I recognize it is not all employers and there are some that are putting themselves in a good position for the next coming years and even decade. My corporate work is really about “waking the corporate world up” to what is happening and getting them to look at how they are doing business and discerning, are we prepared for the trends and opportunities for the next decade?

The problem is that businesses are only looking to the moment, which in Canada is not so bad compared to the rest of the world. The financial crisis that has been looming in the US and Europe only touched us but a fraction. That is because our financial institutions were proactive in their stringent policies and when the rest of the world, especially in their banking systems, were struggling Canada maintained a good, I will even say a strong position.

What’s the problem? We are still hearing the word “recession” and need to be cautious or that the Bank of Canada doesn’t know what it will do. One of our strengths is that we are cautious in Canada and I will equally say, one of our curses is that we are cautious in Canada.

The good news is that it is predicted that our housing market is moving to a balanced market, it will correct itself (swing will be impacted be rate changes). Staffing agency, Manpower’s latest quarterly report on job prospect showed that 21% of the country’s employers plan to expand staff levels in the fourth quarter, 7% will reduce, 70% had no change, 2% were unsure. This is a positive score of 15% (proportion planning to hire minus(-) planning layoffs + adjusted for seasonal variations). In Ontario the impact has been a resurgence in the Automotive industry and in Western and Atlantic Canada it is due to mining.

Things are starting to look good. So what is the issue?? The issue is that we are already according to Stats Canada in the midst of a labour shortage that will have a substantial impact across wide sectors of the economy in the service-producing sector; a sector that represents three and a half times more people than the goods-producing sector. It is said we are entering the decade of the “Talent Hunt”. One large contributing factor is the baby boomers retiring and the number of youth entering the market is not enough to make up this difference. The difference will come from immigration. Canada has the highest rate in immigration of any western nation. This presents other opportunities which I will address at another time.

Today I want to focus on looking at our talent pool here now and how companies, large and small, can begin to
address employee retention, sustainability. One way is through employee engagement. After conducting my research over the last year it is apparent that many companies do not truly understand the wants and desires of the youth, employee engagement and how the mighty dollar is not exclusively what will attract your talent pool in the future.

Here is a quote I took from an article in the National Post that stated, “The day is gone when a company could post a job and take their pick from responses. Now it must sustain an ongoing campaign to court and entice the best talent over a period of time. Highly skilled people in today’s job market are clear about what they want from employers – opportunities for development and promotion, good compensation and having a good work/life balance – and are willing to settle for less”.

Employers first need to look to their internal talent pool, their human resources – are you fully engaging your employees and getting 100% of their effort? My gut tells me no. Empowering your internal resource, your people, can alter and shift your corporate culture to one of involvement, innovation, creativity and expansion.

What is Employee Engagement? Here is a simple definition: Employee engagement as “an employee’s involvement with, commitment to, and satisfaction with work”. It is about integrating employees into the broader management style of workplace well-being.

Here are some factors that influence Employee Engagement:

* Employers commitment to and concern for employees’ welfare
* Employee perceptions of job importance
* Clarity of job’s expectations
* Career advancement opportunities
* Regular dialogue with superiors
* Quality of working relationship with co-workers and superiors
* Perceptions of working relationships and values of organization
* Employee rewards and recognition

Today I posted an article from a young woman who talked about her decision to work with a small start-up firm versus a larger, multi-layered organization. To read the entire story go to Voices of Wisdom Blog. I have taken a small section for you to read:

My decision to join a start-up was influenced by my previous experience working for a large corporation over three summers. Although I had a stable pay check, money to pay off my university debt, and a job that looks good on my resume, I observed layers of management where I was far removed from having any influence on decision making, and my work had little contribution to the bottom line. The inner mechanisms of a large corporation simply did not fulfill my aspirations to make an immediate contribution and my desire to leverage my toolbox of skills. In the end, I felt my career would be richer both in satisfaction and potential compensation working for a smaller company.
While I have only been with the company for a short time, I have been exposed to much more than I had in previous work terms. I also see a much broader spectrum of the business world. I feel that I am an equal, not someone at the bottom of the ladder of the corporate hierarchy, not a recent graduate, not a woman, not a new hire who needs to prove their worthiness. I am more appreciated than I have ever been in a work environment. Everything I do makes a significant impact to the firm and provides an immediate sense of accomplishment. From researching a stock to designing a brochure, I know that each decision I make, and every hour I put in, is highly valued. All these experiences have reinforced my career decision.

This article represents that thoughts of many other young highly skilled people. For employers this can also give you insight to how your company is operating. Are you a multi-layered, hierarchical corporation where those at the bottom are treated as such or do you want to become a dynamic, innovative, inclusive corporate culture where the skills and knowledge of all employees are recognized and considered?

Be one of those companies that begins to look within. Assess your corporate culture. Is it one that entices an employee to stay or is it one that when the market starts to open up your highly skilled employees will jump ship for something that resonates with them more? Does your on-line presence fully capture who you are and why a highly skilled person would want to join your organization?

This is some food for thought. To learn more about what I do go to my Corporate Section and About Me section (to be added this week). This is my work!

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