HRO and the Coming Labor Shortage

The time to think about the future is now.

by Matt DeLuca

Hype or dire prediction, HR professionals everywhere should always be on the lookout for state-of-the-art opportunities to find great employees not only for the HR department but also for the entire organization. You may recall a reference in previous columns to HR Management in the Knowledge Economy and its identification of the four major roles of the HR professional. Here I will ask you to keep two rolesrelationship builder and rapid deployment specialistin mind.  

 

Robert J. Grossman, a professor at Marist College (a bastion of quantitative research), published an article in the March 2005 issue of HR Magazine that separates the hype from the dire predictions of the looming disparity between the demand and supply of the U.S. workforce. The research concludes that the media hype asserting that by 2012 there will be 10 million more jobs than people to fill them should not be a concern. Although he does conclude with a hypothesis that has already been haunting usdo we have enough talent for an increasingly demanding workplace? The answer is a resounding NO!

 

Do you recall how, during the late 1990s, people were hired by all kinds of fast-growth firms just because we need bodies? I do. I witnessed unsolicited resumes without interviews turned into hires just because they need to be hired now. I also recall organizations unable to get products to market because they could not find people with the skills required. After reading Grossmans article and reviewing the Bureau of Labor Statistics research upon which that article heavily relied, I am convinced that the talent pool respite we have had of late is sooner or later going to be replaced by a long brutal global war for talent. There is already pressure on the lowest level jobs.

 

The Wall Street Journal recently had a front page article about lettuce pickers in Arizonathere arent any. For one simple reason: The workers who used to do it have moved on to better paying jobs. This, to me, is a first link in the food chain (no pun intended). The ripple effect has already started.

 

So what does this have to do with HRO? As a relationship builder and rapid deployment specialist, the HR professional should be anticipating the scarcity of talentnot only in HR but also in the rest of the organization. Ongoing review of core versus commoditized activities should become part of the organizations DNA. External alternative sources to accomplish tasks, activities, and even entire functions should be on your radar screen so that they are continuously being evaluated in light of your organizations current and anticipated demands. Internally, you need to work closely with various key players to determine the climate and readiness for moving one or more additional activities to outside providers (or alternatively, determining if any should be brought back in-house.)

 

To test any and all assumptions, HR needs to be ever vigilant for opportunities to do the following:

* Enhance current service levels and relationships

*Identify additional potential avenues, including offshoring, for further exploration

*Ensure comprehensive due diligence and demonstrate your state-of-the-art knowledge about todays products and services

*Build a familiarity of best practices

*Identify the leading buyers and players (as well as those less so) in this ever-changing marketplace to determine who is doing what. Compare this years leading deals with last years. Recall last years players and major buyers. How are those deals doing? What has been learned? Are there any warning signs?

 

If we don’t find out what is and what isnt working, we are more likely to repeat the problems of these earlier adaptersbuyers and providers alike. If you spent some time at the 2005 HRO World conference in New York, you were able, in just a few hours, to test and update your knowledge base. Dont stop there. Feel guilty if you arent spending time weekly surveying the internal and external marketplace for contacts, information, relationships, and solutions. As Grossman warns, this process is not a quick turnaround andlet me addthe process is as important, if not more so, than any future, specific result. Besides, it is much more exciting to be part of the process, so why delay? Your organizations very survival is at stake.  

Posted May 10, 2005 in Talent Acquisition

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