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Cultivating Top Talent – American workers are our greatest asset

Maria Black, President, ADP TotalSource

Last week I had the pleasure of participating in a panel on “Cultivating Top Talent” for the SelectUSA Summit. This event — which took place in Washington, D.C. — hosted more than 2,000 global companies, economic development organizations from every corner of the United States, high-level government officials, and others working together to facilitate investment in the United States.

There were many things I found quite interesting about this experience, but none more impactful than President Barack Obama’s keynote address. It was a self-proclaimed “sales pitch” about why now more than ever America continues to be the place to invest for many reasons. The top reason I took away, likely since I too consider it to be our country’s greatest asset, is American workers. Here is a brief excerpt from his speech:

“If you could choose any place and time to invest your business’s precious resources, I believe you’d choose right here, right now. If you choose a place to expand your portfolio, to place your bets, to open up a plant, to start building the next great new business or service, you would select the USA -– because nowhere in the world and never in history has there been a better place to grow your business…

“You would choose right here, right now, because no other economy is so crucial for the global economy. No other country can add more innovation to your business or bring your innovative products to more markets. No country has as many top universities, and no country invests more in research and development than we do. In fact, America is responsible for one-quarter of the world’s R&D investments. No country can match our competitiveness in cutting-edge manufacturing. No country is home to more entrepreneurs or more supercomputing. No country has done more to build a culture of making and tinkering, and entrepreneurship and risk-taking, and of innovation and invention…

“But the truth is, it’s easy to make the case, and it’s one each of the economic development organizations represented here can make just as well, because behind it are the most talented and most innovative workers in the world: American workers.”

As president of ADP TotalSource, which serves more than 420,000 American worksite employees, I couldn’t agree more. American workers are the most talented and innovative workers in the world. And as the velocity in the war for talent continues to increase and the needs of today’s employees continue to shift, an employer’s focus on hiring, onboarding and engagement must also shift if they wish to cultivate top talent.

I believe business owners who want to succeed in a global labor market — with talent at such a premium and the lines between work and life completely blurred — will need to make the unspoken contract between employer and employee needs more holistic and well-rounded.

Here are a few tips to accomplish this:

  1. Focus on freedom: 95% of employees believe they will be able to work from anywhere in the world. And yet, when we ask HR leaders what percentage of their workers can work from anywhere today, it’s less than 20%. That’s a huge disconnect! Employers need to focus on ways to make employees’ ability to work more agile, be it through schedule flexibility, mobile apps, remote access via the cloud, etc.
  2. Help employees find meaning in their work: 89% of employees will choose to work on projects that are personally meaningful and help society. Are you doing anything to make your work more meaningful to employees? Millennials care about diversity, company ethics and opportunities to give back to their communities. These priorities are essentially creating an entirely new workplace model for employers, one in which a company’s moral compass is just as valuable as its bottom line. Employers who communicate frequently with their employees about their mission, vision and values will be very successful in engaging today’s socially conscious employees.
  3. Offer ways to grow and develop: Inc. magazine recently reported that more than 60 percent of employees expect career development from all employers. Growth and development comes in many forms including offering internal mentorship programs, attending professional development seminars, providing opportunities to collaborate across organizational boundaries, and offering continuing education.

At ADP TotalSource® we believe employers and employees benefit from a health, wealth, life and work framework. This can serve as a “nutritional guideline” to provide our worksite employees with tools for physical wellness, financial wellness, connectivity to the community, and empowerment to collaborate with colleagues. How does your organization engage its employees?

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  1. Excellent commentary Maria, I agree that the American workforce is the best in the world and that our entrepreneurial spirit is at the core of our willingness to take the risks to innovate and deliver the best products and services to the marketplace. Much like ADP TotalSource and the concept of a Professional Employer Organization to create the most effective employer model. That said it is up to all of us at TotalSource to challenge our clients and give them the resources and advice to assist them in meeting the new challenges of a changing workforce that demands more from their employer and in return will give them back more with their efforts and commitment.

  2. Maria, this is terrific. This is an area of increasing importance that needs to be addressed in the war for talent. Companies need to position themselves to go all-in or lose out!


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