Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A College Educated Workforce for 2016

In the United States, the student debt of the Millennial generation is at an unprecedented level and university dropout rates continue to rise. The demand for college educated, skilled workers is quickly outpacing the supply. 

To help reverse this trend, the Interchange Group is donating funds this holiday season to Scholarship America, a non-profit whose mission is to make postsecondary education success possible for all students. Scholarship America is the country's largest provider of private scholarships, awarding over $3.3 billion to more than 2 million students and spending 97% of its total budget on programs. 

My wish for 2016 is to help students complete their education beyond high school with manageable debt so that our communities will prosper and our workforces will strengthen. 

Happy New Year!

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The 10 Toughest Jobs To Fill In 2016 & What To Do About It

2015 was a challenging year for hiring managers. Regardless of industry and geography, companies struggled to find and keep top talent. Unfortunately, 2016 is predicted to be tougher. According to new data from Career Cast the 10 most difficult jobs to fill in 2016 represent a diversity of industries, levels and functions. 
  • Data scientists
  • Electrical engineers
  • General and operations managers
  • Home health aide workers
  • Information security analysts
  • Marketing managers
  • Medical services managers
  • Physical therapists
  • Registered nurses
  • Software engineers
Attracting and retaining talent will be the number one human capital challenge of 2016. It will force executives and HR leaders to reassess their needs and priorities and to work together to accomplish key talent objectives. To achieve your recruitment and retention goals for 2016 and beyond, follow these three strategies.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Planning for 2016

We are beginning the 4th quarter, a time when workloads increase and managers endeavor to complete projects due at the year’s end. Q4 is also a time of planning for the coming year, when upcoming strategic initiatives are vetted, confirmed and budgeted. Most HR and Talent Management executives, as a result, have more on their plate than is realistic to accomplish, and are reluctant to offload the work to their own direct reports, who are equally burdened with year-end deadlines.

Effective managers cope with this crunch time by developing a small cadre of trusted outside specialists to delegate overloads of work to in Q4 or at any other time. Over the years, these consultants learn the company and culture and are available on call to use their specialized expertise to complete initiatives, from start to finish, with limited guidance. Many are also trusted resources for designing, facilitating and documenting strategic planning efforts so that the executive’s time and bandwidth are freed to think and execute at the appropriate leadership level. 

My work prepares leaders and their workforces to think strategically about their resources and to excel under conditions and in environments that are often quite different from what they have known historically. It moves through the entire employee lifecycle, from attracting and onboarding new hires, to developing and retaining them, to ensuring that career paths and succession plans are in place for the roles that matter most to organizations. The results create cost savings and stabilize companies for growth and profitability.

In support of completing 2015 project initiatives or your 2016 planning efforts, please feel free to access my whitepapers, blog posts, and multi-media for useful thought leadership and insight.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Millennials’ “Don’t Ask, Do Tell” Vacation Policy

Managers of Millennials complain to me that their young employees will tell, not ask, their managers that they will be taking vacation or time off. Or the Millennial will opt to work remotely without clearing it with their boss. From the Manager’s perspective, this shows a brazen lack of respect for the manager and the workload of others.

The Millennial perspective is quite different. Millennials believe that the 9-5 construct of work is dead. They intuitively understand that the future of work requires a high degree of flexibility – from the employee and the employer. Their willingness and desire to work in such dynamic ways, however, is ahead of what most employers understand, or have the capacity and infrastructure to currently support. Millennials assume their bosses are on the same page about this flexibility, but that cannot be farther from the truth.

Most conflict between Millennial employees and their older managers stem from generational differences in upbringing, work history and present-day expectations of the job. For insight into the most common areas of conflict and for strategies on integrating Millennials into organizations for long-term success, download my latest whitepaper, The Top 3 Conflicts Between Millennials & Their Managers or feel free to contact me directly. 

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Millennials Don't Take Initiative - Or Do They?

"Millennials don't take initiative." This is the sentiment of most Generation X managers I meet, who complain that their younger employees wait around for work to be assigned to them and only perform the bare minimum required of their job.

When I share this perspective with Millennials, they are shocked. Millennials think that they do take initiative. Their professional ambition and desire to excel in their jobs requires it. 

