Now that the presidential election is over, business leaders are implementing contingency plans that have been gathering dust on their shelves. Decision-making has increased at the senior levels, stimulating significant forward movement among middle managers. The economy is on the move again.
While the economy is expanding, there still are a considerable number of executives are reluctant to make strategic decisions, observes Roger Herman, CEO of The Herman Group, a workforce forecasting firm based in Greensboro, NC. As we move into 2005, their hesitancy will put them at a serious competitive disadvantage. Competition for resources, customers, and employees will intensify. Working out good deals with suppliers will be an ongoing activity; salespeople are already dancing with customers to create ramp-up arrangements for strong positioning in the year ahead. The economy is poised for dramatic growth, but is temporarily inhibited by the cost and availability of resources.
Resources for construction, manufacturing, and many service sector companies are in short supply and carry costs that make it difficult to generate profits. International growth in development---industrial and residential structures, as well as highways and utilities---has created increasing demand for commodities like concrete and steel. The cost of fuel has driven up the cost of transportation of goods. Maintenance companies that use gasoline-powered equipment now experience significant impacts on their operating expenses. Healthcare costs affect most businesses, influencing staffing decisions that inhibit capacities to accomplish work that needs to be done.
Herman point out that human resources is emerging as the dominant challenge for employers. Competition for skilled workers is already a major issue in a number of industries. As you read this report, America faces serious shortages of skilled workers in a number of healthcare fields, education, construction trades, hospitality, scientific research, automotive and recreational vehicle service, and computerized machine operation.
The vast majority of employers surveyed in a recent study by The Herman Group acknowledged current staffing vacancies. With the downsizing and tightsizing that has been rampant over the past few years, there is practically no redundancy in corporate staffing. There are no extra positions; every position in the company is essential to mission fulfillment. Under this model, the open jobs reported today are all critical to accomplishment of the employers' work. Put another way, the thousands of vacancies that exist---across industry lines---are all mission-critical. Employers must either find and hire people to perform these jobs or risk being at a dangerous competitive disadvantage in their markets.
Employment in the United States is now in a highly dynamic state. Economic expansion is already driving job growth. Researchers and forecasters in government agencies, universities, and private forecasting firms anticipate an overall job gain of 2 million jobs in 2005---a growth rate of 150,000 to 200,000 jobs per month. These jobs must be filled by people qualified to perform the work, and those skilled workers are in historically short supply. Never before have we faced the deep shortages that will plague employers during the coming months and years, warns Herman.
In their recent book, "Impending Crisis: Too Many Jobs, Too Few People," Herman and his colleagues alert employers to the possibility of skill shortages exceeding 10 million jobs. Not having enough qualified workers can be devastating to unprepared employers, Herman asserts.
Human resource professionals will respond to this crisis situation by strengthening their recruiting and hiring process. Less attention will be paid to employee retention, though that part of the workforce flow is vitally important. The big job will be training and retraining of our workforce---in every industry and community in the country. Public schools, universities, and particularly community and technical colleges will be called on to prepare tomorrow's workforce---on a much faster schedule than they anticipated.
The ground is fertile for economic growth. Aggressive employers who can attract, train, optimize, and retain top talent, will control the playing field in the years ahead. Those employers who are slow to act risk slipping into an unstoppable downward spiral. Some companies are already in trouble, in the eyes of their employees, judging by the nominations received at http://www.corporatesuicidewatch.com. Restless employees are becoming more bold in expressing their dissatisfaction and their readiness to move to different companies.
The Herman Group is a firm of consulting futurists concentrating on workforce and workplace trends and their implications. Emphasis is placed on employee selection and retention as critical strategies. Included in the firm are researchers, professional speakers, authors, and consultants. The Herman Group is based in Greensboro, NC, with affiliates in Sao Paulo, Melbourne, Hong Kong, and Port Louis, Mauritius. Contact Joyce Gioia-Herman at 336-210-3548 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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