Why Companies Will Fail To Find Qualified Employees in 2012

Whether you believe there is a shortage of qualified candidates or an unwillingness of companies to pay the salaries skilled workers demand will be argued well into 2012 and beyond.  But regardless of which side you take, nearly everyone agrees that finding skilled workers to fill jobs in 2012 will be a struggle for employers.  Time is running out if you don’t have a recruitment and retention plan.

According to research from the Human Capital Media Advisory Group, some 58 percent of organizations surveyed are having a difficult time finding top talent for many high-skill and technical positions. While many employers blame poor education, lack of work skills, and bad shoproblem is because companies “don’t want to invest the time and dollars to identify and develop high-potential candidates.”

It is likely that both sides are telling the truth. Regardless, who is right and who is wrong won’t solve the problem for employers trying to hire qualified workers. Whatever the cause, most experts agree that hiring and employee turnover will increase in 2012 and 2013.  

Here are three examples that I’ve observed why current hiring practices are not working. To attract and retain skilled qualified workers, employers must begin to address these inconsistencies.

  1. Competing incentives.  Production is ramping up and HR plans an all-out hiring blitz for 2012. Recruiters are incentivized to reduce the time to hire. Managers are offered bonuses for meeting production or sales goals. Without contingent metrics such as quality of hire, employee engagement, and employee retention, it is likely the new hires will enter a revolving door despite the recruiters and HR meeting their goal of getting people on the proverbial bus.
  2. Hired on skill, fired on attitude. Many human resource professionals and hiring managers still emphasize education and experience when screening candidates.  The new hires are then terminated (if they don’t quit first) for poor culture fit or bad attitudesScreening candidates for culture fit and positive attitude takes time and skill. But it is possible and critical to do.  Learn from companies like Southwest, Zappos, Google, and Apple. They aren’t the leaders in their industry and global best places to work because they shortchange employee screening. Employers must begin to screen out candidates who fit the company culture and have a positive attitude – not just the right education and experience.
  3. Inconsistent screening and performance management criteria.  Perform this simple test.  Compare the interview questions asked to job candidates with the annual employee performance evaluation forms used by managers. Are employees hired and then evaluated on the same performance criteria?  More often than not, the criteria is different. And even when the list of skills, abilities, and expectations are similar, HR and managers might give different priority to different criteria.

The inconsistency between employee screening and performance management is huge. Recruiters, human resources, and managers must get on the same page when it comes to managing talent.  Talent management is too “silo-ed” in most organizations, where each department points fingers, managers disavow responsibility, and no one is held accountable for bad hires, high turnover, and low employee engagement.  It’s every person’s job in the company to ensure that desirable candidates are targeted or referred, that only qualified people are hired, and that top performers are engaged and retained. Without a concerted and integrated effort from the CEO to the custodian, people will spend too much time arguing about why they can’t find enough qualified workers and not enough on growing the business.


Ira S Wolfe


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