By: Leslie Stevens-Huffman
Most engineering organizations view their people as their most valuable asset. That’s why highly effective engineering managers monitor workplace changes and adapt their strategies, policies and hiring practices toward the shifting demographics, preferences and work styles of engineering professionals.
We’ve scoured numerous articles, research reports and studies to come up with the most impactful trends for 2014. We’re also providing a brief overview of the benefits for action-oriented engineering managers.
Trend No. 1: “Upskilling” is hot
A few years ago, 40 percent of employees said they wanted meaningful work with clear purpose in meeting the organization’s objectives. Now, they’re looking for career advancement, training and self-improvement opportunities – which is called “upskilling” in human resources circles.
Although 70 percent of engineers hope to parlay their newly acquired hard and soft skills into promotions with their current employers, they also view “upskilling” as a way to deal with the harsh realities of today’s volatile economic environment.
Or, as Anthony Fasano, founder of the Institute for Engineering Career Development said, “Regardless of your situation it’s ultimately up to you to develop yourself. You have no idea what’s going to happen in your career on a day-to-day basis, or when you’re going to see new opportunities. You can’t put your career in anyone else’s hands but your own.”
Opportunity: Only 37 percent of engineers think employers are willing to provide adequate training according to a recent survey by Monster.com. Which means astute engineering managers have an unprecedented opportunity to boost morale, loyalty and their firm’s recruiting prowess by offering employees mentoring programs, e-learning, lunch-and-learns and stretch assignments.
Trend No. 2: Freelancing continues
Non-traditional employment has become the new normal for many workers, including engineers. A survey of the 200 largest companies found that temporary workers represented, on average, 22 percentage of their workforce, and that percentage is growing.
Opportunity: If you haven’t created a program to maximize your contract engineering workforce, now is the time. A survey by Workforce Management found that fewer than 30 percent of companies either have a plan to become a client of choice for contingent workers or are working on one. Among other things, the most successful programs foster collaboration and knowledge transfer within blended project teams. They also employ a host of best practices to facilitate the selection, onboarding and assimilation process.
Trend No. 3: The evolution of talent analytics
Big data isn’t just for refining business processes or forecasting consumer behaviors. It’s become indispensable in tracking employee’ performance and translating employee behavior into quantitative estimates of productivity, says Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of Business Psychology at University College London and a visiting professor at New York University.
Opportunity: Chamorro-Premuzic insists that data is the best way to channel and measure the collective efforts of people who have “heterogeneous occupational statuses.” While Josh Bersin, founder and principal at Bersin by Deloitte calls talent analytics the single biggest opportunity in business. “If we can apply science to improving the selection, management, and alignment of people, the returns can be tremendous.”
Trend No. 4: Flexibility rules
Which tactics will be most effective in attracting, retaining and rewarding the best employees over the next 10 years? Given the opportunity, 64 percent of Millennials (and 66 percent of non-Millennials) would like to occasionally work from home, and 66 percent of Millennials (and 64 percent of non-Millennials) would like the option to occasionally shift their work hours according to a study by PwC.
In fact, flexible work arrangements and a culture of trust, open communication and fairness is more important than total compensation according to a recent forecast from the Society for Human Resource Management.
Opportunity: Firms that offer flex time and telecommuting will have a distinct advantage in the war for engineering talent as harried workers try to balance work, family and personal obligations.
Trend No. 5: Continued shortage of engineering talent
And speaking of talent wars, no surprise here, but recruiting for engineers is going to be moderately difficult next year. Moreover, 68 percent of HR professionals cite the exiting Baby Boomers and the lack of STEM graduates as having a major impact on the U.S. workplace over the next five years.
Opportunity: Firms that take deliberate steps to nurture a positive work environment and a dynamic employment brand stand the best chance of succeeding. According to a survey by Corporate Responsibility magazine, 84 percent of workers would consider leaving their current jobs if offered another role with a company that had an excellent corporate reputation. And most people would require only a 1 percent to 10 percent salary increase to consider such a move.
Other information of potential interest
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