A VIEW FROM THE STREET
OBSERVATIONS, REFLECTIONS AND LOOKING FORWARD INTO 2017
BY MIKE MILBY, PRESIDENT & CEO
FOUR TALENT MANAGEMENT TRENDS TO STAY ON TOP OF THIS YEAR
As President and CEO of the area’s largest full-service talent management firm, I have the privilege of working with many talented executives and leaders. These people have and will continue to make an impact on the identity of Northeast Ohio as it evolves from its industrial manufacturing past to a burgeoning midsize economy that also includes leading edge healthcare, technology, and services. Through my interactions and observations, I see a handful of talent management trends emerging that I think will have an impact in 2017 and beyond.
- Acceleration of Baby Boomer retirements. The oldest Boomers began thinking about retirement at the start of the Great Recession of 2007-2010. With retirement portfolios down by 30% or more, many of those individuals extended their careers and have just recently recouped their losses. Now they are retiring, along with the younger Boomers who were already scheduled to retire at this time. This compounding effect is having a pronounced impact on companies as they begin to lose larger than expected numbers of senior employees to retirement. Specifically, we are seeing the loss of senior leadership experience, thinner “benches” as more employees than usual are promoted, and the loss of “tribal knowledge”. These events are putting greater pressure on leadership development and succession planning efforts, as well as the challenges associated with attracting and assimilating senior level leaders from outside the company.
- Middle Market companies adapting to Millennials. Millennials became the largest generation in the American workforce in the spring of 2016. As they grow into professional and leadership roles, Millennials bring a decidedly different mindset to the workplace than their Boomer and Gen X counterparts. Even with the wealth of research being published about Millennials, a lot of middle market companies have been hesitant to adopt changes in their work environment and policies to become employers of choice. These companies, not immune to the impact of their top leadership retiring or stepping back considerably, are now more alert to the risk of falling behind their competitors in attracting and retaining Millennials. This past year, we experienced much greater interest from our clients in leadership development offerings as a means of not only improving their talent pipeline and succession planning efforts, but as a way to evolve their “employer brand” and compete for the interest of the top young talent in the area.
- Commitment to invest in employee development. For years, companies have talked about the importance of investing in training and developing their people. Unfortunately, the training and development budget was often one of the first line items to be cut when a company came under financial stress. Not so any more. We see more organizations walking the talk, in that they are not only increasing leadership development budgets, but continuing to invest in their people even when times are challenging. The accelerated departure of Boomers requires it; and the younger generations who remain in the workplace demand it. Much of this investment is concentrated in a few key areas: Leveraging emotional intelligence in leadership, understanding and sustaining corporate culture, managing across multiple generations in the workplace, and improving team performance. These are exciting times in training and development circles.
- Sustained commitment to efficient operations. Despite the economy’s rebound in general, we have seen organizations stay committed to “doing more with less”, a principle that allowed many of them to weather the recession. There could be several factors at play including post-recession jitters, commitment to efficient business practices, pressure from Boards/stockholders, and maximizing company value in preparation for sale/divestment. Regardless of the motives, efficiently run companies place great value on attracting, developing and retaining top talent.
I am confident that Ratliff & Taylor’s portfolio of services is aligned with the conditions in our market and the needs of our clients. As we push into 2017, we do so with optimism that this year will be filled with tremendous opportunities to help our clients achieve their business and people strategies. If you have any comments or questions about these observations, or you have a talent-related need, please feel free to reach out.
President & CEO
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