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Talent Management Study


The 2009 Talent Management Study has gathered information about employer response to two significant changes affecting the 21st century workplace:

  • Shifts in the age composition of the workforce (especially age, but also gender, immigration, and talent availabilities).
  • Changes in the economic climate (including long term transitions to a “new economy” and recent changes stemming from the global economic downturn of 2008-2009.

The Talent Management Study has replicated the Center’s 2006 National Study of Business Strategy and Workforce Development, making it possible for us to compare changes over time.

publications

key research questions

  • Between 2006 and 2009, have there been changes in organizations’ awareness and assessment of the 21st century multi-generational workforce? Does the extent of change vary by factors such as industry sector and employer size.
  • Between 2006 and 2009, have there been changes in the action steps that organizations have taken, such as the adoption of flexible work arrangements, in response to shifts in the age composition of the workforce? Does the extent of change vary by factors such as industry sector enterprise?
  • What factors external to the organization (including shifts in the labor market, past/anticipated changes in the economy relevant to the industry sector, normative response/interest of industry associations in changing age demographics of the workforce, public policies, recognition and awards, etc.) explain variation in workplace flexibility and adaptive responses evident at U.S. workplaces?
  • What factors internal to the organization (such as demographic composition, salient business strategies, talent management challenges, workplace culture, nature of the work performed the employees) predict variation in workplace flexibility and adaptive responses evident at U.S. workplaces?
  • To what extent is the utilization of flexible work options connected to employees’ age and/or life stage?
  • What are the relationships between indicators of quality of employment at the workplace, including the extent of workplace flexibility, and organizational outcomes?

key findings

INDUSTRIES OVERALL

  • Four of every 10 employers (40%) surveyed anticipate the aging of the workforce will have a “negative/very negative” impact on their business over the next three years.
  • Two-thirds (68%) of employers surveyed reported not having analyzed the demographics of their workforce (“not at all” or only “to a limited extent”).
  • 77% stated that they have not analyzed the projected retirement rates oftheir employees (“not at all” or “to a limited extent”).
  • Approximately one-third of employers surveyed reported not having enough programs for the recruitment (30%) and training (35%) of older workers.
  • Two-thirds (63%) of employers felt their organizations had just about the right number of policies and programs to enhance the engagement of older workers.
  • Only one-third of employers (31%) felt they had established options for employees to work in a flexible manner “to a moderate/great extent.”

MANUFACTURING SECTOR

  • The percentage of workers in the manufacturing sector aged 55-64 increased significantly from 2000-2007, as did the proportion of workers over age 65. In response to our study, manufacturers employing older workers (workers aged 40-65) were more likely to report that the aging of the workforce will negatively affect their operations compared to other sectors.
  • Top issues related to talent loss include: Recruiting competent job applicants (45.1%), the low skill levels of new employees (30.3%), and knowledge transfer from experienced to less experienced employees (28.8%). The financial risk of losing employees is considerably higher for manufacturers, as the median cost of replacing employees in the manufacturing sector is $5000 per employee compared to $3000 per employees in other sectors.
  • In comparison to employers in other sectors, manufacturers offer fewer flexible work options to most or all of their employees. However, a larger percentage of small manufacturers have established options to work in a flexible manner (27%) compared to medium (8.5%) and large manufacturers (14%).