So why is there such profound difference of opinion on this issue? Here is the answer:
  • Millennials equate taking initiative with asking questions and collaboratively involving one's boss
  • Generation Xers believe taking initiative means "figuring it out" on one's own, without having to rely on others 
These contrasting views make sense, given each generation's experience growing up and in the workplace. However, they are cause for costly and avoidable misunderstandings at work that lead to low productivity, retention and engagement.

For insight and strategies on to how to bridge the generational divide and integrate Millennials into organizations for long-term success, please feel free to visit my website or contact me directly.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Millennials Don't Scoop Ice Cream

The rate of teen employment has dropped significantly over the last two decades. While the majority of teens in the 1970's and 80's worked during summer vacation, less than 1/3 of last summer's teens held a paying job. Instead, they:
  • Enrolled in high school or college courses
  • Did unpaid community service work as part of their graduation requirements
  • Took unpaid professional internships to bolster their college applications
While these activities make Millennials more attractive to colleges, there is a noticeable downside. Once Millennials enter the workforce, they lack the experience with service and administrative tasks that past generations gained from summer jobs. Many also enter the workforce not having experience with pay checks, requests for time off, and other requirements germane to employment. This unfamiliarity with the world of work has put Millennials at odds with older hiring managers, who express disbelief when their young employees do not accept "grunt work," take time off without approval, or ask for a raise because their net pay does not cover living expenses. The misunderstandings that ensue on both sides are time consuming and expensive.

To reconcile this problematic divide, employers must retool their hiring and onboarding practices to include more education on the fundamentals of work and to align expectations about the company, culture and roles. Without this knowledge, Millennials begin jobs on shaky ground that is difficult to correct down the road.

For more insight and strategies on how to integrate Millennials in to your organization for long-term success, register for my upcoming webcast, New Hire Onboarding - Practical Advice to Boost Performance & Retention, or contact me directly

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What Does a Female Leader Look Like?

When I speak on the topic of female leadership to cross generational audiences of women, dress is often a topic of conversation. It is a visual manifestation of how we view power. For example, Baby Boomer parameters for women's attire in the workplace favor the pant suit. In contrast, Millennial women prefer clothing that expresses their femininity and does not emulate male power norms.

Dress is just one of the many indicators that we are on the cusp of a new era of gender definitions and issues. Generational differences among women are redefining female leadership norms, and changing demographics are forcing new realities for working mothers. To successfully attract, develop and retain 21st century female leaders, organizations will need to develop targeted strategies for:
  • Engaging a multigenerational female workforce
  • Attracting and onboarding women for long-term retention
  • Building and promoting a strong pipeline of women leaders
  • Providing workplace flexibility that adds real value to working parents
  • Addressing financial security and equal pay for women
For insight into this these strategies, feel free to listen to my HCI podcast, Set a Course for Substantial & Authentic 21st Century Female Leadership, or my NPR interview, Some Companies Fight Pay Gap By Eliminating Salary Negotiations.

If you are coming to the SHRM conference, be sure to attend my MEGA SESSION, What Women Want: Recruiting, Developing and Keeping 21st Century Women Leaders, on June 30. 

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Monday, May 4, 2015

What Really Belongs in Your New Employee Orientation

Millennials rank cementing relationships and learning the corporate culture as the greatest challenge when transitioning into a new job, way ahead of learning their new job responsibilities. In fact, 28% of Millennials report quitting a job because they did not feel connected to the organization.

New employee orientations play a critical role in building organizational savvy and helping young employees connect to and navigate company culture. This can be done effectively, by off-lining administrative information from the orientation, to be accessed on an "as needed basis," and instead using the time to educate new hires on corporate history and culture and to help them establish bonds with their peers and others in the organization.

To learn how to design your new employee orientation to focus on acculturation, download my new whitepaper, From Orientation to Acculturation: What Really Belongs in Your New Employee Orientation and/or register for my May 13th webcast, New Hire Onboarding: Next Practices for Boosting Performance and Retention

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Death by Orientation

The biggest mistake a company can make when onboarding talented, energetic employees into an organization is to cram hours of mind-numbing employment information into its new employee orientation. And yet, this is exactly what many new hires, arriving enthusiastic and ready to work, must endure during their first week on the job with a new employer. 

