits, work schedules, work conditions, rewards and recognition are still offered like it’s the Baby Boomer generation that is in control. What worked in the full-time, on-site, job secure past will surely fall short in the new normal of uncertainty and change.

Churn and squeeze.

quit job employee turnoverWith fewer long-term traditional employees, a revolving door will become the norm.  Best practice metrics of retention and employee turnover will become irrelevant…or at least be used in a different context. Every person from the senior executive to the warehouse worker will be squeezed to produce more work faster with fewer resources. To maximize efficiency and productivity, organizations will have to staff-up (and down quickly) while acquiring a higher quality worker. In addition to figuring out what full-time and part-time classifications mean, management will need to deal with managing more telecommuters and free agent workers as well as consultants and other contingent-type employees. Employers will need to be nimble, flexible, fluid, and smart in how they recruit, hire, and manage employees.

To remain competitive, companies must recruit faster, hire smarter, and manage better. The ability to get the right people on board, up to speed, and delivering results quickly will be the key.

So I’ll ask the question again – is your business future-proof?