How a Business Can Maximize Return on Talent

In case you haven’t heard, talent is scarce and becoming more so with every passing day. Indeed, return on talent is the biggest looming threat to businesses worldwide.

A report from the World Economic Forum and the Boston Consulting Group called Global Talent Risk – Seven Responses found that even China with its huge population faces long-term talent shortages.

Indeed, the report opened with:

“We are entering the era of unparalleled talent scarcity, which, if left unaddressed, will put a brake on economic growth around the world, and will fundamentally change the way we approach the workforce challenges.

No country, no organization can remain competitive unless talent – the engine force of economies – is there to ensure success of organizations in turbulent times, handle the political, social agenda and boost research and innovations.”

So nope, you can’t just turn to another country to find hoards of talented folks to man your global company anymore. You can’t turn anywhere to find the talented manpower you’ll need, actually.

It sounds counter-intuitive given high unemployment rates in several countries but the fact remains that your company does not need warm bodies to operate and succeed; it needs highly defined skill sets of a particular nature.

The root of the problem in developed countries is the same as it is in most companies: an aging population leaving the workforce and taking knowledge and valuable skills with it, coupled with all too common substandard public education systems producing low skilled workers. In undeveloped countries, the population is younger but less experienced and less educated given education systems there are uneven and often substandard too.

So where does that leave millions of businesses sorely in need of talent that apparently doesn’t exist in numbers enough to satisfy the need?

Pretty much it leaves you with a “grow your own talent pool” option.

The first obvious step is to train your existing employees to build their skills to fit company needs.

“Any nation or company that continues to rely on conventional learning and routine, siloed work without fostering a culture of continuous learning will face an ever-deepening talent gap,” says the report.

Therefore it is necessary for companies to structure and nurture continuous learning within its own existing workforce. While companies can partner with — or at least solicit the aid of — vendors and higher learning institutions, the learning programs must not be the traditional general studies but highly focused skill development with plenty of hands-on opportunities and job-related scoring.

And what is the motivation for companies to suddenly leap into the education and training business?

According to the report “competition for talent will come not only from the company down the street, but also from the employer on the other side of the world. It will be a seller’s market, with talented individuals having many choices. Both countries and companies will need to brand themselves as locations of choice to attract this talent.”

But continuous learning is not enough as that puts employers back in the trap of mass producing talent as opposed to leveraging or maximizing talent. Make sure you have the means to correctly and accurately assess individuals to speed upskilling and strategic placement of these individuals within the company. The days of a plodding promotion route are now over.

Several studies show that one of the top recruitment aides is career development. Offering the means to achieve maximum career development delivers direct benefits to your company in terms of having a steady source of employees capable of doing the work and retaining many of those employees over time. That is, of course, if your company offers other retention enticements as well.

Pam Baker is the author of eight books and hundreds of technology articles published daily in leading online and print publications. She is a member of the National Press Club (NPC) and the Internet Press Guild (IPG). You can reach her or follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

Tags: Business,Business Management