“The value of a business is a function of how well the financial capital and the intellectual capital are managed by the human capital. You’d better get the human capital part right” (Bookbinder 161).
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Human capital plays the most important part in the functioning of any business. No enterprise can function without employees performing interactions with customers, facilitating the production of services and goods, or formulating its business strategies. At the same time, high turnover rates are a serious threat to many modern industries. Nursing, Hospitality, and the IT industries, for example, exhibit the highest turnover rates in their respective segments.
The overall turnover rate in the private and public sectors is much higher than it used to be 30 years ago. The majority of the companies attempt to solve this issue using various recruiting practices, promising excellent working conditions, and substantial payments to retain their employees. This approach, however, indicates a lack of creativity, which prevents many companies from investigating other solutions. The purpose of this paper is to inspect the issue of worker shortage through the lens of creativity blocks and propose solutions based on the analysis.
Types of Creativity Blocks
In any company, there is an HR department responsible for the recruitment, retention, and motivation of the employees. That department is made of people, who are suspect of creativity blocks, which prevent them from using innovative and effective ways of solving the issue of employee shortage. Types of creativity blocks are as follows:
- Strategic blocks: Affect the approaches to resolving specific problems.
- Value blocks: Personal values affecting the range of ideas.
- Perceptual blocks: Physical unawareness of certain issues, which affect final judgments.
- Self-image blocks: Timidity, fear of taking the initiative, low self-confidence in decision-making (Proctor 23).
As it is possible to see, different blocks affect different areas of HRM.
The following sections will elaborate on the most typical issues connected to the worker shortage, and the approaches were taken to resolve them.
Strategic Blocks in Dealing With Turnover
One of the major strategic blunders related to the HR department, which is responsible for recruitment and retaining skilled professionals to replenish the workforce, is the self-limiting strategy of addressing the recruitment part only (Bookbinder 44). Typically, the HR department interacts with potential recruits, finding suitable candidates, but it stops being a factor right after the contract is signed.
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Then, all of the responsibility for keeping the employee occupied and satisfied falls upon the line managers. This approach lacks creativity, as it mirrors the antiquated ideas about HRM dating back to the first half of the 20th century. A modern approach to replenishing the workforce focuses not on recruitment alone, but on retaining, which is more effective in terms of time, money, and overall productivity.
Value Blocks and Employee Expectations
Many HR managers, when asked about their expectations towards employees, often project their own experiences as employees on others (Proctor 24). For example, older HR managers, who rose to their positions around 30-40 years ago, used to have different expectations and work ethics, incompatible with those of younger generations. Baby Boomers, for example, were raised in a corporate culture that did not require any additional incentives for workers to perform well and exhibit company loyalty, as the payment and promise of career growth were enough to do so. Modern workers do not have the same amount of compensation and require other strategies to become involved. Failure to understand the changing psychological trends is a value block, which prevents progressive HR strategies from emerging.
Perceptual blocks in trying to fix the issue with employee shortage often happen when the HR department is oblivious to the factors that are causing a turnover (Proctor 24). The reasons for such blocks to appear are numerous, ranging from the physical distance between the HR department and the line management to a lack of influence and contact between various departments in the organization (Bookbinder 45). As a result, HR is unaware of the problem and implements inaccurate strategies to change the situation for the better. A recommended approach, in this situation, is to establish a dialogue between the employees and the HR department, leading to increased awareness and improved human resource capital management.
This type of block is often found in young HR managers with poor practical experience, or in companies with a hero style of leadership, where the top managers have control over every decision made by their underlings (Bookbinder 91). In either of these situations, the HR managers may feel intimidated to propose a change from the existing course, which severely limits their capabilities of applying innovative HRM strategies to improve employee recruitment, retention, and compensation techniques. This type of creativity block can be fixed either by inspiring the employees with confidence or by erasing the source of their fear, whether internally or externally.
As is possible to see, the majority of the issues affecting the HR department, which in turn result in workforce shortages, can be interpreted through the lens of creativity blocks. They prevent modern and innovative strategies from surfacing and being implemented on a wide scale. There is a large body of academic literature dedicated to various methods of fighting turnover and workforce shortage. Nevertheless, the roots of this crisis could be in the lack of creativity on the part of the HR department.
Bookbinder, Dave. The New ROI: Return on Individuals. Limelight Publishing, 2017.
Proctor, Tony. Creative Problem Solving for Managers: Developing Skills for Decision Making and Innovation. 3rd ed., Routledge, 2010.