It’s About the Workforce

Is concern about the long-term condition, quality, and engagement of the national and global workforce an HR issue, a corporate social responsibility issue, or a government issue? The answer to all is yes.
By Elliot Clark
In no single issue does the crossover of corporate responsibility and human resources stand in more bold relief. In no other social issue do corporate shared values and social responsibility, government educational functions, and organizational human capital strategic objectives more resoundingly align. One would think that everyone would rush in resources, coalesce around the issues at hand, and move rapidly to implement solutions.
To be fair, everyone agrees there is a problem. We have had a significant response to our upcoming Workforce Congress Program (see below) to address these readiness issues, skills gap issues, veteran hiring issues, etc. We have representatives from the government—Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier, Assistant Secretary Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education—and nongovernmental group leaders like Scott Case from Start Up America. We have David Lett, VP of Raytheon Professional Services, presenting a successful program on apprenticeship that Raytheon has done in partnership with the government of the United Kingdom to develop job skills in high school students so they enter the labor force with employable skills.
Our Workforce Congress, a two-part event that takes place on May 1 in Washington, D.C. and October 2 in New York City, will be attended by corporate leaders, NGOs, media, and academic experts. Presentations will be heard, but primarily the event will feature interactive discussions exploring solutions. We will also hold debates on how to surmount the obstacles.
I have stated before that I get tired of hearing that the world-class measure of HR is how little it costs. The measure of HR should be how big its impact is! Is this not the preeminent issue of our time, and is not talent and the workforce the number one concern of CEOs and hiring managers?
In the PwC 15th Annual Global CEO Survey of 2012 more than 90 percent of the 1,200-plus leaders polled felt that workforce productivity issues were very important, but only 20 percent felt they had good access to data they needed. Of the CEOs, 79 percent now have the CHRO reporting to them as a direct report, and on average this group has fewer than 10 direct reports. The CEO knows that HR is critical and that the quality of the workforce is a strategic advantage.

So, HR already owns the workforce issue. Who better to own this on the corporate social responsibility stage and demonstrate company-wide and broader social impact than HR? HR should take the lead on this important program. It has broad implications across many aspects of the global business community and touches social topics such as education, age-related demographics, and wage arbitrage-related outsourcing decisions.
Even the issue of understanding the current state of the workforce within companies is a critical issue. To hearken back to the issue of the CEO and senior leadership having or understanding the data, some is available through HRMS systems on worker productivity, but the best reporting I have seen on workforce analytics in on the contingent worker side, provided as part of managed service program service reporting packages. The CHRO has traditionally left the governance of the MSP program and the vendor management system to the procurement group. I would argue that the CHRO should see what these providers and programs can offer on workforce analytics on contingent labor and adapt it to their FTE labor as well.
The workforce issues and engagement are also changing as millennial workers become a larger component and aging workers retire. We all understand engagement. Corporate Executive Board’s 2010 survey showed that engaged workers put forth 57 percent greater effort and are 87 percent less likely to resign. These are the challenges the HRO Today Workforce Congress and the HRO Today Institute will be addressing. For more information or to become part of the group that can make a difference, please visit:


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