Get ready for the real talent shortage

Talk to recruiting leaders at any company in the labor market looking to grow their organization’s team and you’re likely to hear about a major shortage of high-skill talent. The talent shortage has been written about at length (staffing and HR consulting firm the Manpower Group has in fact been publishing an annual survey on the topic for several years now  and the numbers look pretty grim for companies).

Well, if you thought it was a struggle to get talent today, it’s time to start investing in your people strategy now.

At a TEDx event this past fall organized by the Boston Consulting Group, senior partner Rainer Strack presented an analysis performed by the consultancy on changing labor dynamics as the baby boomers (whose birth rate topped out in 1964) hit age 65. Focused first on Germany, Strack shows how Germany the decreasing number of work-aged adults will hit an 8 million person gap if Germany wants to maintain it’s current level of growth. These 8 million missing workers represent roughly 20% of the current German labor market (click to see full-size graph):

german labor shortgage
Germany will have an 8 million worker shortage by 2030.


And Germany is not alone. None of the world’s top 15 largest economies (responsible for nearly 70% of global economic activity) will have future demographics shift in their favor (click to see full-size list).

labor shoratge 2030 by country
Labor shortage by country, 2020 vs. 2030

Given an overall labor shortage, the battle for highly skilled talent will be significantly higher stakes than even now. Organizations, even small and growing ones, need to start thinking now about their people strategy – how they are going to compete to attract and retain the largest source for their competitive advantage.

Developing an effective people strategy requires understanding the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that drive your people to come to work for you, from the first time they apply throughout their careers. These factors are embedded in the experience you provide your people – the unique and valuable experience you provide your people. Here are a few examples of the motivators that are embedded in your work experience:

Intrinsic: The organization’s mission or purpose; the challenge and sophistication of the work; the opportunity to make a difference for the organization or its clients; the ability to develop new skill sets

Extrinsic: Desirable compensation and benefits; Perks (social events, resources for personal projects, snacks, etc.); Formal training and development; Healthy work/life balance; a positive and unique culture

Companies like BCG understand how to provide these motivators as part of their experience (and as a result BCG is a top 5 rated employer by Glassdoor, above competitor McKinsey and Company, Facebook, Proctor and Gamble, and others) and they work with clients to assess, recommend and build stronger employee experiences. For startups and small businesses, my company WorkLifeValue provides assessment services to help growing companies figure out how to deliver a winning employee experience that secures them the talent they need to succeed, now and in the future.