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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?

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” *****

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

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.

Unemployed Workers – Unlucky Victims or Just Not Ready for Jobs?

Last week I wrote an article titled Why Many Unemployed Workers Will Never Get Jobs .It was published on the Huffington Post. It kicked up quite a firestorm with over 4,600 Likes on Facebook, nearly 1200 emails, and as of this writing, almost 500 comments.

paradigmaIn the article I wrote that “we have a huge problem on our hands that runs much deeper than the unemployment figures reveal.” Based on the passionate, angry, and sometimes profanity-laced comments I received, I touched a nerve. I underestimated the problem – it’s much bigger than huge! 

Comments ranged from “Ira Wolfe is a stupid motherf—-r” to “best article ever published on Huff Post.” Many people – largely unemployed and under-employed workers – seem to have perfected the art of character assassination and finger pointing. They may not have work skills but they sure can write a mean letter.

More specifically and one purpose of the article, I wrote about why traditional job training programs wasn’t working. In fact, all many programs seems to do is establish false hope and promises, a situation confirmed by many of the responders,.

The problem with traditional job skill training in many cases is that you can walk a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Far too many workers — employed and unemployed — don’t seem interested in finding water on their own. They want and expect someone else to find the water, make sure the journey isn’t too arduous, and get someone to pay for it.

Hundreds of people took offense to this. Their push-back only confirmed that I was right – to a point. It wasn’t that they wouldn’t drink but many can’t find the well on their own.  

To be fair many comments opened my eyes to circumstances I had not considered. There is old saying that goes something like this – when you listen, two people learn.

Here is one thing I learned – some unemployed workers simply got the short end of the stick. They shared personal stories how they went back to school to get a certificate or degree at their own expense. That took the initiative and made the investment of time and money to better themselves.

Unfortunately they were victims twice-over. Someone changed the rules mid-stream and didn’t tell them. 

First they were either laid off, terminated, outsourced, downsized, or stuck in a stagnant wage job. They did the right thing or at least thought they were doing it by going back to school. But many unemployed were sold a bill of goods. Despite personal investment and hardship, nothing changed for them except many are deeper in debt, thanks to receiving training or education for jobs that are headed to the low-wage dumper or toward extinction.

The only beneficiaries in many job training programs are the schools, organizations, and the trainers.

Many unemployed were duped to believe that a certification or degree guaranteed a good paying job…or any job for that matter. With slow job creation, an overabundance of “overqualified” workers, and a lack of skills required for more competitive wage jobs, these workers feel like they have “sucker” written across their foreheads. The problem is that the current labor and job market is anything but traditional and many programs still teach like nothing has changed.

Aside from these workers and many with similar bad luck stories, I’m sticking to the premise of the article:

Thanks to years of economic prosperity, government entitlements, union contracts and most recently a generation of helicopter parents, many workers from aging Baby Boomers to the young adults known as Millennials don’t have the motivational skills to achieve their own success, to keep themselves safe, to avoid a personal crisis, and to get themselves out of a jam.

Many readers took what I wrote and inferred that I called them lazy and unmotivated. That’s just not true. I never wrote that many of the unemployed were lazy and unmotivated. I did write that many lacked the skills to get a job or switch careers in today’s world and I don’t mean just the technical skills and experience.

When I refer to motivational skills, I mean basic life skills. The skills we used to learn as children that carried us through the trials and tribulations of adulthood. Children learned to entertain themselves. When we fell, we were told to get up, dust ourselves off, and try again. We learned there was a difference between winning and losing. Just playing the game was an opportunity, not a guarantee.

Joblessness is a very complex problem. Many people are caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. With outdated skills, homes “under-water,” aging parents, rising tuition, and a host of other factors, jobs may be available but the workers are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s an incredibly tough cycle to break when you’re poor and/or homeless, too.

Despite popular belief, I wasn’t blaming the unemployed and under-employed for their predicament. I was merely stating the fact that many workers -both employed and unemployed – lack the basic skills to create their own success and future. The lack of skills doesn’t make them bad, lazy or unmotivated people. They are just dependent on other people to create their future and rescue them. Ironically that’s a motivational skill too which has worked well for decades, if not longer.

The solution offered by many people is run faster and harder, juggle multiple jobs, and make an honest effort to get ahead. Unfortunately more activity and intensity does necessarily translate to a good paying “permanent” full time job in this hyper-competitive, dynamic, fast paced, complex workforce.

It comes down to this. Knowing where, when, and how to find a job opportunity these days and competing successfully for it is a skill many workers lack. Job search is no longer as simple as applying and interviewing these days. You don’t get paid for submitting a hundred resumes and performing well in interviews. There is only viable metric of success when it comes to getting offered a good paying job these days – you’re hired! Joblessness and unemployment is not always due to a lack of initiative or effort or motivation. It’s the person’s inability to escape a bad situation and build a new future.

(Companies aren’t blameless either. Many managers lack the skill required to find, identify, and retain talent when they see it or have it. Even when the right person with the right skills shows up on their doorstop, they often times don’t see recognize it until it’s too late.)

Read the full article Why Many Unemployed Workers Will Never Get Jobs here. 

Free PDF – What Job Won’t Return

What’s Up with the Attitude of Millennials These Days?

Confusion Millennial over his futureThere are few places I go that I don’t hear comments about the attitudes of Millennials. It is also the most common question I hear from clients these days.  It is so common in fact that it prompted an interview with the senior editor of Chief Learning Office magazine a few weeks ago. The article was just published last week. The editor asked me about what makes each generation different, if Baby Boomers felt the same way when they were young or have times changed, what Millennials want, how the generations respond to technology and more.

