Terrorized by the thought of turnover? Afraid of automation alienating all? Gobbled up by grisly generational gangs? If these workplace trends have you sleeping with the lights on and double checking the locks, it’s time to conquer your fears! (Magic wand not required.)
1. Turnover: The Metric That Haunts All HR Achievements
Whether poor performers are ousted or high performers leave, the pain of turnover is felt by all. Despite a plethora of success indicators in the hiring process (e.g., time to fill, positive candidate experience, consistency, fairness), turnover may undermine them all. Turnover is the grimace on an otherwise beautiful face.
Like all deeply troubled souls, turnover is complex – there is no single solution. The trick is to look behind the mask by learning as much as you can about turnover within your organization. This requires an analysis of turnover data to uncover root causes and drivers, brainstorming several courses of action, implementing what is both meaningful and feasible, and monitoring results. Support what works, sustaining the changes that truly make a difference. Understanding that there are multiple means by which you can (and should) attack your turnover problem will put you well on your way to answering the central HR question: how do we select, engage, and develop individuals so they stay?
2. Automation: Machines and Robots and Computers, Oh My!
As evidenced by box office sales for movies like The Terminator, Transformers, and The Matrix, we are spellbound by the dark side of technology. Who hasn’t considered the possibility that someday robots and other machines will take over the earth? Okay, so maybe that’s a little far-fetched. Nonetheless, there is a real fear that technology may put us all out of a job. To some extent, this is true – the rise of technology undoubtedly changes the way we work. The good news? It is not all ghastly; there are clear advantages to better technology and added automation.
For one, utilizing machines for certain jobs makes them safer. Consider industries such as logging and mining, which have some of the highest incident and fatality rates. When this work is done without putting people at risk, isn’t that a win? Secondly, automation often replaces mundane, routine tasks, or those duties which require pattern recognition. Outsourcing these responsibilities to machines leaves additional space in job design for problem solving, creativity, engineering, negotiation, and other higher-order skills. Ultimately, this can lead to more fulfilling careers and personal satisfaction.
Although there are a number of economic and societal implications to consider as machines quickly remake our occupational environment, we must not lose sight of the benefits. Instead of viewing automation as a doomsday scenario, it may be time to change our perspective – asking ourselves how we can work alongside machines, and as HR professionals, consider how we can support employees in learning new skills or trades in an ever-evolving work environment.
3. The Next Generation: Hideously Ugly, but Sensitive & Emotional
Like Victor Frankenstein, we are disgusted by our own monstrous creation! It seems each generation bemoans the next. As an HR professional, you likely hear a lot of hiring managers and tenured employees complaining about the new kids on the block. Without a doubt, there are generational differences. The views, values, and attitudes of each generation are shaped by domestic and global events, innovation, natural disasters, ideological revolutions, and other signs of the time. So in a sense, we “grow up” in different worlds. Is it all that surprising, then, that people from different generations face difficultly relating to each other?
Nevertheless, the hallmarks of each generation do not define every individual within it. Distinct differences exist which cannot be accounted for by one’s membership in a given generation. Individual consideration requires us to react differently to each employee. Instead of writing off new hires of a certain generation, we must take ownership for our part – for example, recognizing when our management style should be adjusted to meet the needs of an employee. Understanding your associates’ motivators, strengths, and weaknesses has long been the stamp of a successful leader. This understanding provides the firm foundation for supporting direct reports and helping them grow professionally. What’s more, diverse perspectives and values are one of the healthiest remedies for group think along with a driving force for innovation. We need fresh ideas, but also organizational wisdom, to truly thrive.
Turnover, automation, and generational differences aren’t so spooky after all when we take time to unravel the mystery. Now, on to the next feat – scarfing down all the Halloween candy you can eat!