There seems to be a mismatch between the available jobs and the skills/interest of those able to fill them.

If you’re in health care or want a front-line service job, I think you are able to have your choice of employers. There are billboards all over town seeking to hire people for permanent positions or seasonal help. Bath and Body Works attached a “come work for us” message as part of their mass mailing of coupons. A local manufacturer has signs in the yards of their employees as a way for them to recruit colleagues. Referral or sign-on bonuses are plentiful, putting the employee in the driver’s seat to be choosy.

Yet, about 12.6 million people are unemployed in the United States right now, many of them professionals and skilled workers who are still seeking a job without the openings that align with their talents and abilities.

It all points to the increasing role of human resources in organizations – and society – not just as the paperwork-processors, but as a key leadership role that can strategically forecast and plan for the alignment of talent and workforce needs. As jobs become more technical and specialized, it isn’t like previous times where you could put an ad in the paper and easily find qualified people to fill your needs.

To me, it also highlights the critical role that leadership and culture play in organizations today. As I have written about earlier this week, retaining employees becomes as essential as hiring them. With the increased ability to work from anywhere, people have more freedom and the mobility to jump ship if your conditions are not conducive to work-life balance, meaningful work, or an equitable environment.

HR has, too often and for too long, been in the background as a support function. The current climate calls for that area to have a set at the senior leadership table. Without the right people, there is no organization.

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