Attracting the Best in a Red-Hot War for Talent

If you think the U.S. unemployment rate is low now, then just you wait: Economists polled recently by the Wall Street Journal expect next year’s rate to dip even further, from June’s 4 percent to 3.6 percent by the middle of 2019. That would be the lowest level in 50 years, when it dropped to 3.5 percent back in December 1969. The economists cite factors such as tax cuts and increased federal spending as likely contributors to increased hiring activity.

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Clearly, the war for talent won’t be cooling down anytime soon. And judging from a couple of recent surveys, many employers have some work to do to ensure they’ll be viable players in the contest for strong candidates. A new Randstad North America poll of 3,000 American workers finds that they yearn to work at companies that prioritize learning and mastering digital skills, yet less than half say their employers encourage skill development and only one-third agree that their companies offer ample opportunities to acquire digital skills at the workplace. In addition to the workers, Randstad had also polled about 800 C-suite leaders and department heads. Only 42 percent of them agree that they’re restructuring their HR departments or revising their strategies to leverage digital and mobile tools, and just over half (51 percent) of that number say they’re highly or very effective at doing so.

“Our survey findings serve as a wake-up call to business leaders that their overall digital readiness could make or break them, as the digitally driven expectations and needs of the modern workforce have changed,” said Jim Link, Randstad North America’s CHRO.

The workers cited “feeling equipped with the latest digital and technology skills” as one of the top factors for job satisfaction, along with “savings or financial-assistance programs” (401(k) benefits, tuition reimbursement, etc.) and vacation time.

Workers (particularly younger ones) are also looking for employers that are diverse and inclusive, reveals another recent survey, this one from Disability:IN, a nonprofit formerly known as the US Business Leadership Network that encourages companies to hire the disabled. Although 68 percent of the millennials polled say it’s “very to extremely” important to work for a company that fosters a diverse and inclusive workplace, only about half (51 percent) say their employer is committed to hiring and retaining people with disabilities. Thirty-two percent of the millennials say diversity and inclusion are key considerations when selecting a new job (compared to only 15 percent of baby boomers), while 46 percent of millennials (and 32 percent of boomers) say they’re “absolutely” more likely to stay at a company that fosters diversity and inclusion.

Only 20 percent of people with disabilities participate in today’s workforce compared to 69 percent of the non-disabled, according to the Dept. of Labor. A commitment to hiring the disabled will not only help companies find new sources of talent, but also help them attract and retain millennial workers, says Disability:IN President and CEO Jill Houghton.

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Andrew R. McIlvaine
Andrew R. McIlvaine is former senior editor with Human Resource Executive®.