President of ManpowerGroup North America on the most crucial thing workers expect from their employer

Ladders recently spoke with Becky Frankiewicz, North American President of workforce solutions firm ManpowerGroup who previously held a variety of senior leadership roles at PepsiCo across its portfolio of brands including head of Quaker Foods North America. Read on as she discusses recruiting challenges, how businesses can secure the best talent, and which markets currently have the strongest hiring intent.

What are the biggest challenges, from a technical and/or business standpoint, that those in recruiting and talent acquisition face nowadays?

I meet regularly with business leaders from companies across sizes and industries and I hear a common challenge – companies are struggling to find and retain the skilled people they need to be competitive. We see this in our research too, 46% of U.S. employers say they can’t find talent to fill open jobs.

In many cases, there is a disconnect between the skills employers’ desire and the skills people have when applying. Organizations have open positions and can’t find skilled talent to meet demand. Workers tell us they’re struggling to keep their skills up to date and discouraged from applying to jobs because of the long list of very specific requirements.

The data tells us there is an unprecedented opportunity for jobs today in the U.S. Employers are hiring and millions of people can benefit. The best employers know that as technology continues to change jobs, people need more specific skills. That’s why we’ve seen a surge in commitments from Amazon, Walmart, AT&T, and others to upskilling people for in-demand jobs.

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Becky Frankiewicz
Becky Frankiewicz

How important of a role does technology, like data science, for example, play in the field of HR and recruiting and specifically in your work?

HR technology has shifted from focusing only on driving efficiencies and streamlining processes, to data-driven innovation which enables us to deliver a better candidate and employee experience. Employee and candidate experience is more important than ever in a tight labor market and data-driven insights help organizations curate this experience throughout an individuals’ career journey – from attracting people to matching them to the right role, managing and developing their careers and predicting performance.

We expect assessment to play an increasingly important role in helping people understand their strengths and companies understand their people.  With the right assessment, we can shift from hiring and developing people based on gut instinct and past experience to data-driven insights predicting future performance. This change can only be good for people and for employers.

All that said – HR is about human beings, and although we have access to more data than ever before, we have to remember that helping people achieve their potential is really at the heart of what we do.

What the key steps that businesses should take to secure top talent? What criteria should they focus on?

I would say challenge your criteria! Think about the skills (both soft and technical) you truly need versus desire for a role. Ask yourself, what’s more important, time in education or the ability to learn quickly and adapt?  Looking for the candidate that might not possess all of the skills yet can upskill quickly, will have a positive impact on your pool of available talent.

Then think about what workers want and the changes you might need to make to your work models to attract top talent. There’s no doubt pay attracts, yet work-life blend, benefits, great culture and opportunities to develop and learn are all important levers companies can pull to make their organizations a great place to work.

Remember too that people expect more transparency than ever before. You need to live up to your reputation. Glassdoor is the new Better Business Bureau and it’s just one click away.

What sectors and markets now have the strongest hiring intent, and why?

We’re seeing increased demand across all sectors, from data analysts to delivery drivers. Unsurprising, Professional & Technical Services (IT) continue to be top growth sectors in the U.S.

Demand changes fast in the digital age. In 2010, our smartphones called for the skills of mobile application engineers and online shopping sparked demand for virtual systems management skills. Today, we need workers with coding and cybersecurity skills as data protection has moved from box-ticking to business-critical. The bottom line for employees – focus on developing in-demand skills and nurturing your learnability, the desire and ability to continually learn, apply and adapt – to remain employable for the long-term.  The bottom line for employers – focus on attracting today’s talent and hiring with learnability for tomorrow’s jobs.

Where do you see the field of HR/recruiting/talent acquisition headed? Crystal ball view?

The impact of automation and technology creates opportunities for HR to be much more data-driven and create more personalized experiences for people. It’s important to remember that technology should enable a business strategy rather than the other way around and that investing in technology without ensuring people are up-skilled is a wasted investment.  For HR and talent acquisition, finding the right balance of people, skills, and technology is key. That also means we must become learning experts –helping people develop their skills so that technology can complement their capabilities and help them achieve more.

What has been the most satisfying moment of your career/proudest career achievement, and why?

I wanted a career. I also wanted to be a mom. It wasn’t an either-or option. There was a moment in my 25-plus year career when I realized I could be a great employee and a great mom. I reject the idea those are mutually exclusive and embrace the idea that they are mutually beneficial. I never hide my “mom role” and always strive to live out loud sharing the decisions I make daily to achieve both. I’ll change my work schedule for a dance recital and yes, I’ve missed a few recitals for work meetings. I decided to never hide my blended life, yet always to Say it. Live it. Own it. And light the path of those behind me.