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October 2013

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Q&A: Talent Management Expert and Evangelist Pamela Stroko on the Current State of Employee Engagement

An expert in the field of talent management, Pamela Stroko has a track record of driving business performance through talent strategies in organizations such as ICI London, RR Donnelley & Sons, The Coca-Cola Company, and Gap Inc. In the following interview she explains the challenges of employee retention and engagement—and provides recommendations for midsize organizations that ensure talent development and retention.

Q. Is there currently an epidemic of employee disengagement?
A. I wouldn’t say epidemic. What we are seeing today has been a long-standing issue as disengagement has hovered between 70 and 73 percent for the last several years. A 2013 Gallup poll revealed that 70 percent of US workers were either not engaged or actively disengaged. And the costs are huge. We are talking about an estimated US$450 to US$550 billion in lost productivity every year—just in the US alone.

Q. Disengagement is a perennial problem. Why should companies be concerned now?
A. Research indicates that between 2014 and 2018, we are going to witness a huge talent exodus in the US, with about 37 million people—more than 23 percent of the workforce—shifting jobs. Meanwhile, companies are going to have fewer qualified people to choose from, especially as evolving roles in a revitalized manufacturing industry change the kinds of skills required. That will make attracting and retaining employees a top priority for growing organizations.

Q. What is driving this talent exodus?
A. Many factors are coming together to create this perfect storm. There's pent-up demand after the recession. A big wave of baby boomers are going to retire. And there is a shortage of people aged 40 to 55, who tend to fill valuable middle management roles. Meanwhile, hiring managers are observing that people under the age of 30—the Millennials—are switching jobs much more often than their older peers. Rather than seeking a long-term relationship with an employer, Millennials want to develop their portfolio of skills and capabilities and are willing to change jobs more often to do it.

Q. How can companies respond?
A. One thing employers can do is to start looking for the almost-ready. These are people who may not have all the skills required for a given position, but who have demonstrated three or four key skills—and have shown they can adapt, learn, and grow. Of course, organizations that take this approach will want to have tools at hand and a clear strategy to help with career development and planning.

Q. Where should a midsize organization start in terms of building engagement? What are the must-haves?
A. Midsize organizations have unique advantages. For instance, many can offer positions with a broader scope of work that allows employees to gain more responsibility faster. But midsize companies will also experience challenges as a result of departures and disengagement—and they’ll have to compete with larger firms during the coming talent exodus. I recommend that when the executives of a midsize organization start the selection process for human capital management and talent management software, Oracle should be the first vendor to contact. Only Oracle can offer solutions to

  • Expand influence by driving real business growth, empower people, and create a great employee experience with Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud.
  • Boost efficiency and improve service delivery by cutting through the red tape of workforce management with a mobile user-friendly platform that encourages accountability and compliance with HR for operations
  • Find, acquire, and retain the right talent to define the company by aligning corporate strategy and employee goals using Oracle Talent Management Cloud
  • Use cloud, social, and mobile tools to help deliver a great employee experience, as well as enable employees to gain valuable insights and help the company grow with HCM for technology leaders

Learn more about Oracle solutions for employee engagement.

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