Expert Q&A: Addressing Today’s Global Workforce Trends to Meet Tomorrow’s Talent Needs

A recent Allegis Group survey found that 80% of employers struggle to acquire talent due to challenging global labour markets.

The most influential factor is the economic environment cited by 55% of survey respondents. This finding is followed by demographic shifts cited by 32%, and social factors, such as generational differences and pressures for social responsibility at 31%. Rounding out the list are technology disrupters at 27%, regulations at 24%, and political volatility cited by 10% of survey respondents.

The findings of the survey have been published in the Global Workforce Trends Report. To find out more about how political and economic challenges are directly impacting specific international regions, we interviewed three experts from our global network:

  • Ron Hetrick, Director of Labor Market Business Intelligence at Allegis Group in the US
  • Oliver Wilkinson, Director of Customer & Market Insight with Allegis Group EMEA
  • Alfonso Nunez, Managing Director of Business Development & Client Solutions at Allegis Global Solutions in the APAC region

How do you see these challenges playing out in the US labour markets?

Hetrick: These are unique times around the globe as Baby Boomers are retiring in astounding numbers. In the US, we have been hovering at record low employment rates for months and seeing even stronger monthly employment gains since last year. What’s crazy about this is that all labour pools are very tight, including record lows for even minimal skilled workers. For the first time in history, the number of open jobs now exceeds the number of job seekers. And those that are seeking work are unwilling to move to where a new job lies at the lowest rates we have ever seen. This is creating a lot of pressure on employers to do a better job of finding, attracting, and retaining the talent they have.

With uncertainty surrounding Brexit, how are employers in the UK and EMEA preparing to manage low unemployment amid growing talent demands and moderating economic growth?

Wilkinson: There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Brexit in our region. I think there are very real concerns about the impact of reduced immigration into the UK and also concerns around large companies and specific business functions and skills that may be moved out of the country. This creates opportunity, potentially, in other countries across the EMEA region, but again, there’s a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty about what it means. Fortunately, there is still a healthy supply of the skills needed to do the work – although there’s certainly not a surplus. What it really means is companies must think carefully about how they manage the workers they have. I guess the question becomes what should they do to attract this talent? Firstly, I think companies need to build in the functions that can get the people they need into their business. Companies need to consider using more flexible engagement models, and permanent, contract, and project resources to get work done. I think they must also focus on delivering a great candidate experience to differentiate themselves from their competition. This includes looking to partner with talent solutions firms that have the expertise to provide perspective, advice, and support to help companies navigate today’s challenging environment.

We found that in APAC, employers are struggling to meet expectations of growth and success amid a highly challenging environment for acquiring talent – and in many cases, finding the required skills. Which best practices can help them land on their feet?

Nunez: The sheer diversity of countries, populations, and cultures across the region create intense pressure, as does a tight talent supply, heavy demand, including from functions being offshored to the APAC region from elsewhere in the world, and limited mobility across the region.

There are several ways businesses can address this. To begin with, they are considering contract, non-permanent, and contingent labour. I mean, the right labour-engagement model to get work done could come from any type of talent nowadays, it’s all about the “TalentSumer.” Next, they are developing their own talent by investing more heavily in training and upskilling of existing workers. This strategy has been taken up as a particularly important tactic in India and Australia, for example, for return-to-work mothers as a refreshed labour pool.

But beyond that is also to expand their diversity strategies to increase their options of different labour pools to access. These could be talent pools that historically have not been considered significant. Ultimately, one of the key strategies that would push them in the region is for them to engage talent solutions partners as a skilled and knowledgeable resource to address any of the challenges I have spoken about.

So, to help businesses better understand the economic and demographic trends influencing the supply of talent, our report offers a three-pronged approach. Let’s look at each one. Our first piece of advice to employers is to “Sharpen your visibility into the workforce supply and demand.” Can you explain what we mean by that and the benefits employers stand to gain?

Hetrick: Sure, I’m going to reference back to the Allegis Group Global Workforce Trends survey in which 65% of talent acquisition stakeholders said they’ve had to adjust their business strategy because they couldn’t find and secure the right talent in a specific function or geographic area. I think companies need to have better visibility into the entire talent supply, all channels.

Job seekers are out there taking advantage of all this breakthrough technology to find better opportunities. But I haven’t seen companies maximising data to their advantage, and I think it makes sense because companies aren’t labour economists. They don’t specialise in that. It’s not their core competency. So, I think you must increasingly rely on partners who leverage data in order to make better business and talent decisions.

Our report also suggests that employers “Strengthen their talent acquisition capabilities.” What are some strategies they should adopt?

Nunez: Looking at the survey, it’s interesting to see that more than a quarter of companies we surveyed aren’t confident that they know the true market value of the skills that they are after. When you consider that, in conjunction with the fact that there are so many businesses concerned about the lack of clarity and definition around what the critical job criteria are and what the definitions of success is in an empirical sense is for those jobs, that’s a very worrying combination. Given the global talent shortages, almost all companies are now feeling the pressure to massively improve their ability to secure the workforce they need.

First, companies should re-examine every aspect of the recruiting process, from rethinking sourcing and engagement strategies, as well as their use of technology enablement, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, to evolve the role of the recruiter and the manager in that process.

They should also think about being flexible. This is an inherent challenge for large businesses, but trying to be flexible in the requirements for the role, in using automation to allow you to be more flexible in how you deploy resources you have, and also, in allowing technology to enable a recruiter to specialise within their function means the process itself can remain flexible to meet the expectations and needs of the candidate.

As a global talent solutions provider, Allegis Group helps companies to address these challenges every day through outsourced solutions that focus on delivering outcomes clients are after – whether it’s based on a technology solution to make things better, faster, or cheaper, or whether it be on a service basis to deliver a better experience. We also have the staffing services that put these practices to work through the managed services solutions we provide for contingent labour and the recruitment process outsourcing solutions we provide for permanent talent acquisition.

Finally, the third prescription encourages companies to protect their critical talent. What are some ways that they can do that?

Wilkinson: That is a great question. We’ve spoken a little on the importance of employers looking to boost their recruitment capabilities and attract great talent. But it’s critical to ensure we don’t ignore the other side of the equation, which is about them also needing to retain and engage the great talent they already have in their business. Companies must have clear strategies and practices to influence and impact talent retention. For example, it’s increasingly important to expand career path options and flexibility for talent and employees. Not all employees look for the traditional, linear path of advancement. More and more, we’re seeing companies become more open to alternative paths of development, whether that is giving talent access to different projects, experiences, or roles. That breadth of experience, as opposed to only a linear, upward path of career progression, becomes more critical.

Coupled with this, enhancing training and development opportunities is becoming increasingly important. Any employee is going to want to continually learn and develop the skills they have. Companies need to respond to this. And what we’re seeing is companies are not just playing the role of employer anymore; they’re playing a role of educational provider, as well.

Additionally, companies need to keep communication between employees, talent, management, and leadership open. We must be realistic, though, as this can probably mean quite a significant culture change in some instances, and it might involve investments in digital communications to make it happen. But it’s increasingly important to give talent a transparent view into all learning and development opportunities available within an organisation. With that in mind, if employers do all these things, they will be able to retain their high-value talent.

Get the Workforce Trends Report

Get your copy of the Global Workforce Trends Report today, complete with more original survey findings, an overview of macroeconomic issues, industry trends, and the demands for skills in select countries across the globe, as well as insight on how employers can adapt to the trends influencing the global talent supply.

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