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Staffing Management: Upfront

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Vol. 3, No. 4

Research Reveals Gap In Strategic Workforce Planning. Contingent Workforce To Grow Sharply. More.


Research Reveals Gap In Strategic Workforce Planning

A survey of C-level executives, corporate strategists and HR executives concludes that there is a significant difference between companies' knowledge of an impending workforce crisis and their plans to meet it.

The report from Aruspex, a strategic workforce planning consultancy and software firm, is titled "The Gap Between Needing and Doing: A Survey on Why Some Companies Don't Act on Strategic Workforce Planning Needs, and How Successful Companies Do." The free report is available from the Aruspex web site .

"Companies have often misunderstood the role, scope and benefits of workforce planning and have felt reluctant or unqualified to begin," says Tess Walton, Aruspex co-founder.

Sixty-two percent of companies responding to the survey say they have the talent to deliver on current business requirements, while 22 percent say they do not, and 16 percent claim not to know.

But this reflects nothing about their readiness for future needs. Fifty-nine percent of respondents say their organization is not adequately staffed for the future, and only 46 percent say they have any kind of workforce planning framework at all.

Why not? A chart from the report provides specifics, see above. Among common workforce planning mistakes cited in the research:

  • Calling a headcount budget a workforce plan and failing to include qualitative analysis leading to a comprehensive action plan rather than a simple number.
  • Devising a model of the future workforce without engaging the people at the company's front lines to put issues in real-world perspective and provide qualitative input.
  • Emphasizing the company's internal data without integrating external information into the mix and adjusting the analysis accordingly.

The research report also covers primary demographic and other factors affecting today's workforce, best practices in workforce planning and how HR fits into the process.

"This report confirms that the world's leading companies are no longer settling for a basic 12-month staffing plan," notes Stacy Chapman, Aruspex co-founder. "Instead, they are seeking a long-term view that incorporates external trends, such as workforce aging, and accesses talent pools in a new and strategic way."

Contingent Workforce To Grow Sharply

The contingent workforce is expected to grow to 10 percent of the U.S. workforce within two years, according to a report from Staffing Industry Analysts. The largest growth in temporary and contract workers is expected in the pharmaceutical, biotech and retail sectors.

The 2007 Staffing Buyers Survey finds that:

  • Seventy-seven percent of the companies surveyed in the report expect to grow their contingent workforce over the next three to five years.
  • Procurement managers, rather than human resources professionals, will increasingly control the management of contingent labor programs.
  • As the expense of contingent labor reaches tens of millions of dollars, more companies will implement better management controls, including technology platforms such as vendor management systems (VMS). Tech/engineering, energy/chemical and pharma/biotech will be the sectors most likely to add VMS systems.
  • The retail/consumer sector, which has traditionally used less contingent labor than other segments of the economy, is likely to be among the fastest growing users of temporary workers in the short term.

10 Background-Screening Trends To Track in 2008

Jason Morris, chief operating officer and president of employeescreenIQ (www.employeescreen .com), identifies 10 key backgroundscreening trends to watch for in 2008:

  • Privacy, data protection. Privacy issues will continue to dominate the news and industry dialogue, Morris says. The issue will continue to be a hot topic on Capitol Hill.
  • Verification of right-to-work. The government is discussing mandating electronic verification of the I-9 form, the form used to verify citizenship and right-to-work in the United States. Currently employees fill out the form, show documentation that proves identity and are then eligible to work. The new system, the SAVE Program (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements), is electronic and allows instant confirmation. Morris says employeescreenIQ believes it is likely this new system will be mandated for use by all employers by the end of this year. The system has already been mandated for use in Colorado.
  • International screening. While not a new facet of the industry, Morris says that international background screening continues to gain in importance as U.S. companies open offices globally and/or recruit overseas candidates to work in the United States.
  • Blogs and social networking sites. These web sites continue to be an extremely hot topic, according to Morris. He says the question continues to be "how should they be used in the hiring process?"
  • Credit reports. The questions in this area continue to be: Should an applicant's credit history factor into his or her background check? If so, what determines hirable or non-hirable credit?
  • Balancing rights. The question here will be finding ways to balance comprehensive background reports with consumers' rights so as to avoid creating a class of people with records who cannot get jobs.
  • Universities. Following the April 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, the topic of screening students, faculty and staff has been raised and will continue to be discussed as educational institutions look to avoid future catastrophic events. Universities are beginning to see the value in screening staff and even screening new students, Morris said.
  • Applicant tracking systems. The prevalence of applicant tracking and HR information systems will continue to increase, especially among mid-sized companies, allowing HR departments to consolidate work, he says.
  • Industry growth. Before Sept. 11, only the largest companies did back- 10 Background-Screening Trends To Track in 2008 ground checks. Today, nearly all largeand mid-sized companies are using them. Over the next year, he predicts, this practice will continue to trickle into the small-business arena.
  • Disputing records. As employers look for more information during the hiring process, they and their background- screening agents must continue to protect consumers by providing avenues for them to dispute background reports, Morris notes.

Graduate's Major Top Priority for Employers

A student's academic major was the No. 1 priority for 42 percent of employers who were asked about top hiring considerations, according to Asked to rank criteria in order of importance when hiring new college graduates, employers listed:

  1. The student's major (42 percent.)
  2. The student's interviewing skills (25 percent.)
  3. The student's internship/experience (16 percent.)
  4. Other miscellaneous qualifications (10 percent.)
  5. The student's computer skills (3 percent.)
  6. The student's personal appearance (2 percent.)
  7. The student's grade point average (1 percent.)
  8. The college the student graduated from (1 percent.)

The information was gathered while compiling the list of more than 500 Top Entry Level Employers for 2007. The full survey is available at www.collegegrad. com/surveys/topemployers/.

Performance Benefits Linked To Talent Management

Talent management is associated with performance benefits for companies that manage it well, according to an Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) study.

But talent management is a poorly defined and executed concept in many other companies, with only about a third of participants rating their organizations as good (30 percent) or excellent (5 percent) at managing talent. A quarter of respondents say their organizations have an agreed-on definition of talent management, and 38 percent say the phrase is used to a high or an abovemoderate degree.

Companies that define the phrase and use it more frequently are much more likely to see themselves as good at managing talent. More important, the study found that these same companies are significantly more likely to be high market performers. Whereas only about a third of all respondents rate their ability to manage talent as good or excellent, nearly half of the best market performers in the survey do.

The study shows that companies that identify themselves as good talent managers are also more likely to integrate talent management with other human capital processes. And they are more likely to believe that all managers, not just HR professionals, are responsible for the execution of talent management. "It's no surprise to me that talent management pays performance dividends when it's done right," says Jay Jamrog, i4cp's senior vice president of research. "As the war for talent heats up, more companies will be looking at integrated talent management as their secret weapon to succeed and ultimately outperform. But it has to be more than just a buzzword. It has to become part of the culture of the organization, and the responsibility has to be borne by groups outside of the HR department." Jamrog notes that integrating talent management into the culture requires communicating what it means and why it's important. The i4cp survey shows that the most widely cited strategy for improving talent management is to more effectively communicate its importance.

Participants in the study also helped define what goes into an integrated talent management initiative. The study identified nine primary components: leadership development, career planning, development of high-potential employees, performance management, succession planning, learning and training, competency management, retention and professional development. "Understanding what the most important components of talent management are can go a long way toward helping organizations integrate the concept into their cultures and other human capital processes," said Jamrog. "Clearly, it's a lot easier to manage something well if you know what you're trying to manage." The Talent Management Survey was conducted by i4cp, in conjunction with It was based on responses from 524 business professionals.


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