Canadian Consulting Engineer

Firms need to be flexible with employees, expert says

A noted human resources expert says that employers need to reconsider their recruitment processes and employee rete...

January 17, 2007   Canadian Consulting Engineer

A noted human resources expert says that employers need to reconsider their recruitment processes and employee retention strategies.
In a recent article in the Globe and Mail, Knightsbridge Human Capital Management’s president and chief executive officer David Shaw told the newspaper that employers need to change their approach towards their workers if they want to remain competitive and retain talent.
And in an interview with Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine, Shaw noted that each demographic wants to be treated differently. “The implications for the managers, the leaders and the CEOs are they are going to have to be very adaptive in their approach,” he said.
With the retiring baby boomers on their way out and a new generation of employees on their way in, organizations that are unable to adjust and adapt may suffer from labour shortages.
Shaw notes that soon-to-be retirees and talented new hires might stick with the organization if they are allowed to work on their own terms. He suggests baby boomers might delay retirement if they can cut down their hours or telecommute.
The threat of a dramatic shift in office demographics is particularly important in knowledge industries like engineering. A study released in November by the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers found that enrolment in undergraduate engineering programs showed growth, but the impending retirement of trained professionals is still a concern.
Shaw says knowledge workers also have a greater ability to migrate to better opportunities.
“The knowledge worker becomes much more powerful because they can take their skills with them,” said Shaw.
As workplaces become more flexible and “community-oriented,” hierarchal work environments may be on the way out.
Shaw says managers and employers now have a dual responsibility to make sure their workplaces are productive and to create a more open working environment. Management will have to ensure that each individual is being treated the way they want to be treated.
“People want to know that they have a line of sight to the executive,” he said. “They want to know that the work they are doing is a adding value, and that they are being appreciated for their efforts.”
But attempts to retain a strong workforce should not undermine or compromise a company’s vision.
“If you take a look at leadership today, people want to work for organizations that are very clear as to their vision,” said Shaw.


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