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Talent Strategy Consulting

The Need

PeopleLENS Global Associates helps companies and leaders across the world build new age Talent Strategy. We believe shifting global economic and demographic patterns by 2020 will make redundant many talent anchors currently in use . Increasingly we see symptoms of this shift in practice - be it the "War for Talent" or changing employee loyalty or the current concerns with incentive based motivators.

Organizations that wish to succeed in 2020 and beyond, must achieve a finely calibrated balance between decentralized (country based) talent strategy which can be highly responsive and corporate investment in the long term talent pipeline.

Our Process

Our approach, based on the unique PeopleLENS© philosophy and strategy framework helps organizations:

  • Identify the talent plays most likely to translate into business success.
  • Review market forces and internal data before making investment decisions.
  • Prioritize people investments, reduce wastage and redeploy wasted development dollars.
  • Map similar and different needs by region, country or business unit.
  • Publish a rolling 3 year People Plan, and roadmap for execution.

The Outcome

We partner with winning companies who seek more than just world class HR processes and programs, and help them create highly commercial Talent Strategy, which is anchored in market realities and owned by business leaders.


So, Who Will Win the Global War for Talent ?

By Gyan Nagpal,  CEO, PeopleLENS Global Associates.

A couple of years ago, the global workforce quietly traversed past an important milestone. It crossed 3 billion in economically active workers.  Given that we have just over 4 and a half billion people of working age across planet earth; what this means in aggregate terms, is that roughly two thirds of our talent gets up each day seeking to pursue an economic endeavor.

Yet for all this abundance of human potential, businesses across the world are struggling to get their talent management agenda to work.  Both CEOs and HR heads commonly report supply constraints, widening skill gaps, eroding loyalty and escalating labour costs as their most pressing concerns.

In reality though, these are all symptoms. Brought on, in part, because we haven’t invested enough in understanding the true nature of our global workforce, and how it is transforming in line with shifts in demographics and global business. A couple of years ago, I began researching and writing my well received book “Talent Economics – The Fine Line Between Winning and Losing the Global War for Talent” for precisely this reason. I wanted to present a fresh and deeply commercial insight on how the global workforce has changed over the last two decades, and more importantly - what will it look like in 2020?

Using economics as a construct seemed a natural fit to this task - as in its simplest form - economics is the study of how the forces of demand and supply allocate scarce resources. Talent, just like gold or any other precious commodity is subject to the same market forces, and hence behaves along set patterns. If we recognize these patterns and study the nature of a countries workforce, we begin to understand these symptoms at a causal level. There is value in this insight, and a burning need - as my research showed.

During the research phase of the book, I interviewed several CXOs and General Managers to gather their opinion and thoughts on the subject. I found, without exception, every single one rated talent as a top three concern. I was clearly off to a promising start, and several leaders were deeply interested in finding a talent recipe that would fuel their growth ambitions.

However, when I probed one level deeper - seeking their deductions as to the reasons for our talent woes today - what I found was a series of platitudes. Statements like -

“Employees just aren’t as loyal as they used to be” or “new competitors in our market poach our talent by offering a better title or a few dollars more” and “generation Y employees expect rapid growth and wont commit to a company for very long”, amongst others.

My natural next question was “so, what are you doing about this?” And what I got in return was an entire laundry list of solutions and initiatives. From improving incentive programs, to launching top talent programs, leadership development workshops and employee engagement schemes. Yet underlining all the activity people spoke about, I could also sense an underlying dissonance. Quite like swimmers valiantly trying to swim against the tide, many leaders accepted that in spite of all the effort, talent management continued to be an escalating concern.

It is clear we all need a fresh perspective. You see, we continue to look at the competition for talent as a problem which needs a solution. Like a gorilla, which has grown too big for its cage, we are looking to fix the gorilla, and not the cage.

When Mckinsey wrote their iconic research paper “The War for Talent” in the late 1990s, they focused on the competition between one company and another for the best and brightest employees. Yet over the last 15 years, another dimension of this war has emerged. The war between resignation and pinkslip.

It is indeed true that employment loyalty has eroded, but it has eroded at both ends.

Over the last 30 years, we have seen the emotional bond between the employee and employer weakening with each passing decade. On one hand, companies have become more comfortable laying-off employees at the first sign of economic turbulence. On the other hand, with historically low economic disincentives for leaving, employees today have an expanded career horizon and look well beyond their current organizations for career opportunities.

In Talent Economics, I aimed to present a whole new perspective to this war for talent. In a nutshell, to win this competition of attraction and retention, organizations will need to transform on two simultaneous vectors-

Evolve the employment equation -  We must accept that the employee is evolving and hence the very concept of employment must evolve to keep pace. This requires us to think well beyond old-fashioned buy or build mechanisms of finding and keeping talent, and move towards making the organization itself more attractive to both young and old workers alike. One way to do so is to change the way we manage our talent.

The 21st century employee turning up to work today is more aware assertive, aware and empowered than ever before; a fact which is challenging the traditional supremacy of 20th century management mindsets still commonly found on shop-floors across the world.

Make our talent agendas truly strategic – By this I mean eschew the list of random talent initiatives, programs and practices, in favour of well researched and truly long-term talent strategy. One which balances our natural short term “binge and purge” tendencies with long term pipeline development. Or for that matter, the need for talent strategy which balances global ambition with the vastly divergent ground realities in Seattle, Seville or Shanghai. The best way to get there is through deep diagnosis, and by studying what the workforce of the future will look like.

Achieving this transformation will require the will to challenge several “holy cow” practices. It will also require a shift from blindly copying “best practices”,  towards empowering leaders and giving them means to experiment with new age ideas, which transform the workplace.

Remember, innovative solutions to new challenges, seldom come from familiar places.