So let me give you a sneak peek into the interview.

Here’s a hard cold fact and yet a very simple but critical premise: the attitudes of each generation are different, not good or bad. (Yes, individuals in each generation have good and bad attitudes but collectively they just see the world a bit differently than their predecessors and successors.)

Without a doubt each older generation has viewed its younger successor as brash and uppity. Younger generations always look upward and see gray and staunchy.

But despite this loud roar of near-apocalyptic differences in attitudes between generations cited by the media, research is on the fence whether these differences are based on one generation’s perspective defined by events or concerns expressed by all generations at similar states in life and career.

Regardless of the cause, the notion that one generation’s attitude is good or bad is just bad business. Yes, there are individuals in each generation that have good and bad attitudes about work. But bad attitudes don’t infect an entire generation of tens of millions of people. In fact, I’m often embarrassed by the negative and disparaging attitudes of many of my peers (baby boomers) toward work and excited by the holistic and fresh outlook that millennials offer.

There is no question that historical events such as Pearl Harbor, landing on the Moon, the death of key leaders and great recessions imprint indelible messages in the minds of young people. These messages shape the lives of these young adults as they enter adulthood. They influence how they see the world and how the world sees them. But they don’t create an entire generation with a single universal attitude. We’re talking about millions of humans, not robots. Society and the marketplace that responds to these life-changing events likely have a greater impact on the life and times of each generation than the events themselves. For example, the Internet surely had a more pervasive and permanent effect on how a generation of young people will live and work as adults than the terrorist attack on 9/11.

Want to read more about the Millennials, technology, work and what companies need to do to recruit, hire, and retain the generation that will soon make up 75 percent of the workforce?Click here.

Download a free chapter about What You Need to Know About the Millennial Generation  from Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization

U.S. Unemployment Stats: Fantasy vs. Reality

The December 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Unemployment Report showed that only 74,000 people found new jobs. Of these, 31,000 were part-time. Yet, the U.S. unemployment rate fell from 7 to 6.7 percent. You ask, how can this happen?

The answer lies in the fact that about 500,000 Americans quit looking for a job. They removed themselves from the BLS unemployment rate calculations.

What is going on? The U.S. stock market has been booming. Interest rates remain very low. Federal Reserve economists and Wall Street pundits keep telling us that the recession is over. If you don’t have a job, however, this seems pure fantasy. The share of the U.S. population available to work is now at a 35 year low – a 62.8 percent labor participation rate. This is the same rate as in 1978. It includes all people who are not infirm, in the military, or locked up somewhere. These workers are either employed or still seeking a job today.

At the same time those workers not in the labor force, or who have given up looking, rose in December 2013 by 525,000 persons to 91.8 million! If this increase had been zero, the U.S. unemployment rate would have remained unchanged at 7 percent! Those BLS numbers don’t lie, they just distort reality.

There are those economists and pundits who claim that the swelling number of Americans who have dropped out of the labor force is due to the massive number of baby boomer retirements and more young people going to school. These claims lack credible proof.

A comparison of BLS labor participation rates from 1999 to 2013 for different age ranges shows a dramatic workplace shift is underway. There has been a major decline in workers under 45, while there has been a significant increase in the percent of people over 60 who are at work.

U.S. workers aged 30 to 59, the prime age group for employment, comprise 50 percent of the potential workforce. They account for most of the decline in the U.S. labor pool since 2007 and 75 percent of the decline for 2013. If you zero in on workers aged 45 to 54, their labor participation rate is 79.2 percent, the lowest since 1988! “It just keeps dropping and dropping,” states Julia Coronado, chief U.S. economist at BNP Paribas. “It’s depressing, as it’s not just older workers retiring.”

At the end of 2007, when the recession began, 66 percent of Americans were at work. To return to that level in 2014, 8 million Americans would have to be added to the workforce. If this occurred, the current U.S. unemployment rate would rise to 11.2 percent!

All of the above suggests that the pool of potential U.S. workers is substantially higher than the BLS unemployment rate indicates. What is keeping these workers on the sidelines?  It’s clear to me: A growing labor mismatch between vacant jobs and the skills of unemployed American workers. It’s a structural unemployment problem has existed for the past decade, and it is now becoming more critical.

An Accenture 2013 Skills and Employment Trends Survey of 400 U.S. executives found that 46 percent are concerned that they will not be able to find workers with the needed skills. A 2014 McKinsey survey of business and education providers in the European Union found that about a third reported difficulties finding workers with the right skills.

Clearly the U.S. education to employment pipeline is broken. There are approximately 7.2 million vacant jobs in the United States that currently can’t be filled. My latest published research on the skills-jobs mismatch, Future Jobs: Solving the Employment and Skills Crisis (Praeger, 2013), estimates that the lack of workers with appropriate skills for a 21st-century workforce in the United States, and in nations worldwide, could result in 14 to 25 million vacant U.S. jobs by 2020. Future Jobs, however, does point to reform efforts underway in regions of the United States, as well as overseas, that have the potential to substantially alter this dire scenario, if they are rapidly brought to scale.

The realities of this skills-jobs collapse will trigger a major economic crisis for many Americans. As the pain increases, we can expect a rising public demand for meaningful action by business and government at the regional and state levels to fix the jobs and skills disconnect, instead of the current fantasy that the U.S. unemployment problem is ameliorating.


Edward E. Gordon is an internationally recognized researcher, author, speaker, and consultant on the future of America’s and the world’s workforces. His previous books include: Winning the Global Talent Showdown, The 2010 Meltdown: Solving the Employment and Skills Crisis, Skill Wars, and FutureWork. Ed can be contacted at 760.346.6364 or