Detroit — At the 2018 Plastics in Automotive conference, Christine Oster, director of global talent development for General Motors Co., asked attendees if they felt the pain of trying to find new talent.
More than two-thirds raised their hands.
"I think we're all in the midst of reinventing ourselves," Oster said. "We need bright, sharp people to help us do that. Ask yourselves this question: Are you really ready for this talent constraint that we have? And what can you be doing about it?"
Oster's presentation at the Jan. 16 conference revolved around attracting and retaining talent in the automotive market. But her talking points can be applied across many industries for both white-collar and blue-collar workers.
Oster, who has been with Detroit-based GM for 30 years, outlined six "readiness tools" for employers to consider in order to appeal to potential applicants: conduct continuous competitive intelligence; create an employment brand; know your company's story and tell it far and wide; communicate your employee value proposition to candidates; provide a clear line of sight to career possibilities and offer development opportunities; and develop a different kind of leader who "gets it."
According to data presented by Oster, there are three jobs available for every college graduate and eight jobs for every high school graduate. What's more, 25 percent of current workers plan to leave their job within the next year.
Because of the number of workers who will be seeking a new job in the next year, Oster said it is imperative that employers pay attention to job-search postings and websites such as Glassdoor, Monster and LinkedIn in order to remain competitive and stand out to attract top talent.
"When I went on [the hiring websites], there are 22,000 jobs available in the metro Detroit area," she said. "What surprised me was the number [of job postings] that listed attendance bonuses, 40 hours guaranteed [and even] hiring bonuses for dishwashers. I was thinking, 'Wow, if I'm trying to recruit this population, there's a lot of competition.' These sites are really valuable."
Oster said talent development and retention programs for new hires and current employees are just as important as recruitment strategies. These can include onboarding, mentoring, programs for women and minorities, and leadership training.
Surveys for employees are also critical, Oster said, to gauge the environment and satisfaction — or lack of — at your company.
"Everyone who works for you is a recruiter," she said. "If I'm not having a good experience at this company, who do I tell? Everybody. Our greatest resource for referrals are our employees who are satisfied."
It's also vital to have engaged management who understands the concerns of employees and who make an effort to improve the company.
"People don't leave bad companies," she said. "They leave bad bosses."
Oster closed with three points to understanding the millennials who will be filling the jobs of retired workers: They respect employers that put their employees first, not their company's profit; they seek career development opportunities, especially leadership development, and companies that provide them; and they want their managers to be coaches, not bosses.
"[Millennials] are important, and they feel like they're important. It's our job to make them feel that," she said.
Following her presentation, Oster answered some questions from the crowd, one of which asked the jobs most difficult for GM to fill and how they fill them. Oster said the answer to that question keeps changing, thanks in part to the "no-collar" worker: Previously traditional blue-collar production jobs are now blurring the lines because of the involvement of technology.
"Any time we're competing [for new talent], we're not competing with Ford or Chrysler," she said. "We're competing with Google, Microsoft and Amazon."