Human Resources Trends: Leadership Challenges
While many companies have steadily overcome the economic impact of the recession, developing effective leadership in the workplace continues to challenge human resources professionals nationwide. According to a survey conducted by the Society of Human Resources Management, HR managers are concerned about the lack of skilled workers, a trend they predict will affect the labor force for years to come. Without properly qualified staff, the current employment environment experiences a “skills gap,” eventually leading to a shortage of potential managers, supervisors, and other executive leadership candidates.
Of the HR professionals surveyed by Society of Human Resources Management, 98% believe that a shortage of skilled workers (page 15) will have some impact on the labor force in the next five years. Professions in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (so-called STEM jobs) are the most difficult to fill. Global competition has forced many American companies to go overseas or seek non-immigrant visas, which are offered specifically for technology-focused jobs. While foreign workers supply a small segment of experienced STEM professionals, HR departments are exploring in-house options to the talent shortage. Educational programs for current employees that might not have the skills, but show potential in attaining them, is a common solution for 36% of American employers (page 10), according to a 2012 Manpower Group survey. This way, human resources professionals are able to retain employees without spending the resources to recruit new talent.
Remaining competitive in the marketplace hinges on keeping the best people for the job. As the Baby Boomer generation retires and their leadership positions become vacant, human resources managers will face the challenge of locating suitable replacements. However, many employees of retirement age have delayed retirement due to economic uncertainty. This means that human resources professionals must seek ways to develop the leadership skills of young workers in an environment with few advancement opportunities. When the promotions do become available, companies with proactive HR departments will be prepared for the leadership turnover.
Helping the younger generation of workers feel empowered during a lack of career progression and underemployment will provide an opportunity for HR professionals to create mentorship programs. By connecting the older generation to new employees, human resources managers can retain the skillset of retirees by allowing them to pass on their knowledge in a way that involves all levels of the company. While mentorship programs give access to proven methods of success, HR managers should be on the lookout for new developments that might benefit the office culture. As innovations in technology and social media change the way younger employees interact, human resources professionals must be flexible in the ways they engage this new generation of workers.
This is a very exciting time to be a human resources professional. Saint Francis University offers an online Master of Human Resource Management degree that attends to the current issues facing HR departments today. Approved by the Society of Human Resources Management, this online degree program offers a course specifically focused on developing leadership in the workplace.