Analysis

Mid-market perspectives blog

Job growth points to pitched war for talent

The latest employment figures out from the Labor Department suggest that the challenge of attracting and retaining talent may increase for many middle market companies. The monthly employment report, which showed the U.S. economy added 321,000 jobs in November, indicates 2014 is shaping up to be the strongest year for job growth since 1999.

Job growth points to pitched war for talent

December 16, 2014

A blog post by Roger Nanney, national managing partner for Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services, Deloitte LLP

The latest employment figures out from the Labor Department suggest that the challenge of attracting and retaining talent may increase for many middle market companies. The monthly employment report, which showed the U.S. economy added 321,000 jobs in November, indicates 2014 is shaping up to be the strongest year for job growth since 1999. 

Even before the Labor Department report, we saw strong evidence that companies are finding it tough to land skilled workers as they look to expand and compete. In Deloitte’s recently completed survey of U.S. mid-market executives, nearly two-thirds agreed it is difficult for their companies to find new employees with the skills and education to meet the needs of their business. The leaders of major U.S. corporations aren’t finding it any easier, as the Business Roundtable recently found that 97 percent of 126 CEOs surveyed by the organization report that the skills gap is a problem.

How companies react to this increasingly competitive hiring landscape could spell the difference between growing at their potential and settling for something less. That’s why it’s so encouraging to hear from many of our clients in the middle market that they are experimenting with a number of approaches to deal with skill gaps and meet their workforce needs. Here’s what’s at the top of their list:

  • In-house training. Rather than hold out for the most highly qualified candidates, companies are increasingly looking for capable employees they can train to bridge skills gaps. In fact, training was the number one response cited by the middle market executives in our survey for addressing skills shortages. It was also discussed by CEOs during our Virtual Perspectives panel on December 4. Training programs are helping leading companies bring new workers up to speed quickly and position them for future promotions. These efforts are primed to accelerate if companies can replicate academia’s early successes with online learning tools.
  • Healthy work-life balance. Mid-market employers are focused like never before on providing employees a healthy work-life balance, as the issue was cited in our survey as one of the most popular vehicles for attracting new talent. Balancing work and personal lives can involve offering flexible work hours, but increasingly we are seeing middle market businesses go beyond the basics by adding incentives such as wellness and exercise programs, telecommuting options, parenting classes and support for aging relatives. It’s little surprise that such programs report high levels of employee engagement.
  • Technology as an all-around solution. Finally, mid-market companies tell us they are turning to technology not only to make employees more productive, but also to help identify and screen candidates and manage their performance once hired. Analytics can be a powerful tool and can help drive engagement if used as a part of a talent management strategy.

It’s often the culture of mid-market companies that attracts talent. Many are well-known for the qualities that job seekers covet the most: entrepreneurialism, access to top leaders and opportunities for advancement. But in today’s competitive environment with many mid-market companies planning to hire and the skills gap a real issue, it may take more than an appealing culture to recruit strong talent. With a heightened focus on innovative training opportunities, work-life fit programs and technology tools, mid-market companies better position themselves to win the war for talent and fulfill their growth ambitions.

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