Last time, I discussed how employer attitudes are contributing to today’s recruiting challenges and used examples from the worlds of golf and politics to illustrate those attitudes and how candidates are reacting to them. There are three fundamental changes employers need to make to address today’s recruiting challenges. Let’s discuss them here.
Understand HOW People Want to Work
Stop thinking that this is a phase and it will pass. Stop assuming people don’t want to work – they do – just not in the way they did before, or for the kinds of companies they did in the past. Stop thinking of returning back to the way things were in 2019.
Instead, shift your focus out 10 years from now to understand how the workforce is changing demographically. It is estimated that by 2030, just 7.5 years from now, over 66% of the workforce will be Millennials and Gen Z, with Gen Alpha (the generation after Gen Z) hot on their heels and expected to have two billion total cohorts by 2025. This means the workforce you are trying to lure back to the office will look nothing like it does today in less than a decade. If you are building your business, practice, or firm in a way that focuses on how you have always done things, you run the risk of being an obsolete employer to the droves of talent you will need to thrive. In other words, you will simply not be an option of choice.
This change won’t happen overnight. Start by finding ways to provide flexibility in how work gets done. Sure, the idea of remote work in a law firm is scary and so is the idea of real work enablement technology in a historically tech adverse environment. But, if you don’t start to explore ways to create flexibility and focus on the outputs in work rather than the time in the office, the challenges in hiring young talent will continue to grow, and that threatens your ability to sustain, let alone grow your business.
Reimagine Your Business
It’s important to spend time, either internally or with an external partner, exploring how to reimagine your business in terms of who does what and when. As I mentioned above, the generations you will need to hire in the coming years focus on output rather than time spent. If you miss this concept and try to work them into the idea of a 40 hour work week at your legal tech company, or work in an office (even hybrid environments), or lock them in to a minimum acceptable billable hour number at your firm, you’ll lose the very people you spend considerable time, effort, and money trying to recruit and hire into your companies.
One example on how to approach this how Japanese manufacturers did so during the evolution of Lean Manufacturing. Reimagine how you can take that example (or others you choose) and retool your business to meet the demands of the modern workforce and clientele. I mention clients because the clients you serve will also be run by the same generations that work for you, sooner than you think.
Become the Option of Choice
Perhaps most importantly, invest in understanding why recruiting is so challenging. It’s not an issue of entitlement or a changing work ethic. It’s about options.
The pandemic showed the workforce many things. It taught them they could be good corporate citizens from their couch. It taught them that even though they had shown they could be productive at a similar, or elevated level in some cases, that many of the companies they worked for were not inclined to afford them the opportunity to have what they perceived as real work/life balance. As such, they began to explore their options.
Here is where it gets interesting: The workforce’s understanding of their work options is accelerating, and they are choosing new options over the tried and true.
A recent survey by CNBC found that more than 60% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 are looking to entrepreneurship over traditional careers paths as they plan their future. They are smart, tech savvy, and are educating themselves through technology and social media. They are doing research, talking to current entrepreneurs, and learning how to build online brands and businesses. In short, they are exploring their options and gravitating toward those things that provide the income they want and give them the work/life balance they demand.
To take this a step further, noted Digital Media expert and entrepreneur, Gary Vanyerchuk, recently suggested that if you think The Great Resignation was bad what until we get to the “Great Never Applying at All.” In my opinion, this is already underway.
So, what does that mean for your company or firm? Simply put: You need to figure out how to be an Option of Choice. If you are a law firm, this can seem daunting given the embedded systems you have in place for advancement to the equity partner position. If you are a tech or services company you may think offering remote work, unlimited PTO, or Voluntary Benefits Programs may get the job done. It will take more than that.
Solving for this issue requires a rethinking of the “When, Where and How” of work. To do that you must let go of the idea that this is the way we have always done it. Workers may find themselves in a short-term bind if the job market slows, but trends and belief systems are hard to change when the thought process around employment shifts as dramatically as it has over the last 10 years.
The pandemic was not the cause of this shift. It was an accelerator of a process that started over a decade ago.
Spend time discovering the options available to you to meet these challenges. I guarantee that the workforce of today and tomorrow is doing the same thing.
So, what do you think of the three fundamental changes employers need to make? How is your organization addressing today’s recruiting challenges? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.
Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.