This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

February 25, 2015

Coping with Global Talent Shortages

In other countries of the world, notably China and India, doctors and other healthcare professional are paid to keep people healthy. In the United States and elsewhere in the world, doctors are paid to "cure diseases", or at least treat the symptoms. This system encourages doctors to run tests and find problems to fix, rather than focusing on maintaining health. With the exception of annual physical examinations, most patients in the US see doctors only when something is wrong. Patients with or recovering from chronic diseases see doctors on a regular basis, but only to ensure that the disease state does not worsen.

Employers in mature economies are having a unique challenge. Their working-age populations are dwindling---for the first time in modern history. To cope with these increasing talent gaps, shortages in the number of qualified, skilled workers, employers will need to take decisive action. And according to The Conference Board, the global, independent business membership and research association, companies must also increase their range of responses to such gaps.

Building on the experiences of three large corporations General Electric, Lockheed Martin, and Southern California Edison, The Conference Board provided solid examples of challenges, solutions, and innovations prompted by this tightening supply of talent. Analyzing and synthesizing these case studies, the report, titled Buy, Build, Borrow, or None of the Above New Options for Closing Global Talent Gaps develops a conceptual framework that firms of all sizes, in all industries, can apply to their own situations.

Notably, the report outlines specific recommendations for Human Resource executives and strategists everywhere:

1. Engage a broad group of people who are involved to ensure that talent strategy is aligned with changes in the external environment and the company's business priorities.
People support what they help to create.

2. Continuously assess your organization's capabilities and talent.
Sometimes, "acquiring another company or redesigning a work process could be more optimal than adding, training, or redeploying talent".

3. Tailor recruiting strategies to specific talent segments, jobs, and locations.
The more HR strategists can localize, along with domain expertise and enterprise-level perspective, the more successful they will be.

4. Consider blending solutions.
Hybrid solutions, including buying, building, borrowing, or deploying, work well for GE to blend with traditional strategies.

5. Invent new solutions, when necessary.
Creating external talent communities aimed at professionals with critical skills will help the company build relationships with available talent, even before they're ready to look for a new job.

6. Use data and analytics to model the impacts of various options for addressing talent gaps.
Southern California Edison, for example, used industry-level data and analytics to corroborate its own workforce data and gain business leaders' support for its talent strategy.

7. Think about the entire talent environment, rather than simply the company's present and future talent needs.
Joint ventures, crowdsourcing, and public contests with cash prizes may be better alternatives than "owning" talent.

Though embracing automation can help in some instances, these "talent gaps" are not going away. Enlightened employers will heed the wisdom of The Conference Board's report and take action right away. Without qualified, experienced people organizations large and small will not survive.

Special thanks to The Conference Board for this valuable report.

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