We’ve got a serious problem. A talent shortage that has companies scrambling to figure out ways to meet the growing demands of business with fewer skilled workers. So far, no one seems to have a solution. What I’ve seen are companies looking at small steps, little changes that might make them more attractive to scarce talent. But I say we toss that, and think really big for a change. I mean really BIG, as in completely transform the way we do things. The following ideas are certainly controversial. Yet, if we don’t find a radical solution to this immense problem, we’re going to see companies failing because they can’t find the skilled human beings they need.
Before I jump into ideas, let me just say that this isn’t about traditional education and it isn’t enough to assume that technology will be the answer. In fact, I would argue that it is precisely the skills that technology cannot and will not be able to do – the very human skills – that are and will be most needed. So, we’ve got to rethink everything from all angles. The conversation needs to widen and deepen, we need to be as innovative in creating a solution for the talent shortage, as we are in innovating new technology. And the time to start is now.
Here are five radical solutions to ponder
1: Companies share talent pools. For example, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have their talent acquisition teams get together and share data in some form that enables the hiring of talent for both talent pools.
2: Job sharing across companies. Permanent employees are shared between organizations. So, you have an engineer and you have a project in Dallas, and another company has a project in Dallas and you both need an engineer for two days, that employee works for both your companies. You split the salary, benefits and associated costs. Or if you don’t have space for someone with rare talent, you share him or her with another company who does have space. The question to ask is: is it better to have someone at 50 per cent and share, than to not have the resource at all? Does it make economic sense?
3. Contract/freelance becomes your predominant workforce. Most organisations are very permanent-hire centric, with contract/freelance being a minority. What if we switch that on its head? Build a business that is majority freelance, mobile, and temporary. Your C-suite and senior managers are your only permanent employees. You can attract talent when and where you need it and not worry about pension plans, health plans, etc. The entire workforce is moving to be more mobile, flexible, and always connected, so this could be a very attractive option to the younger generation.
4. Employees vote for the CEO, C-suite, and top 100 managers every year. Before you dismiss this, consider this: most people leave a company because of bad bosses and poor leadership. So what if we give the power back to the people, and in a democratic way, they get to vote once a year to determine if the majority believe that the leadership has earned the right to stay in their positions?
5. Business runs education. There are already many examples of businesses partnering with colleges and universities where they are directing the educational program. But what if they were to start much farther down, in primary school? Businesses can partner with local education authorities to provide input and approval on the syllabus so that students don’t just learn to read and write and do math, but they learn free thinking, interpersonal skills, leadership skills, and actual work-related skills that technology will not be able to do. By partnering with schools, businesses could provide a much stronger influence on the quality of future employees in their local communities.
All right. There you have it. Five radical ideas. All of which can be argued against or for, but the point is, we have to start thinking in ways we have not thought before. It’s the only way we will find a solution and we don’t have time to waste.
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