Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Book suggestion - Complicated Lives

I am firmly of the belief that if you understand how people live their lives you are in a much better position to understanding how work fits into that life and ultimately how you can attract and retain those you want.

Complicated Lives: sophisticated consumers, intricate lifestyles, simple solutions by Willmott & Nelson I believe is one of the best places to start to understand modern life (it is based on the UK but will probably give you a good insight into other cultures – we are rarely as different as it first seems – anyone who has done international HR or recruitment can confirm this).

Based on a large three year survey & numerous academic studies it explains the increasingly complex choices that people make in their lives, dispels lots of modern myths and gives some great examples of opportunities that businesses can follow to take advantage of the changing environment.

Let me give you but one example on how this can shift the issues for recruiters. The authors find that family ties are no less strong, but that they have become ‘vertical’ rather than ‘horizontal’. The role of grandparents looking after grandchildren has become stronger than ever as mothers return to the work force. Being close to grandparents is becoming increasingly important.

Why does this concern recruiters? Well, if families want to cluster around grandparents then the traditional geographic mobility, especially of skilled workers declines. Your local community matters more than ever before. Companies need to think about dispersing their workforce into potentially smaller centres. Visas might be hard to get but convincing someone in the same country to move might be even harder. You might want to consider increasing your presence as recruiters in your community, and trying to keep those that you have even more – you probably don’t have that many people in your relevant target pool.

Unlike many business books these days this one is more than a ‘one idea spread over 250 pages’. It will get your mind racing and give you the data and insights to make better decisions and policies. One of my favourites of the last year.