This is the equivalent of $8.452 trillion in lost revenue. While the shortage of skilled talent is never far from the news agenda, it seems very little is done to discuss potential solutions or expand perspectives on where talent can be found.
To understand why such forecasts are expected, we have to consider whether some companies are limiting their options by only recruiting certain employees. Are they considering applicants from all geographical locations? Are they excluding willing and able segments of the population representing all ages, walks of life, and backgrounds? What if businesses are overlooking skills?
Ensuring their search for talent is as wide as possible requires businesses to focus on five key areas.
A flexible approach to management
Organisations are facing an industry first. Traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation X, millennials, and Generation Z are all working together – bringing five different generations into the workforce. This creates an opportunity for greater collaboration, more varied perspectives and a more flexible approach to management in order to accommodate the needs of different generations who may have differing preferred ways of working.
Embracing a multigenerational workforce will influence workplace culture. As a result, organisations must ensure any approach is appropriate and makes good business sense. To gain this “big picture” view, organisations must consider their core business values as well as the culture and purpose they are aiming to build.
The strategic business priorities must also be factored in to determine the most appropriate approach. Additionally, business leaders must ask themselves what flexible arrangements are necessary to attract, retain, and engage a broad and more diverse pool of talent to achieve productivity and success across the workforce.
Inclusivity during recruitment
Businesses today should reconsider their recruitment processes and policies – carefully considering whether unconscious bias may be creeping in. Too often, shortlists reflect only a limited spectrum of talent. To overcome this, businesses should consider the following when hiring:
- Are they being inclusive of all ages, physical abilities, socioeconomic backgrounds, locations, genders, and gender identities?
- How are CVs being filtered and are any strong candidates being excluded, due to age or restrictive criteria, at the first hurdle?
- Does the shortlist truly reflect the full spectrum of potential talent available for the role?
Diverse role models
Too few diverse role models are available for others to see and follow. Today in the UK there are more chief executives called Steve in the FTSE 100 than there are from an ethnic minority, while two-thirds (67%) of Britain’s companies still have an all-white leadership team. With fewer diverse leaders, valuable talent can often go overlooked or undiscovered because fewer people at the top are sponsoring, mentoring and championing individuals from differing backgrounds.
Geographically dispersed teams
Focusing the search for talent in cities automatically narrows it down – ignoring those who prefer to live outside the city centre. Companies must recognise that technological advances mean they can reach out to the best talent, no matter where it is located, rather than expecting skilled individuals to move for them.
Organisations could considerably broaden their search for talent by creating a flexible workplace where individuals can work from regional locations or at a location that suits their requirements, whether it’s being near family, health factors or simply preferring to live in more rural areas. Being physically present should no longer be a requirement for most jobs. A flexible working policy can help to create a more level playing field, broadening the potential pool of available talent.
Language has a tremendous power to exclude and discriminate against certain groups of people. Using certain wording or language in job descriptions can discourage people from applying to certain jobs. For instance, ‘competitive’ is a masculine-coded word while ‘considerate’ is broadly seen as a feminine-coded word.
Of course, women can be competitive and men can be considerate yet underlying cultural stereotypes around words like these can influence who puts themselves forward for the role. Luckily, organisations can use technology like this gender decoder tool to identify any subtle gender-coding and make changes to avoid discouraging candidates.
In 2019, we’re still referring to “diversity” but in an ideal world, we shouldn’t need to do this. Organisations should reflect the makeup of society by default, without having to make a concerted effort. By recognising this and getting the organisational culture right, businesses will able to tap into more talent despite the skills crisis.
About the author
Jane Higgs is the Sr HR Business Partner, Citrix