Good News or Bad News: Earning Relevance as a Human Resource Developer

Gallup just released its State of the Global Workplace 2023 Report. Headlines from the report are: Employee Engagement in the United States is down 2% to 31% from 2021, Quiet Quitting (employees who are not engaged) is up 2% to 52% from 2021, and Loud Quitting (actively disengaged employees) is up 2% over the prior report. Seventy-one percent of Gallup survey respondents said this is a good time to find another job and 47% of U.S employees are either watching for or actively seeking a new job.

Whether these report findings are good news or not depends on if you are an employer or employee. For employers, alarm bells should be ringing loudly. The battle for talent has been raging for years. Anyone who entered the workforce in the past five years (sans a short period during the Pandemic) has only known disequilibrium between supply and demand for talent. Over the past thirteen years, demand for talent has grown faster than supply. Today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 9.9 million job openings in the United States today; at the same time, BLS reports 0.6 job seekers for every open position.

So what is an employer to do?

In business, competition for the highest value resources – human, physical, economic, and non-economic – is constant. On the human resource front, the latest Gallup report indicates that almost half of employees across all industries and demographics are ready to leave their current jobs seeking something better. To change this dynamic requires a strategic shift in the way employers think about human resources.

Consumer or Developer?

An outdated mindset says that businesses consume resources, including human resources. Hire someone, and if they don’t work out, we’ll just find a replacement. That perspective worked in an environment where talent supply exceeded demand; today, it is obsolete for many reasons, including excess demand.

A future-focused approach for employers begins with answering the strategic question: How can we differentiate our employee experience to gain and sustain competitive advantages in the marketplace? In part, the answer may be acting as a talent developer – an employee destination of choice for those seeking professional growth and development.

Many organizations overlook the opportunity to see themselves as human resource developers. However, today this strategy is a viable path to elevating employee engagement, minimizing turnover, and attracting valuable talent. To effectively differentiate a business, organizations must make conscious decisions about their human resource management philosophy.

Differentiation as a talent developer requires a well-thought-out strategy, implemented through engaged managers who understand the value of the human resources they steward. Soundbites saying “people matter here” or “people are our competitive advantage” are hollow unless they reflect the philosophy, strategy, and actions aligned with nurturing and development of highly valued human resources. Mindful talent management strategy becomes a differentiator through a commitment to adding value to human resources under the organization’s stewardship. Differentiation in this domain is essential to attract and retain the best available resources.

As an imperative described in my book Leading from Zero, the principle of differentiating an organization as a resource development exemplar applies to human, physical, economic, and non-economic resources available to the organization. Exemplary resource development differentiates an organization, enhances its ability to attract the best available resources and demonstrates a core principle of the Leading from Zero approach.

Originally published on LinkedIn, June 13, 2023

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