Is Remote Working the Answer to the So-Called “Talent Crisis”?
Remote workforce solutions give companies access to previously inaccessible skilled talent.
Founders, Human Resource Directors and Department Heads have been reporting a supposed talent shortage across the US.
46% of American employers have difficulty filling jobs according to a ManpowerGroup survey of 42,300 employers from around the world. This is the highest the number has been in the U.S. since 2012 and surpasses global averages.
With overall unemployment still under 5%, it’s the much higher underemployment rates [12.6% for college graduates and 33.7% for high school graduates as compared to 9.6% and 26.8% respectively back in 2007 - EPI] that tell a different story. While there is no dearth of labour, there seems to be a lack of specific skillsets or more specifically, a lack of knowledge about how to find and reach skilled talent. This also isn’t limited to any one specific country or geography.
59% of Canadian executives are concerned about the availability of skilled labour their organizations will need over the next two years (Accenture).
This leads us to 2 key questions:
What are the hardest office positions to fill?
- Sales Reps
- IT Staff
- Accounting & Finance Staff
Why do employers say it’s hard to fill these particular positions?
- 16% Lack of experience
- 18% Lack of available applicants
- 23% Looking for more pay than is offered
- 16% Lack of soft skills or workplace competencies
Strategies to Combat the Shortage
With the supposed shortage, the demand for skilled workers intensifies and those who can successfully fill the gap will have a competitive edge. To this end companies explore a wide range of strategies from increased on-the-job training to increased pay to attract top talent:
- 48% Recruit outside the talent pool
- 44% Explore alternative sourcing strategies
- 19% Pay higher salary packages to recruits
- 17% Change existing work models
- 19% Provide additional perks/benefits to recruits
- 12% Outsource the work
One look at these tactics shows that apart from those that throw more money at the problem, the others all have one creative and flexible recruitment strategy in common: Remote Workforce Solutions. The main reasons companies opt for remote working are the following:
#1 Tech Transcends Borders - Technology adoption by businesses is currently booming with automation being integrated into almost every new business. Cloud software and mobile computing technologies along with cyber security systems have evolved beyond imagination. With VoIP telephony, video conferencing and other advancements, managing and coordinating international teams is easier than ever and gives employees access to firms’ enterprise systems 24/7. This makes it not only possible but prudent and even profitable to supplement your local workforce with an affordable and flexible team with specific skillsets that may not be available locally.
#2 Industry Need - Looking beyond local talent is now inevitable given the global economic evolution with shorter product cycles fueled by innovation and shifting buyer behaviour. The nature of business now requires an agility to be able to pivot, customize and scale at lightening speed. These changes bring about new ways of working and the kind of jobs and skills that are currently in demand are dramatically different from the pre Internet age. As labour markets the world transform there is a paradigm shift towards the direction of more technical and skills-based jobs.
Randstad Sourceright's 2017 Talent Trends Report found that nearly two-thirds of companies are likely to adopt a workforce composition model that uses more contingent workers over the next 12 months.
70% of workers and 68% of employers agreed with the prediction that over half of the U.S. workforce will be contingently employed by 2025.
#3 An Evolving Workforce with Different Demands - With boomers on their way out and millennials accounting for an increasingly sizeable chunk of the working population, there is a demand for more independence, flexibility and to take advantage of the mobile on-the-go systems that they are accustomed to and feel at ease with.
By 2025, Millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce. Today, by comparison, Millennials represent only about 34% of the workforce.
A noticeable difference is already evident in not just the way work is delivered but also work culture and what benefits, compensation structuring and norms hold value to younger generations of workers.
According to Randstad, The primary motivations for choosing remote work are 1) Lifestyle fit (68%). 2) More opportunity to gain skills (63%).
#4 Access to Untapped Markets - While one of the biggest advantages of remote workforce solutions is the sourcing of staff from previously inaccessible international talent pools, something overlooked is that it also allows the potential to grow and expand the business and sales in new markets. Remote hires, with their ability to communicate in the native language(s) of the region and unique insights into the cultural delicacies of doing business, facilitate easier access into new markets.
#5 Cost Effectiveness - Last but not least is the important aspect of economic advantage. The above benefits are no good unless these remote solutions also happen to be the financially feasible best option. A cost-benefit analysis will confirm the reduced admin and workspace related costs but that’s only the beginning. From contracting remote IT technicians in a different time zone to handle off-hour support, to hiring sales reps to work trade shows or reach new target audiences without the travel expense of sending your best local salesperson halfway across the globe, there are innumerable savings to your bottom line when you go the remote route.
The Caveat: Remote working may not be the solution for everyone and there are some valid concerns such as the coordination, commitment and accountability on the part of remote workers who are less supervised. Furthermore, relationship and team building abilities with existing internal teams are more difficult given the lack of in person interactions when distance and time zones are factored in.
The biggest concerns about hiring freelancers, respondents said, were their ability to develop relationships with existing teams and accountability. (SHRM)
Remote Workforce Solutions are not a Panacea but when Executed Effectively can Increase Productivity and Operational Efficiency
Technology has made market disruptions so commonplace that rapid and drastic change is the very nature of many industries today. However, tech is also what makes the global marketplace seem smaller than ever before and means remote hiring is not just a popular trend but a practical means to overcome modern hiring challenges. In an age where predicting staffing requirements and what skills will be in demand in advance gets increasingly complex, it is wise to invest in strategic workforce planning that factors in remote workers and teams with these critical skillsets at the ready.