The Jobs Churn Rate

Americans are quitting their jobs like crazy.

The latest monthly “Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey” (JOLTS) showed that in December, the total number of quits was 3.1 million, the highest level in a decade, while the quits rate was 2.1%, the highest since April 2008. The rate takes the number of quits divided by the number of employees who worked or were paid for work.

If people are quitting their jobs, it may suggest that they are confident in the labor market and are receiving better-paying opportunities elsewhere. However, it may suggest a higher level of mismatch between opportunity and ability.

The report also showed that there were 5.6 million job openings during December, the second-highest ever, and more than the expectation for 5.41 million. The hires rate was 3.7%, and the layoffs and discharges rate was 1.1%.

The Amateur Sports Family Advisor

At Placement Loop, we are intrigued by the growing demand in other amateur sports for trusted advisors. In ice hockey, they are commonly referred to as “family advisors” and they build relationships with coaches and players to help them get what they want. The type of advisor/customer relationship we support requires an understanding of customer intent, but in context that is relevant to surrounding conditions, limitations, and values. As we see it, trusted advisors don’t rely strictly on customer intents, rather, they proactively suggest actions that hadn’t occurred to their customers,  producing a more valuable result for them.

Coaches and players only have 24 hours in the day and one of their growing needs is to increase their ROI—return on investment. If coaches and players had a trusted advisor who knew their objectives and could help them sift through options available to them, they would get far more value per unit of investment (e.g. time, travel, and other expenses). With the advent of big data, sophisticated analytics, social software, and cloud computing (just to name a few of the enabling technologies) the “trusted advisor” value proposition is expanding into all levels of amateur sports to help place ability at best-fit.

In the future, the real winners in amateur sports will be those who are working with family advisors whose focus is on improving the player pursuit, not the outcome. The outcome is sufficiently unpredictable and therefore can not be foreseen accurately enough to make the outcome the focus. However, trusted advisors traveling down the path of helping others improve their pursuits, are truly going to earn trust and the deep collaboration that is necessary to help customers eventually end up with successful outcomes.

So, how is trust and collaboration built and preserved over time?

Trust comes in part from the realization that some advisors know coaches and players as an individual very broadly and deeply, not just as an acquaintance with an intent. That is the easy part, given the new technologies that are increasingly powerful and cost effective in capturing, compiling, and analyzing large amounts of data related to what coaches and players are looking for.

The real challenge is creating a collaboration experience that assures information and data is being used to serve the player’s best interest. The good news is that new technology is significantly reducing the cost of delivering advice-in-context and curating it. The result is that services are likely to be satisfaction-based and increasingly affordable to a growing segment of amateur sports participants that is below the line of “elite”. And that is good for all!

Do you have any experiences with athletic family advisors to share?

Efficient vs. Effective Distribution of Advice

The recruiting and placement of ability must be improved for effectiveness, not only optimized for efficiency. By solely focusing on optimization past solutions are merely failing faster and faster to recruit and place ability at best-fit. Past results are horrible evidenced by the percentage (72% according to Gallup) of workers who are not engaged at work. Currently, in my opinion, there is not any leadership to improve recruiting and placement effectiveness in the long-tail of markets. So, we are going to be that leader.

A 2011 Harris Interactive poll commissioned by the National Career Development Association (NCDA) provides feedback that is very clear regarding those who provide career advice: career practitioners are a vital resource for the livelihood of workforces and are underutilized relative to their potential need and value. In the poll, 24% of adults report that they have visited a career practitioner and 86% of them found it to be helpful. However, there are not enough career practitioners, in the traditional sense, to cover the masses, and there never will be, in the traditional sense.

Instead, Placement Loop embraces the role of domain expert to deliver recruiting and placement advice that is “good enough” to serve the masses. Indeed we are architecting our technology to support a layer of domain expert networks that will serve the market. To that end, our placement ecosystem design is supportive and accepting of the shift away from control and coordination at the center towards collaboration and discovery at the edge. Our design is about participants over platforms and individuals over institutions.

In addition, Placement Loop views human capital like financial services companies view financial capital, that is, from a traditional brokerage and distribution perspective. We use proven advisory models that effectively distribute financial product to design solutions for the distribution of ability, as if it were product. Not only does this provide the insight to recruit and place permanent workers at best-fit but it also addresses the growing market of independent workers.

The solutions are simple although quite complex to execute. The good news is that technology and methodology have advanced and network effects are more understood to increase the confidence to deliver utility, that is, effectiveness.

Placement Loop intends to motivate the delivery of recruiting and placement advice from domain experts who are already embedded in talent-based communities. We intend to provide a platform for all recruiting and placement participants in those communities to save time in their quest to make better decisions quicker. Sound familiar? That’s the foundation of how the financial services industry works.

Placement Loop is designing a solution for domain experts to become network entrepreneurs in the industry or sector that they are passionate about.

How profitable will it be in the future to be a network entrepreneur in this space? Sign up at our website to learn more when we open up your sector or “loop”.

Disrupting Human Capital Development and Placement (HCDP)

If you need any evidence that the world needs to rethink human capital development and placement (HCDP), look no further than the typical society in a free enterprise economic system.

Within these societies you tend to find three competing business models in the HCDP space, each with its own profit model. There’s the:

  • service-based “solution shops” meant to deliver learning quality via trained instructors (e.g. higher education)
  • outcome-based businesses meant to deliver employment quality via process (e.g. career services, job boards, agency)
  • member-based facilitated networks meant to deliver life quality via values (e.g. community involvement and interaction)

Developing and placing ability at best-fit is not complicated. We have proven methodologies that are effective. However, developing and placing ability at best fit at best-price at scale is impossible today.

HCDP problems can be boiled down to two key issues. Innovation has been sustaining as opposed to disruptive while business model designs remain largely centralized. For example, higher education offers the value of solving any learning problem for any student but the overhead of that complexity leads to tremendous costs.

The simple fact is that when viewed within the job-to-be-done framework human resources technology is 10 years behind health care technology which is 10 years behind investment technology.

Thankfully, the disruption in healthcare is already happening. For example, Iora Health pairs patients with health coaches who facilitate a care plan based around life goals, not just calling the doctor when they’re in pain. After all, once that happens, it’s typically too late for low-cost preventive care. To that end, Iora assigns its patients a “Worry Score.” The killer app is dedicated personal assistance. The killer API is the human API.

Coordinated collaboration among all stakeholders is a main tenet of reform. HR technology needs to catch up. We need equal parts interoperability, privacy, usability and human capital data infrastructure. Then and only then will we be able to integrate empirical development and intuitive placement to arrive at a satisfactory personalized life design.

We need a closed, interdependent, decentralized and integrated system, one in which different business models use a common platform that allows product and service suppliers to focus on doing a particular job very well for customers. Along the way, distributed facilitators (instructors and referrers) can be empowered to turn what is now expensive development and placement encounters into affordable ones. Again, a common platform is the mechanism by which we can meet the challenges.

It’s no surprise, then, that HCDP needs disruptive innovation to arrive at best-fit. What remains to be seen, though, is how soon that innovation will arrive and what kind of impact it will ultimately have.

Can we innovate soon and if we can what kind of impact do you want to see?

The Higher Ed – HR Paradox

According to Gallup’s Brandon Busteed, “barely one in 10 (11%) business leaders strongly agree that college graduates have the skills and competencies that their workplaces need”. However, he continues, “A whopping 96% of chief academic officers at higher education institutions say their institution is ‘very or somewhat’ effective at preparing students for the world of work”. Clearly, there’s a disconnect.

Furthermore, according to Gallup’s findings the vast majority of Americans think that the purpose of going to college is to get a good job (i.e. one that is best-fit).  Accepting that the collective will of the market is accurate and honest then it is so. The business of developing ability (the higher education imperative) is to enable people to be happy while they are being productive. The business of hiring ability (the human resource imperative) is to provide an acceptable return on investment.

Unfortunately, according to Gallup, “The vast majority of U.S. workers, 70%, are ‘not engaged’ or ‘actively disengaged’ at work, meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their workplace and are less likely to be productive. Actively disengaged employees alone cost the U.S. between $450 billion to $550 billion each year in lost productivity, and are more likely than engaged employees to steal from their companies, negatively influence their coworkers, miss workdays, and drive customers away”.

So, there’s a “chicken or egg” paradox which is this: Is learning quality being delivered to the population not valuable enough or are employer’s evaluation of ability developed disconnected with higher education’s learning quality? Whatever the answer it’s clear there’s a disconnect; a failure to communicate where both higher ed institutions and employers play the role of “boss man” at different times. 

Asking Better Questions

Modern society has been conditioned to measure things so that we can manage them. It seems to pervade everything in our lives. In turn, as we attempt to solve “big” problems the more important or valuable measurement becomes. As great a management principle as that is I do NOT think “What is my value?” is the right question to ask. The better question to ask is, “Why am I important?” because I believe that we are at the cusp of an improved understanding that we are here to help each other. Better questions improve that understanding.

I think that solution providers should consider designs that focus on us, as individuals, as benevolent rather than themselves as such. Jim Clifton writes in The Coming Jobs War, “The will of every person on earth is to have a good job”. Can new designs change how we develop and place ability that encourage a life well-lived

Winner Takes All

The development and placement of ability that serves us, as individuals, can be provided by higher education institutions or employers. Higher education is getting more efficient and effective at developing ability and employers are getting more efficient and effective at hiring ability. However, if they switched imperatives and higher education got very good at placing ability then they could subsidize development with placement revenue. On the flip side, if employers got very good at developing ability for themselves then they could be even more productive.

Okay, now you might be thinking that it’s unrealistic to expect higher education and employment leaders to create and scale solutions that push ability development and placement from 1.0 to 2.0 then towards 3.0. For each is too busy focused on eliminating their greatest pain point of today, that is viability. I agree. Neither will be the winner as a result.

The winner will most likely be a 3rd party solution that enables interactions that place ability at best-fit for us, as individuals.

Have you experienced a disconnect between higher education and employers in your own life?

Distributed Spare Capacity To Place Ability

Technology is allowing a degree of sharing so large that new mediums of communication are creating a cascade of new engagements. As a result, we are entering a new era where solutions to market problems can be optimized by tapping into spare capacity held by individuals distributed in the community. Several monikers and catch phrases are used to help describe this new era: Shared Economy, Web 2.0, Crowdsourcing, Cognitive Surplus, Collaborative Consumption, App Economy, or Gamification. Welcome to the rise of the platformed business model to solve market problems!

In human services, adopting a platformed business model to place ability at best-fit can reinforce the career development paradigms of vocational guidance, career education, and life design. However, leaders in this space must accept that a fourth closely aligned paradigm is needed to subsidize development. I call it placement liquidity. I believe that best-fit is achieved by utilizing these four paradigms:

  1. Placement liquidity that views talent seekers and candidates as principals (i.e. buyers and sellers) in a transaction who may be characterized by willingness and compromise and who may be helped by participating in efficient marketplaces to eliminate pain points quickly.
  2. Vocational guidance that views principals as actors who may be characterized by individual differences, styles, and scores on personality traits and who may be helped by matching for resemblance to identify occupational fit.
  3. Career education that views principals as agents who may be characterized by individual development and readiness to make decisions appropriate to stages and who may be helped by implementing new attitudes, beliefs, and competencies to foster individual development.
  4. Life design that views principals as authors who may be characterized by autobiographical stories and who may be helped by reflecting on themes to construct a satisfying and productive life.

Depending on talent seeker and candidate constraints however, assistance may apply interventions that reflect any one of the different paradigms.

Most importantly, solution providers (professionals and academics included) must be aware that the market will not benefit from any solution unless it is built on a viable and sustainable business model to deliver the value proposition. As such, we shouldn’t forget the adage: “Businesses don’t fail, business models fail”.

What do you think needs to happen to see the improvements we are looking for?

The Enterprise and Placement Improvements

My previous posts titled Evaluating Placement Information (Parts 1 – 3) prompted a request for me to read an article by Don Fornes, CEO of Software Advice which sponsors The New Talent Times blog. I was asked by Software Advice to opine on the article.

The article, titled “The Psychological Profiles of the Dream Team”, was published on BusinessInsider and refers to a commissioned project by Mr. Fornes to analyze the high-performers at his company, to see what drives and motivates them. The research concluded with four distinct personality profiles which describes what makes their top players tick, the management style they respond best to, and how to identify and hire more people like them.

The following is my opinion about the problem the article addresses but in a more expansive view.

First, let’s define the problem. The problem is that an increasing number of people in the world are miserable, hopeless, suffering, and unhappy because they don’t have a good job—one that is a best-fit. The United States is no exception and, in fact, may be the poster child for workplace unhappiness.

Second, in almost all the content relating to ability placement there always seems to be an embedded assumption that we need to rely on the enterprise to make improvements. What if that assumption is wrong? What if the future of work is more about coordinating distributed work activity versus aggregated? Then, as solution providers, I think we need to design for the individual as a work network node, rather than designing for the enterprise as the work center, to realize the improvements we are looking for.

Third, we can look at the financial services industry for an analog to better understand how psychological profiles are used to help place capital at best-fit. After all ability is human capital. My experience tells me that psychological profiling of investors to facilitate the placement of financial capital at best-fit is more art than science. This is because the ongoing decision-making environment is extremely dynamic with very many variables. More specifically, in this space, best-fit knowledge may depend on tacit information held by individuals, distributed in a community network. If you accept this as a constraint and embrace it as such then you’ll be able to see the futility of trying to optimize the art of placing capital at best-fit.

So, in my opinion, psychological profiles can not be relied upon with a high degree of confidence to complete the job-to-be-done successfully. This is not to say that they are not an improvement but rather should be viewed as a sustaining innovation. It is my belief that to make the improvements we are looking for we need disruptive innovation.