So it is Labor Day weekend. Labor Day became an official US holiday in 1894 after years of being a holiday in many states. It is always the first Monday in September in the United States. It was set up as a day of rest and parties for American workers and their families. It has become the symbolic end of summer. A time for in the United States for fun with friends and family, BBQ’s, fireworks, water sports, art fairs, parades, political speeches, department store sales, etc. For US men in particular it is a time of Fantasy Football Drafts, NCAA, NFL football, etc. In the fashion world it is the last day of the year you can wear white. So on this Labor Day weekend I can’t help but wonder if American companies have embraced the holiday when it comes to employees and their corporate strategy. We have all heard many companies use the phrase “employees are our most important asset.” Considering the cost of hiring an employee you would expect employees to be very relevant to a company’s corporate strategy. Without employees companies can’t function right?
So it seems reasonable that a company’s most important strategy is to ensure that the hiring process is successful. Let’s look at how companies bring in new employees. This is particularly relevant in this time of global economic instability where we a high unemployment rate in many countries so you therefore have a lot of applicants for jobs. Recently the staffing consulting industry consulting firm CarreerXRoads created a fictional job seeker and applied to every single fortune 500 company and drew some very interesting conclusions:
- 13 percent of companies don’t let job seekers apply directly from a job description, something CareerXRoads says should occur “quickly and easily every time.”
- Close to half of online applications take up to 20 minutes to complete; 8 percent take up to an hour.
- 6 percent of companies ask for a Social Security number, even though it has “no bearing on someone’s qualifications for a position.”
- Fewer than three in 10 companies ask screening questions specific to the job being applied for.
Okay, so applying to a job takes time and potential applicants often never hear back from an employer once applying to a posted position. Yet employers say they can’t find the right candidates. How is this possible with so many out of work?
Peter Cappelli, a professor at the Wharton School of business and author of the book “Why Good People Can’t Find Jobs” argues that companies can’t find the right candidate for a few reasons. 1. They are trying to find the perfect candidate when a good candidate will do. 2. The heavy reliance on HR systems weeds 95% of qualified candidates when common sense can prevail. In Cappelli’s book he sites examples of companies looking for a basic engineer where there were 25,000 engineering candidates that applied and none were deemed qualified even the VP of the department wasn’t selected when he put his resume in after finding it odd that not one out of 25,000 was considered qualified. There are other examples too like the failure of an olive company to find a marketing manager with experience in marketing green olives as black olive experience wasn’t deemed a fit. So the search for a perfect candidate by employers doesn’t seem to be a perfect strategy on acquiring talent. What about those that do get hired and are employees?
Again, companies do not perform without employees. So are employees doing what they are supposed to be doing? Is managing this “most important asset” a strategic priority to most companies today? Per Watson Wyatt Worldwide only 10% of employees understand the strategy of their company. Only 40% of managers understand the strategy of their organization. That explains a lot when you consider that only 10% of companies successfully execute their corporate strategy per Harvard. So strategy planning needs to be more inclusive of employees. So are your employees aligned to your corporate strategy?
So yes, on this Labor Day weekend we Americans can acknowledge that we have come a long way from the days of the plights of workers illustrated in the book “The Jungle” but we have plenty of room for improvement when it comes to the recruitment and the direction of our talent that drives our businesses. The good news is that it is not rocket science. It just takes some common sense and communication. The results are strategy alignment and execution of the strategic plan. That is one reason I work for an organization that provides tools to organizations to help fix this problem. Contact us for more information on these simple online tools. Have a great long weekend and enjoy the well-deserved time with friends and family!