February 3, 2013

Labour Market 2 x 4 Education

Doug Lawrence

Aboriginal Work Force





Sometimes they say we need to be hit upside the head with a 2 x 4 before things begin to make sense. Sometimes not even with that gentle advice and guidance do we take the necessary steps to deal with challenges that are before us. Sometimes it is easier to talk a lot about them and do very little. I think we are there again!

I was talking the other day with my colleague who is involved in a trade and we were discussing how their industry is faced with the issue of who is going to take over from them when they decide to retire. There is a large population base of people in their industry that could retire tomorrow but are staying on for whatever the reason. There is little if any action at recruiting new talent. Add to that equation that most of the new talent will likely be thrown in the deep end of pool and told to swim on their own. We just love to set people up for failure. We agreed that there was definitely a place for mentoring in this industry but we are more inclined to talk about it rather than do anything about it. Talking is good – but you eventually need to move to doing something about it.

There has been some interesting dialogue the last few days around the whole Labor Market scene and the Aboriginal Work Force. We seem to be doing lots of talking again around this whole topic and yet we are not doing much to address the situation.

Let me give you my perspective on the situation. We are faced with labor challenges – aging work force, talent shortage, lack of succession planning and succession development, lack of leadership talent, a mobile generation and disengaged employees. All of these opportunities or challenges are supported by considerable research. We need to do whatever we can to create work environments that attract and retain workers. We can do that through a mentoring culture. That requires commitment at the highest level in the organization – I don't see that happening as of yet. If we can create that mentoring culture we create a learning and development environment where everyone mentors everyone. Whether you tap in to a talent pool that comes from outside the country or you leverage the talent pool that we already have in the country having them immersed in an organization with a mentoring culture is the best approach all around.

I was asked the other day do we need more workers or more productive workers. All of this came around the same time as the Labor Market reports were released and covered in the media. No matter how you want to slice this productive workers come from a learning and development environment which is created through a mentoring culture and having trained mentors to help people grow personally and professionally. It has been said that 80% of the work done in an organization is done by 20% of the employees. I firmly believe that we can change that with the right environment no matter where the talent pool comes from. It is disappointing though that we are not tapping in to the talent pool that we have without shopping elsewhere. Like everything else it requires work and we appear to want to always take the easy route – and that may be just to talk about it.

One last comment on "do we need more workers or more productive workers" I have to commend my colleague for making that observation as he has identified a key question that we need to do something about. We are done talking about it. Research has shown that about 60% of the workforce is at varying stages of disengagement. Research has shown that this costs US organizations as much as $400B a year in lost productivity. So for argument, let's say that we were about to reduce that by 25% - that would mean that we have increased productivity by $100B. If you create that learning and development environment which is an outcome of mentoring and a mentoring culture then you are on the path to realizing increased productivity and profitability in your organization. If you are in need of work efficiency tips to help your employees be more productive, you can always look to sites like Snack Nation and see their suggestions.

Let's put the 2 x 4 away and begin to take steps to address these challenges/opportunities. Let's embrace the "power of mentoring" and create that learning and development environment. After all, "Can you afford not to?"


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