The Battle for Talented Employees to Get Worse

Long-term employees, who once stayed at their current job out of fear of an uncertain economy, are now jumping to new employers.

The battle for talented employees has increased significantly in 2013. All of the data shows that there is a massive disconnect between the education levels of our current workforce and the high-paying jobs available today and into the foreseeable future. Combine that with the latest jobs number showing, a drop in unemployment to 7.7 percent, and an above expected increase of 236,000 new jobs in February, companies are scrambling to hire good employees.

This puts a premium on employees who are currently in the workforce-and those employees know it. From wage increases to signing bonuses, skilled and talented employees have several job options and they aren’t shy about pursuing their next job opportunity.

A new trend that we are seeing is that long-term employees, who once stayed at their current job out of fear of an uncertain economy or  lack of job options, are now jumping to new employers. Those employees tell us the main reason for leaving is due to how they are treated by their bosses.

We recently had an employee with 20 years at an employer contact us to help him find a new job. His reason for leaving was that he felt unappreciated by his current employer. We helped this employee secure some interviews and within 72 hours he had a new job. A word to employers who do not take care of their workforce — you are creating a talent pool for your competitors and those employees will leave. The days of treating employees like chattle are over.

Employees are becoming much more aware of their value in today’s job market and are looking for more money for the skills they bring an employer. Every day we see employees who are underpaid by up to 10 percent by their current employer. When these employees start interviewing, they are often very pleasantly surprised by the number of job opportunities, at higher wages, that are available to them. Once they discover their new reality, they are quick to leave their current employer, even if they receive a counter offer.

While the problem of finding a skilled employee in today’s economy is tough, and it’s only going to get worse. In manufacturing for example, a National Association of Manufacturers report, compiled in conjunction with Deloitte & Touche, predicted manufacturers will need as many as 10 million new skilled workers by 2020.

Additionally, in a 2012 Talent Shortage Survey released by Manpower, 33 percent of respondents “Lack of available applicants/no applicants” as the most common reason for difficulty filling jobs, up from 22 percent in 2011. Most alarmingly for the future global economy, According to “Talent tensions ahead: A CEO Briefing” by Richard Dobbs, Susan Lund, and Anu Madgavkar (November 2012), they assert that “by 2020, the world could have 40 million too few college-educated workers and that developing economies may face a shortfall of 45 million workers with secondary-school educations and vocational training.” It could be worse for developed economies, with “up to 95 million” people being left out of the hiring equation because they are deemed incapable of handling the work.

To make matters worse, small business is not contributing to the conversation regarding the lack of talent. Recently, I attended a STEM symposium, hosted by the Engineering Society of Detroit. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It is the process of teaching that integrates these four disciplines to promote real-world experience, teamwork, and the authentic application of technology. Additionally, it also promotes discovery, problem-based learning, and project-based learning. The focus of symposium was to bring together stakeholders who share in the problem facing educators, government officials, big business, small business and students. Not a single small business, one with less than 200 employees, attended the conference.

Big business has different needs. They are looking for people with experience with mechatronics (a multidisciplinary field of engineering) and they have told educators to start implementing this request into their curriculum. While these employees will help big companies, the need of the small manufacturer was not brought to the surface at the symposium. There wasn’t any talk of vocational training programs like welding or CNC machinist training. Small business missed a huge opportunity to have their voices heard and did not contribute to the conversation regarding the lack of talent in the near future.