HEALTH CARE & SOCIAL ASSISTANCE SECTOR

  • Overall, health care employers are experiencing the same types of skill shortages seen in other sectors of the economy, but in some cases they are experiencing these shortages more intensely. The top five skills reportedly in short supply in the healthcare sector include: Management skills (42.4%), sales/marketing skills (34.8%), legal skills (33.0%), operations skills (29.0%), and technical computer skills (27.6%). Additionally, health care organizations report a greater shortage of customer relations skills (26.0%) compared to organizations in other sectors (17.4%). In more basic skill needs, such as in literacy, writing, and math, nearly one in five employers (17%) in the health care sector reported skill shortages.
  • Employers in the health care sector reported significantly more talent management concerns than organizations in other sectors of the economy. Top issues related to talent loss include: Being able to offer competitive pay and benefits (40.7%), absenteeism (37.4%), morale (31.7%), and employee adjustment to new technologies (26.0%).
  • Health care enterprises stand apart from the other sectors, however, as they tend to engage in significantly less assessment of their demographic makeup.A lower percentage of health care organizations have assessed (to a moderate/great extent)
           -  the age of their workforces (29%),
           -  the skills they anticipate needing (42%), or
           -  the competency sets of current employees (48%),
    compared to employers in other industries (43%, 54% and 61%, respectively). This is interesting because it suggests that many health care organizations, which are among those enterprises most threatened by the aging of the workforce, have limited knowledge of factors that might exacerbate their levels of talent availability risks.
  • In comparison to employers in other sectors, health care organizations offer more flexible work options to most or all of their employees. Health care organizations are also more apt to embrace a culture of flexibility compared to organizations in other industries. This tendency is especially strong in smaller health care organizations compared to medium or large health care organizations.

RETAIL SECTOR

  • The percentage of workers in the retail sector aged 55-64 increased significantly from 2000-2007, while the proportion of workers over age 65 remained fairly stable. However, a lower percentage of retail organizations have assessed the demographic makeup of their workforces (18.4%) or assessed projected retirement rates (14.5%) to a moderate/great extent compared to employers in other industries (33.3% and 24.7%, respectively).
  • Men and women are nearly equally represented in the retail trade sector, but they are not equally represented in all types of jobs within the sector.
  • Within the retail trade sector, younger and middle-aged employees put significantly more importance on having a high paying job compared with older employees. Also, women in the retail trade sector are more likely to value a job that has flexible hours compared to men. Women in the retail trade sector also want to have a job that contributes to society.
  • Retail trade employers appear to be less invested in developing talent than employers in other sectors, as fewer than one in four retail trade workers are engaged in decision-making task forces (22%). Only one in three employees in the retail trade sector have received formal training from their employers (36%), and slightly greater than one in four workers (27%) are involved in self- managed teams. These rates are considerably lower in comparison to the talent management practices in other sectors.
  • Although they tend to consider talent retention strategies as being important, retailers are less likely to report having too few policies and programs in the areas of retention, career development, and engagement for workers of all ages compared to organizations in other sectors.

ACCOMMODATION & FOOD SERVICES SECTOR

  • This sector is especially reliant on female workers, with women accounting for 55% of the total workforce in 2007. This sector is also heavily reliant on younger workers, and only 8% of its workforce in 2007 was age 55 or older.
  • A worker’s job and family life commonly compete against one another in the accommodation and food services sector. More than one in two employees (53%) in the accommodation and food services sector come home from work too tired to take care of their house chores at least several times a month. One in five employees (20%) in the accommodation and food services sector report that it is difficult to fulfill family responsibilities because of their job at least several times a month.
  • Workers in the accommodation and food services commonly receive little formal training that facilitates the development of skills and are often excluded from decision-making activities. Only slightly more than one in four accommodation and food services workers are engaged in decision-making task forces (27%) or are involved in self-managed teams (28%). Fewer than one in three employees in the accommodation and food services sector have received formal training from their employers (29%). These rates are considerably lower in comparison to those in other sectors.
  • Accommodation and food services organizations report greater shortages of basic literacy in writing and math skills, human resource skills, finance skills, and administrative support skills compared to organizations in other sectors.
  • Employers in this sector experience greater problems with unwanted turnover, absenteeism, low skill levels of new employees, employees’ performance, and recruiting competent job applicants.

contact

For more information on Talent Management Study, or to schedule a conversation with any of the Center's team, please contact:

617-552-9195 | agework@bc.edu    

the talent management study team

primary investigators

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Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, PhD
Director
Sloan Center on Aging & Work, Boston College 
Associate Professor
Graduate School of Social Work & Carroll School of Management, Boston College
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Stephen Sweet, PhD
Associate Professor of Sociology
Ithaca College
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research team

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Elyssa Besen, PhD
Research Scientist
Center for Disability Research, Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety
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  Shoghik Hovannisyan
Doctoral Candidate
Department of Economics, Boston College
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Farooq Pasha, MA
Doctoral Candidate
Department of Economics, Boston College
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