New employee orientations are dumping grounds for compliance. Every department wants to shove as much information about employment, benefits, diversity, and safety as possible into the time allotted. The result is a jam-packed session of PowerPoints, handouts and talking heads. Instead of reaffirming an employee's decision to take the job, and welcoming him or her into the culture, the company unintentionally creates a finger wagging session that leaves new hires weary and dispirited. 

New employee orientations play a significant role in a new hire's developing opinions about you as an employer. To learn how to use the time strategically to educate new hires on what really matters, download my new whitepaper, From Orientation to Acculturation: What Really Belongs in Your New Employee Orientation and/or register for my May 13th webcast, New Hire Onboarding: Next Practices for Boosting Performance and Retention.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

New Specialization on the 21st Century Female Leader

I have developed a new specialization on the 21st Century Female Leader and the evolving landscape of women and work that I would like to share with you.

Stemming from my expertise on the changing workforce and the impact of demographic shifts on organizations, and my success in helping companies onboard, manage and plan for the succession of top talent, I have gained unique insight into what is required to attract, develop and retain women leaders. 

These strategies for engaging emerging and tenured female leaders have been captured in the following 10-minute podcast and whitepapers. Please feel free to download and share them.
In addition, I am pleased to present this expertise in the form of a webinar next week and live presentation in June.

Business Management Daily Webinar, March 27, 2015

SHRM Annual Conference Mega Session, June 30, 2015

I look forward to engaging with you on this critical topic. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me directly at

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Millennial Adoption Curve

The integration of the Millennial cohort into a Generation X/Baby Boomer-dominated world of business is like the introduction of a new technology. It will take at least 10 years along the adoption curve before this "new model" is ubiquitous and standard. As with other shifts in the marketplace, those that accelerate adoption will have the competitive advantage. These "early adopters" will embrace not only new leaner structures and methods of operation brought on by the recession, but also the new norms and tools for communicating and collaborating that are intrinsic to the Millennial generation's code of conduct.

Others -- companies and individuals -- may need a push along the curve. This will need to take the form of:
  • Hands on training to work and communicate across the generations
  • New communication practices and technologies that favor networks and that disable silos
  • Updated methods for managing and motivating employees
We are in the beginning years of the arc of a new era in which all signs point to a leaner, more collaborative workplace run by the Millennial generation. New ways of communication, collaboration and management will smooth the way to a cultural integration of this generation that will likely take 10 years to run its course. This will be a long process, and each individual and corporation will need to learn how to work together to bring out of the best in each other, for the good of the business and the employees. Where are you along the curve?

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Something’s Gotta Give in 2015

When asked about their greatest challenges and triumphs of 2014, my clients' responses are remarkably consistent: "My company is thriving financially, but I've never worked this hard or been so tired in my life."

The recession of 2009 led to massive restructuring and leaner modes of operation. Efficiencies that were meant as short-term, emergency measures took root and still persist 5 years later. From a financial standpoint, the efforts have paid off handsomely for companies. Corporations are profitable and shareholders are happy. But the actual people, from the executive level down to the line worker, are exhausted. Most are performing the jobs of 3-4 pre-recession positions and all are doing more with less. Everyone is stretched thin.

If you probe these professionals, who are predominantly Generations Xers and Baby Boomers, they will also tell you that they are performing the work that others should be doing. Their bench strength is weak, they say, and they are dealing with a new generation of "Millennial" employees that lacks the skills and initiative to pick up the slack. 

These experiences and feelings are legitimate. The Millennial generation is twice the size of Generation X and reached a critical mass in organizations in 2014, placing new demands on people and practices at work. Their values, technology and communication methods contrast greatly with those of older generations and have caused confusion, frustration and duplication of work. If you overlay this phenomenon with the after effects of the Great Recession, you have a perfect storm of corporate financial success and employee exhaustion.

Corporations will not be giving up their profit margins or increasing staffing levels anytime soon. The financial gains from this new normal are too lucrative to ignore or alter. Since the "New Economy" is here to stay, something else will need to give for our situations to become sustainable again. Corporate cultures will need to adapt to include emerging communication and collaboration practices, along with new methods for motivating employees. The fix, however, will not be quick.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy