Summit news: Employers face global battle for talent

HR and reward specialists at the Employee Benefits Summit were told that they face a global war for talent and will have to revise reward strategies to help recruit and retain employees in this group.

Opening the summit in Jerez, Adrian Wooldridge, Washington Bureau Chief for The Economist, warned: “We are in the middle of a fierce global battle for talent.”

The economic downturn and employee lay offs of the 1990’s, the bust of the baby boom and the growth of emerging economies such as India and China are all contributing to a shortage of available talent, he said. “Talent is so rare that people are paying a lot of money for it,” Wooldridge added.

Employers may previously have resorted to sourcing talent from the emerging economies, but the pace of growth and increases in remuneration in these nations has been so great that immigrants in the US and the UK are starting to repatriate to their homeland.

The global competition for talent is such that graduates are also being given free land in Kansas and tax breaks in North Dakota if they stay and take jobs in these states.

Even when organisations are able to recruit talented staff they may find that they still move on. Wooldrige said that the period during 1990’s when companies cut their workforce to help boost their share price has led to the death of employee loyalty. Organisations should change their recruitment strategy from a transaction process to one of developing relationships to deal with the shortage of talent, he added They need to be  more sensitive to individuals by using targeted strategies. “Organisations need talent more, than talent needs organisations,” said Wooldridge.

Now employers need to attract and retain staff by offering personal development opportunities and fostering long-term contacts with prospects, he said. When putting in global reward structures they should also pay regard to local cultural differences. 

“You need  a single company strategy and brand but you also need to be able to delegate to a local level. It’s the same with reward; it’s easy to get reward wrong if you don’t take local [conditions and culture] into account” said Wooldridge.

In addition, he said that employers should make the most of talented “non-traditional” employees such as part-time workers and older staff.