The War for Talent in the Global Economy

Having good talented people in your organization was important yesterday, today it is critical! Organizations world over have realized the importance of having talented people. McKinsey was the first to coin this term ‘war for talent’ in the year 1997. They named this for their research for talent management practices and beliefs. This became a phenomenon soon.

Not many organizations barring a few like IBM, PepsiCo and McKinsey knew the importance of talent management until recent years. It is not a big surprise that nearly two thirds of senior leaders quit an organization within three years of their hiring. Add to it there is also the problem of an aging population in the west and unemployable graduates in the east. This opened up the eyes of major corporations globally. A substantial amount of pressure has developed on corporations that are global or multinational in presence, hiring and nurturing the right talent globally is an area of major concern.

Global leadership is now aware to the chaos and disruption this can bring within their clients/customers and with other stakeholders. Strategies and plans for sales, production, expansion, and diversification are of no use unless you have the right people to execute them.

The talent market is more than competitive presently than it was and could be in the next decades. In an economy that is knowledge driven the demand for highly skilled workers is on the rise incessantly. Though the demand may decline at times due to the changes economic cycle but in the longer run the rising trend will remain the same more or less. In a survey conducted by McKinsey in 2001, 72 % of the managers they interviewed were of the opinion that winning the war for talent is critical and only 3 % were confident that their actions would create a strong talent pool in the next 3 years.

Apart from the talent constraint, it was also found out that people at executive ranks (in the age group of 35 - 40) will also decrease by 14 % in the next 15 years. This can be countered for a few more years by replacing these positions with older baby boomers, but it is not long before these older baby boomers retire and management ranks turn lean.

It is also of interest to mention here that individual expectations of rewards (developmental, psychological and financial) have increased! These are challenges and the most disconcerting element is that not many organizations are prepared to face them.

The Solution

Organizations need to act, and act now! The following is the five point solution suggested by McKinsey

  • Develop a talent mindset at all levels in the organization.
  • Create a winning Employee Value Proposition.
  • Recruit great talent continuously.
  • Grow leaders
  • Differentiate and affirm.

This means that a talent mindset is to be developed at levels in the organization preferably at the top. An employee value proposition is to be developed for employees just like the one that is created for its customers. Most important change the way you differentiate; make it on the basis of how much you invest in your top and low performers.


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