Standing outside at my daughter’s fifth grade “walk out” (a really cool tradition at her elementary school), I got to talking to another parent who is a local business leader. Inevitably, as all of my conversations with these folks tend to do, the talk centered on how tough it is to find talent. He happens to sit on an economic planning and development board, and in years past they would spend 80 percent of their time on growth initiatives and 20 percent on talent strategies. Recently, it has flipped on its head to 80 percent of the talk moving to talent. This, no doubt, coincides with what we are seeing in Omaha and beyond. Growth can be a challenge in times of super low unemployment, as so much energy goes into the talent acquisition rather than business expansion.
Omaha has hovered between a 2.8 and 2.9 percent unemployment rate for the last few years, which is well below the national average. My team is in the business of staffing the professional workforce, and our candidates are almost universally college degreed professionals. The rate dips even further when you factor that in. We surmise to somewhere in the mid one percent. The bright spot to note is that most organizations are still planning for immediate growth. Open positions in fields such as accounting, IT, and healthcare (my teams’ specialty areas) are plentiful. With so few qualified candidates to take them, however, the grind is very real to select candidates who continue to enable the growth they desire.
So what can we do? As with any true strategy, there are no immediate fixes. There are also too many to really talk about in any blog or talent strategy meeting. There is one that I think needs to be utilized better, which is openness around mixing generations on work teams.
I have spoken about “fit” in previous blogs and videos, and I will never back down from how important I feel “fit” is in building effective teams that enable growth. However, I see companies interpreting this in a way that has them hiring the same kind of people over and over again. All of a sudden “fit” comes at the sacrifice of diversity, and over time everyone looks and talks the same. It may be harmonious, but it is not productive. The two workforces that can really plug gaps quickly for us right now are new grads and baby boomers. Don’t be afraid to mix these Gen Zs and baby boomers together on teams to get the right productivity and diversity of thought.
Now, any qualified person will have to have the right skills and modalities to perform jobs. You simply cannot sacrifice that for any reason. We see new grads coming in with tremendous technical skill around software platforms and open-mindedness around the work they do. On the boomer side, we are seeing engagement on doing work that might be less desirable to many others on teams. We see providing different perspectives on problem-solving that gives organizations a broader approach to how they deliver. Those are the differences. Now, let’s consider the similarities.
Both Gen Z & baby boomers grew up in times of relative financial crisis and burgeoning new creativity and resourcefulness. Many HR and marketing scholars note that Gen Z & boomers may be the most similar generations that exist in the workplace right now. This mixture of common work ethic and diversity of skill is something that can really impact a team positively. They may also be the most available folks applying to your postings.
We always advise hiring tough, focusing on core value match to your organization, as well as technical skill adaptability. While doing this, also keep a blind eye on demographics to ensure talent diversity.
Nate joined Aureus Group in 2006 and has exclusively been serving Nebraska customers all across the state. In his role as Sales Manager, Nate leads an elite team of recruiters and account managers who source accounting and finance talent within all industries. This talent ranges from technical individual contributors to executive finance leadership.
Nate has earned the prestigious “President’s Club” award three times, which puts him in upper echelon status among not only his Aureus Group peers, but also in the staffing and recruitment industry. He attributes his success to a transparent style of communication and a sincere belief in pairing the best interests of his clients with that of his candidates on every occasion.
Prior to his time at Aureus Group, Nate carved out his skills in the banking, advertising, and retail industries. These growth experiences led Nate from Kansas City to Des Moines to Phoenix and then back to his original home in Nebraska. Nate holds a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from The University of Missouri at Kansas City and is a Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC) through the National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS).