It’s no secret that the “new world of work” continues to evolve. Ever advancing technology, new job skills and a new generation of consumers have set the stage for change. Today, employees are more like business partners than subordinates – on call 24/7, part-time or contracted, redefining job functions for today’s business needs.
According to Deloitte, employee talent capability gaps remain wide, primarily due to the accelerating economy and workforce changes. In the direct selling industry, the talent pool is broadening as companies adapt to the technology changes, thus increasing the distributor and customer base. Generally speaking, this creates a wider chasm in capabilities than other industries, especially since direct sellers have historically had a narrower focus of business.
At a high-level, Deloitte found six key areas where companies in all industries struggle – and have struggled for a number of years:
Culture and Engagement
Subjective, ‘softer’ areas for companies have increased in importance as the power in recruiting has shifted to candidates. Deloitte found that in 2015 ‘culture and engagement’ was viewed as the most important challenge for companies – how they lead, manage develop and, especially, inspire employees.
Direct sellers historically have focused on distributor culture to attract, engage and retain distributors. However, extending that culture to the corporate side of the business is just as important to attract and retain employees. Turnover costs are incredibly high for employers, with estimates from 150% to 400% of a mid-level and executive salary, respectively. Translated into hard numbers, a second-level manager that leaves after 2-1/2 years via termination or resignation, can cost the company approximately $850,000.
Leadership and Learning
One of the most crucial areas for companies, that has emerged since the economic recovery, is the need (and demand) for leadership and training programs. The ‘employee investment’ that made global companies the ‘go to’ employer for younger employees in the past, have struggled to update and incorporate new learning technologies and invest in the way younger employees (specifically millennial employees), learn.
Direct selling companies can have a distinct advantage in this area. The past investment in employees typically included less formalized training – so creating relevant programs can be quicker than revamping entrenched training programs. Incorporate the entrepreneurial aspects of the business into a formalized training program, and companies can add a ‘silicon valley twist’ not typical of most industries.
In-house HR professionals are under pressure to find the right talent fit for their organizations. The current ‘shallow’ talent pool coupled with executives’ traditional hiring tactics can put an organization at a talent risk.
Similarly, the direct selling industry is under tremendous hiring pressures as their typical pool for talent is traditionally a subset of the broader market. Most companies look for industry experience; however, technology has broadened talent needs so industry experience is not necessarily needed, nor sought, for some functions.
As technology evolves, so has the imperative to simplify the work environment, practices and company processes. This imperative has taken hold across organizations – especially within the direct selling industry. Smart companies in every industry are updating their hiring practices to better reflect the employees they seek to attract. Once hired, HR departments are working on streamlining forms and making them accessible to employees, as well as updating the evaluation process.
One important point about the Deloitte survey is that there were no critical areas in regards to ‘human capital’ where companies improved in 2015 from 2014. Gaps in corporate readiness, as related to importance, only widened. This only highlights the need for direct selling companies to harness new technologies and embrace the ‘new world of work.’